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Type: 3rd rate ; Armament 74
Displacement: 3994 tons
22 June 1794, Rear-admiral Cornwallis, in the Excellent 74, departed from Plymouth Sound, with a fleet of 12 sail of the line (all 74s but one, a 64), to cruise in the Bay of Biscay, and escort the East India fleet clear of soundings.
21 Dec 1796 the Tagus. The Mediterranean fleet arrived.
Circa 20 Jan 1797 departed from the Tagus with a Portuguese convoy and was subsequently, 6 Feb., joined off Cape St.-Vincent by a squadron detached from the Channel fleet.
14 Feb 1797 Jervis's action with the Spanish off Cape St Vincent.
31 Mar 1797 departed from Lisbon to blockade Cadiz.
6 Sep 1799 Portsmouth, departed to join the Channel fleet.
17 Oct 1799 Plymouth, passed up the Lisbon and Oporto fleets, under convoy of the Impregnable, of 98 guns (since lost off Portsmouth,) and the Excellent, 74, Captain Stopford : the latter put into Cawsand Bay with her prize, L'Arethuse brig corvette, 18, and 160 men, which she captured on her passage, after a chase of 12 hours. She was bound to Cayenne, her second voyage. In turning up Hamoaze, L'Arethuse tailed ashore by the violence of the lee current of the two tides from Hamoaze and the Sound, in Fire-Stone Bay, but soon got off, and went into Hamoaze.
19 Oct 1799 Portsmouth, arrived late last night, and early this morning, twelve merchant ships from Lisbon, which departed from thence under convoy of the Impregnable, 98, and Excellent, 74, the latter of which parted company a few days since, in chace of a suspected vessel.
14 Jan 1800 Plymouth, arrived the Excellent, 74, and Urania, 44, from sea, in Cawsand Bay.
19 Jan 1800 Plymouth, arrived the American brig Franklin, taken by the Alliance French privateer, and retaken by the Excellent, 74 guns.
19 Feb 1800 Plymouth, departed to join Admiral Gardner off Brest, from Cawsand Bay, the Windsor Castle, 98, Excellent, 74, and Resolution, 74.
24 Apr 1800 Previous to striking his flag on 24 Apr 1800 Lord Bridport promoted Lieutenant Hillier of the Excellent, Commander, and appointed him to the Niger.
24 Apr 1800 Torbay, the Channel Fleet, under the command of Sir Alan Gardner, departed, viz. Ville de Paris, Barfleur, Glory, London, Neptune, St George, Temeraire, Windsor Castle, Ajax, Achilles, Cumberland, Canada, Captain, Centaur, Defence, Defiance, Elephant, Excellent, Hector, Impetueux, Marlborough, Ramilies, Resolution, Robust, Russel, Saturn, Superb, Terrible, Venerable, Warrior, Sheerness, Amelia, Sea Horse, Thames, and Havick.
19 Jul 1800 Plymouth, came in from off Brest, the Prince, 98, R.-Adm. Cotton ; Defence, 74, Excellent, 74.
25 Jul 1800 Plymouth, arrived the Megaera fire-ship, the Excellent, 74, and Triumph, 74, from the Channel fleet.
6 Sep 1800 Plymouth, letters from the fleet off Brest, dated Black Rocks, the 2d inst. state that R.-Adm. Sir R. Calder, Bart, is appointed to the command of the in-shore or flying squadron, consisting of the Caesar, 84, Excellent 74, Marlborough 74, Defence 74, and Elephant 74.
11 Sep 1800 Plymouth, came in the Huckamida, Groot, from Bourdeaux, with wine and brandy, detained by the Excellent, 74.
19 Sep 1800 Plymouth, Letters from the Caesar, 84, of 16th, state, that she, with the Excellent, 74 ; Marlborough, 74 ; Elephant, 74 ; and Defence, 74, composing the squadron off the Black Rocks, were all well. They had taken possession of a small island about twp miles from the coast, where there was plenty of game, rabbits, pigeons, &c. which, with fish and vegetables, affords, them many comforts.
27 Sep 1800 Plymouth, arrived from off Brest, and anchored in Cawsand Bay, owing to very heavy S. W. gales, the Temeraire, 98, Namur, 98, Prince, 98, Barfleur, 98, Royal George, 110, Neptune, 98, Juste, 84, Russel, 74, Mars, 74, Marlborough, 74, Defence, 74, Elephant, 74, Excellent, 74.
5 Oct 1800 Plymouth, departed from Cawsand Bay to join the fleet in Torbay, the Prince, 98, Prince George, 98, Edgar, 74, Barfleur, 98, Excellent, 74, Neptune, 98, Elephant, 74, and Doris, 36.
20 Oct 1800 Abreveral, the ship's boats, under Lt Bain, cut out three brigs, hiding in a creek to the east of Abreveral, with the loss of a quarter-master, mortally wounded.
28 Oct 1800 Plymouth, came in La Belle Francoise, schooner, in ballast, cut out near L'Orient, by the Excellent.
4 Nov 1800 Plymouth, arrived a number of vessels cut out by the boats of the Excellent, 74, Montague, 74, in a bay near Brest. In trying to turn up Catwater two of them missed stays, and, it blowing hard, they tailed ashore on the Cobler's Ledge and bilged.
19 Nov 1800 Plymouth, sail to join the Channel fleet, with the Russell.
24 Nov 1800 Plymouth, arrived a French brig, with biscuit, taken by the Excellent.
2 Jan 1801 departed Plymouth to join the Channel Fleet the Elephant, of 74 guns, and Excellent, of 74. 15 Jan 1801 departed Plymouth Sound to join the fleet.
8 Jan 1801 arrived Plymouth, the Excellent, Capt Hon R Stopford, from Torbay.
10 Jan 1801 departed Plymouth to join the Fleet off Brest.
7 Feb 1801 arrived Plymouth a Danish galliot from Altona, bound for Croisick, in ballast, sent in by the Excellent.
8 Feb 1801 arrived Plymouth Sound from the Bay of Quiberon, with the officers of the Requin, of 14 guns, Lt. Fowell, which was wrecked on some rocks in the above bay, on the 1st instant, the whole crew were saved, but 20 getting on shore were made prisoners, the Nile went in with a flag of truce, and it is thought, being wrecked, they will be soon exchanged, the rest of the crew were saved by the Excellent.
20 Feb 1801 on the night of the 20th sent the boats of the Excellent to endeavour to bring off a cutter and a sloop which were at anchor near the Point of Quiberon ; unfortunately that same evening, after dark a large chasse marée, with troops on board, going to the island of Belleisle, had taken her station close to the above vessels, the resistance which the boats met with was consequently much greater than there was at first reason to expect ; this circumstance did not, however, prevent Lieutenant Church (having the command of the boats), from making the attack upon the chase-marée, in which he gallantly persevered, till being badly wounded himself, and two men killed in his boat, he was obliged to retire ; the other boats under the command of Messrs. Crawford and Manning (Midshipmen), resolutely boarded and succeeded in bringing off the cutter called L'Arc, an armed vessel in the service of the Republic, commanded by an Enseign de Vaisseau, and employed as convoy to and from Belleisle ; this vessel had also on board a detachment of troops, who were made prisoners, and who made the vessel's force much superior to that of the assailants.
27 Feb 1801 arrived Plymouth Sound the Indefatigable, of 44 gun, Captain Scott, from Quiberon. Her boats and the boats of the Excellent, of 74 guns, attempted to cut out a French gun-vessel full of troops, and fifteen sail her convoy. The former was carried and brought in here, but the latter took shelter under the forts of the Morbihan ; Lieutenant Church and four men were killed, and seven wounded.
2 Mar 1801 letters received at Plymouth from the Excellent, dated the 14th ult. off L'Orient, state, that a flag of truce sent into that port brought the pleasing account that the Lurcher cutter, Lieutenant Forbes, supposed to have been wrecked, had arrived there, having been captured by a French privateer of superior force, after a gallant action.
11 Mar 1801 departed for the Eastward.
15 Mar 1801 arrived a French chasse marée laden with corn and flour cut out by the boats of the Excellent.
17 Mar 1801 arrived Falmouth from the Channel Fleet, Capt Stopford.
19 Mar 1801 arrived Plymouth Sound the Excellent and the Centaur from a cruise off Ushant to victual and refit.
9 Jul 1801 came into Plymouth the Excellent, 74, with a convoy of victuallers, and Diamond, 32, from the Channel fleet off the Lizard, last Tuesday evening, having been blown off their station by a violent gale of wind at S.W.
15 Jul 1801 struck yards and topmasts to overhaul the rigging in Cawsand Bay.
18 Jul 1801 the Excellent, and Achilles, have struck yards and top masts, and are overhauling their rigging.
25 Jul 1801 departed Plymouth Sound with live bullocks and vegetables for the Channel Fleet.
8 Nov 1801 arrived Spithead the Excellent, and the Canada, from Torbay.
29 Nov 1801 departed Spithead the Excellent, to join the Channel Fleet.
28 Dec 1801 remained with the Channel Fleet in Torbay with the Ville de Paris.
15 Jan 1802 arrived Plymouth Sound the Royal Sovereign, 110, Vice-Admiral Sir E. Harvey, Bart. and the Excellent, 74, Hon. Captain Stopford, from Torbay, to be paid wages and prize money.
24 Jan 1802 departed Plymouth Sound for Torbay, having been paid, and arrived at Torbay later that day. The squadron lying at Torbay is to to be victualled and stored by victualling vessels from Plymouth for five/six ? months, depending on source.
2 Mar 1802 departed Torbay the Irresistible, Robust, Edgar, Audacious, Magnificent, Excellent, and Bellerophon, on a cruise, but there being little wind the exercise was performed by the various ships' boats towing them out.
Mar 1802 passed by Plymouth, to the westward, with sealed orders, the Edgar, 74, Excellent, 74, Bellerophon, 74, Robuste, 74, Magnificent, 74, and Audacious, 74. They lay to becalmed with light winds off the Edystone, but the wind freshening at N.N.W. the squadron soon made sail, and were clear of land about sunset.
4 Mar 1802 arrived Plymouth Sound from Torbay, to be paid, the Courageux, 74, and Achille, 84. The Courageux was first ordered on foreign service, but was replaced by the Excellent, 74, she being in a more forward state of service.
17 Jun 1802 letters received Plymouth from an Officer of the Audacious, 74, Captain Peard, dated the 1st of May last, at Port Royal, Jamaica, mentions that the squadron which left Torbay last February, arrived the latter end of March at Martinique, being only 25 days on her passage ; and found there the Saturn, 74, Rear Admiral Totty, with the Excellent, 74, and Magnificent, 74. Sailed for Port Royal the 5th of April, with the Bellerophon, 74 ; arrived at Jamaica after a fine passage, and found there Vice Admiral Duckworth, with fifteen sail of the line, besides frigates and sloops of war. The remainder part of the fleet were cruising between Jamaica and St. Domingo.
Circa 13 Jul 1802 Previous to Admiral Totty's sailing from Martinico, he appointed the Hon. Captain Stopford, of the Excellent, Commodore, with a broad pendant, Captain Nash, of the Hornet, to be his Captain ; and Lieutenant Tucker, of the Saturn, to the Hornet, to succeed Captain Nash.
24 Sep 1802 this morning arrived Spithead the Andromeda, 36, Captain Fielding, from Martinico. She departed from Port Royal the 21st of August, where she left the Excellent, Commodore Stopford ; Severn, Captain Barker ; the Castor, Venus, and Thalia frigates ; and Drake sloop of war.
23 Dec 1802 arrived Barbadoes, and moored in company with the Ulysses, Commodore Hood.
23 Dec 1802 Mr Nash has been promoted Lieut, and remains on board, replacing Lieut T. Church, apptd to the Busy, vice Chamberlayne, deceased. Mr Nash was son of the late Lieut Nash killed in 1787, on board the Hero, when a seaman fell on him from aloft.
8 Jan 1803 per letter from the Centaur at Barbadoes, the Blenheim, Excellent, Heureux, Thalia, Asp, and Netley were lying here. The deaths of Lieuts Bruce and Withers of the Emerald, and Lieut Grindall of the Castor, have recently taken place. The latter has departed for Antigua, from whence she'll depart for England.
5 Jan 1803 when the Falmouth packet Leicester arrived at Barbadoes, the Blenheim, Centaur, Excellent, Thalia, Gauchapin, and schooner Netley were lying there.
21 Jan 1803 when the Falmouth packet Lord Charles Spencer arrived at Barbadoes she found the Blenheim, 74, Excellent, 74, Emerald, 36, Heureux, 26, and the sloops Hornet and Cyane lying there.
25 Feb 1803 the Falmouth packet Princess Elizabeth which arrived Falmouth in 39 days from Barbadoes reports that the following vessels remained at Barbadoes, the Blenheim, Ulysses, and Heureux, when she departed for England, with the Excellent and Castor arriving Barbadoes as she departed.
22 Apr 1803 came up from St Helen's to Spithead, the Excellent, Capt Nash, last from Barbadoes.
16 May 1803 due to the pending war due to restart against France following a breakdown in the Treaty of Amiens the ship's company of HMS Excellent were not to be granted protection from the press gangs during the 14 days leave that they would normally have been entitled to when returning from service abroad, to which the men supposedly agreed as a patriotic gesture, so instead of going on leave after being paid off from the Excellent, they will go on board the Prince of Wales or the Windsor Castle, preparing for sea in Portsmouth harbour.
Circa 27 Jun 1803 Capt Sotheron, apptd to the Excellent.
7 Jul 1803 has been re-coppered and undocked at Portsmouth.
25 Aug 1803 is ready to depart Portsmouth harbour.
Circa 3 Sep 1803 departed Portsmouth harbour for Spithead.
Circa 12 Sep 1803 is ordered to be fitted for Foreign Service.
24 Sep 1803 the Excellent, Capt Sotheron ; the Amazon, Capt Parker ; with the Jalouse, Capt Strachey, are preparing at Spithead to depart with the Mediterranean convoy shortly.
29 Sep 1803 the Excellent, 74 ; Amazon, 36 ; and Jalouse, 18, and the William store ship, H Duncan, master, departed Spithead with a large convoy for the Mediterranean.
Circa 29 Sep 1803 Lieut Curtis apptd to the Excellent.
4 Oct 1803 the Excellent, Amazon, Jalouse, and William store ship, sailed past Plymouth, with their convoy for the Mediterranean.
24 Nov 1803, arrived off Toulon from England to join the Mediterranean squadron.
Late 1803, Of the weak and ill-provided state of several of his ships, Lord Nelson, in his letters to the admiralty, complained very bitterly, and, as it appears, not without reason. " . . . . . . . . "We have fitted the Excellent with new main and mizen rigging: it was shameful for the dock-yard (Portsmouth) to send a ship to sea with such rigging. "
12 Dec 1803, whilst the Narcissus watched Toulon the Fleet departed for the bay of Palma and thence to the Magdalena islands for water etc.
4 Jan 1804 departed with the Mediterranean fleet on a cruise, arriving back at Sardinia on 27th. 1 Feb cruised on the French coast, anchoring off Cabrera on the 8th ; cruised again from the 19 Feb to 25 Mar.
3 Apr 1804 cruised off the French coast apart from returning briefly to the Magdalena islands to water from 11 to 19 May.
13 Jun 1804 a small French squadron entered Toulon.
19 Jul 1804 following the receipt of supplies from England the fleet departed for the gulf of Palma to store ship ; returned 26 Aug.
Circa 8 Oct 1804 Lieut Curtis is promoted Commander and apptd to the Jalouse.
May 1805 Mediterranean
23 Jan 1806 King of Naples taken to Palermo.
21 Apr - 12 Jul 1806 operations, with the Army, along the coast of Naples, in support of the Prince of Hesse.
7-20 Nov 1808 assisting the Spanish militia defend the town of Rosas from an attack by a large French force.
21 Nov 1808 Excellent was relieved by the Fame at Rosas, which on the 23rd withdrew, with her marines from off the coast.
28 Jul 1809 ship's boats of the Excellent, with the Acorn and Bustard, cut out from the port of Duin, north-west of Trieste, six Italian gun-boats, along with 10 laden coasters.
Jul 1830 reduced to 58, at Portsmouth - to commence the role as the Navy's Gunnery Training Ship.
21 Apr 1832 the Victory is under orders to go out of harbour, and remain at Spithead, during the Summer months, and the Excellent, at present used for the exercise of Gunnery, is to receive on board supernumeraries instead of the Victory.
1834 Replaced by Boyne
17 Jan 1835 in harbour at Portsmouth
Portsmouth 11 Apr 1835 the late Excellent, now replaced by the Boyne, was taken into dock on Thursday to have her copper removed, before being departed to the Eastward, under jury masts, to be broken up.
Portsmouth 2 May 1835 Messenger is detailed to tow the late Gunnery Training ship, HMS Excellent to the River Thames to be sold for breaking.
Portsmouth 16 May 1835 Messenger departed Wednesday last with the late Excellent, assisted by jury sails, under tow for the river.
20 Jul 1839 Mates C. H. James and W. A. R. Lee, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Jul 1839 Portsmouth, Midshipman Richard Malone, and Mates Alfred Rose Lee, C. H. James, and J. M. Cooke, appointed to the Excellent; 17 Aug 1839 Portsmouth, We understand that the Excellent is to be fitted for trial, with a moveable platform, for the purpose of teaching seamen naval gunnery. It is the invention of Lieutenant Thomas Cooke, R. N., Professor of Fortification at Addiscombe. 17 Aug 1839 Portsmouth Lieutenant J. C. Caffin, appointed to the Excellent vice Lieutenant B. Warren, appointed to the Blenheim 7 Sep 1839 Mate Henry Chads, appointed to the Excellent. 26 Oct 1839 Mates Robert Willcox, and David W. Gordon, appointed to the Excellent." 2 Nov 1839 Mate H. Bayley, appointed to Excellent ; Clerk Henry Price (purser, half pay), appointed as additional clerk to the Excellent." 14 Dec 1839 Portsmouth In harbour. 28 Dec 1839 Mate John Berlaso, appointed to the Excellent 4 Jan 1840 Lieutenant C. B. Warren, from the Blenheim to the Excellent, vice Thomas Wilson, who exchanges. 1 Feb 1840 Mate A. P. Ryder, appointed to the Excellent 8 Feb 1840 Lieutenant Benjamin Sharpe, appointed to the Excellent vice Anslie, appointed to the Cambridge 8 Feb 1840 Surgeon John Edwards, appointed to the Excellent, vice Urquhart, appointed to the Thunderer. 14 Mar 1840 Mate Robert Hall, appointed to the Excellent ; Mate David M. Gordon, appointed from the Excellent to the Thunderer ; Mate C. H. James, of Excellent, appointed to Cambridge ; Mate Arthur Cummings, of Excellent, appointed to Cyclops. 25 Apr 1840 Mate P. W. May, appointed to the Excellent. 16 May 1840 Mate J. F. B. W Wainwright, appointed to the Excellent 6 Jun 1840 Lieutenant G. G. Otway (from the Excellent) ; Mate Charles J. Ewart, appointed to the Excellent" 4 Jul 1840 Lieutenant George R. Wilson, promoted of the Excellent, 25 Jul 1840 Mate Charles Sullivan, appointed to the Excellent. 8 Aug 1840 Commander John Neal Nott appointed to the Excellent. 16 Aug 1840 Mate A. P. Greene, of Excellent, appointed to join the Niger expedition ; 22 Aug 1840 Mates Hon. T. A. Pakenham, ; W. H. Bridge, appointed to the Excellent; 22 Aug 1840 Mate Richard Moorman, appointed to the Excellent;" 29 Aug 1840 Mate B. B. Hawke appointed to the Excellent. 3 Oct 1840, Lieutenant A. Sharpe and Mr. Beauchamp Proctor, Mates have been appointed to the Howe, from the Excellent, as gunnery officers, with 12 seamen gunners. 10 Oct 1840 Portsmouth, Mr. J. Lilley, boatswain, late of the Excellent has been superannuated on £65 per annum. 10 Oct 1840 Mates G. Herbert, and G. H. Hodgson appointed to the Excellent. 17 Oct 1840 Mates J. M Jackson, J. C. Rowles, and J. C. W. N. Taylor, appointed to the Excellent; 31 Oct 1840, Lieutenant W. Austen, appointed to the Excellent ; Mates C. J. Brickdale, Nicholas Love Lockyer ; and Mr. J. Addison and Mr. W. Witmarsh appointed to the Excellent, to qualify as naval instructor and schoolmaster. 7 Nov 1840 Lieutenant F. L. Barnard, appointed to the Excellent; 21 Nov 1840 Portsmouth Lieutenant Caffin, of the Excellent. has been ordered to Sheerness, to superintend the fitting of the gun carriages for the Camperdown, Monarch, and Vernon. 12 Dec 1840 Lieutenant Edward H. Kenny, appointed to the Excellent; 12 Dec 1840 Messrs. B. G. Rowles, and J. Claude N. Taylor, (mates of the Excellent), passed on Tuesday, for Lieutenants. 26 Dec 1840 Mate Leopold George Heath (of the Excellent) has obtained the half-yearly Lieutenant's Commission, as being senior in proficiency of mathematics, &c., prior to the Christmas vacation at the Royal Naval College. Charles C. Carter made Lieutenant. 26 Dec 1840 Lieutenant J. Sanderson ; Mate O. Borland, appointed to the Excellent. 26 Dec 1840 Mate C. J. F. Ewart, of the Excellent, appointed to the Monarch. 26 Dec 1840 Mate John Borlase, appointed to the Excellent, to take charge of the artillery duties an board that ship. 2 Jan 1841 Lieutenants Edward H. Kenny, and Hon. G. D. Keane, appointed to the Excellent; 30 Jan 1841 Mates John Borlase, Edward Hardy. Edward Lacy. and W. A. R. Lee (from the Naval College), appointed to the Excellent, for the first ships wanting gunnery mates. Mate W. Moorsom, appointed to the Excellent. 19 Feb 1841 Mate Thomas Davies, appointed from the Ganges, to the Excellent. 27 Feb 1841 Gunner's Mate W. Sparkes, of the Excellent, appointed to be acting gunner of the Victory. 27 Feb 1841 Midshipman Charles Compton, appointed to the Excellent. 6 Mar 1841 Mate Stephen F. Douglas, appointed to the Excellent. Gunner W. Sparks, of the Excellent, appointed to be Acting Gunner, and borne on the Victory. 20 Mar 1841 Mate J. P. Thompson, appointed to the Excellent ; 3 Apr 1841 Lieutenant James Fitzjames ; Mate A. D. Gordon, appointed to the Excellent. 10 Apr 1841 Lieutenants James Fitzjames (from the Excellent) appointed to the Cornwallis; 13 Apr 1841 Midshipmen J. F. Herbert, of the Excellent, passed for lieutenant 17 Apr 1841 Mate H. D. Blanckley, from the Excellent appointed to the Salamander. Mate J. A. Paynter, appointed to the Vernon, from the Excellent. 24 Apr 1841 Mate James Paynter, from the Excellent, appointed to the Vernon. Mate ----- McClintoch, from the Crocodile, appointed to the Excellent." 29 Apr 1841 Mr. W. H. M'Michael, appointed to the Excellent, to qualify for naval instructor. 8 May 1841 Lieutenant W. H. Bridge appointed to the Excellent. Mate E. Hardy, from Excellent, appointed to the Indus. 11 May 1841 Lieutenant Forbes, Royal Marines, appointed to the Excellent, for instruction in naval gunnery. Gunner E. Sawyer, appointed to the Excellent. 22 May 1841 Lieutenant E. R. Power, appointed to the Excellent ; 29 May 1841 Lieutenant J. Fitzjames, from the Excellent, appointed to the Cornwallis. Lieutenant E. H. Kenney, from the Excellent, appointed to the Dublin. 5 Jun 1841 Mate M. Burrows, appointed to the Excellent ; 12 Jun 1841 Mate John Borlase (1832), of the Excellent, promoted to Lieutenant. Mates C. J. Austen ; H. F. N. Rolfe , appointed to the Excellent ; 12 Jun 1841 appointed to the Excellent as Cadets for the Royal Marines :-Messrs. G. E. O. Jackson, Charles M'Arthur, F, W. Hall, F. A. P. Wood, T. V. Cooke, H. Cottle, and H. W. Gwyn. 19 Jun 1841 Lieutenant J. Borlase, appointed to the Excellent ; 24 Jun 1841 All gunners are is future to be borne on the books of the Excellent. 3 Jul 1841 Mate John Wilson, appointed to Excellent. 14 Aug 1841 Lieutenant F. W Saunders, appointed to the Excellent ; Purser Mr. Thomas Kerrigan, appointed to the Excellent, vice Street. 21 Aug 1841 Lieutenant W.H. Bridge (from the Excellent) appointed to the Southampton. Lieutenant Edwin W. Sanders, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Aug 1841 Clerk R. Godson, appointed to the Excellent ; 11 Sep 1841 Portsmouth, Important to Midshipmen.- The Lords of the Admiralty have issued orders for all midshipmen to pass in gunnery on board the Excellent, previous to passing at the RN College. 11 Sep 1841 Mates W. B. De Blaquiere and A. D. Gordon appointed to the Excellent. Mate H. Wardrop (from the Excellent) and C. H. Simpson, appointed to the Malabar. Midshipman F Marryat, appointed to the Excellent. Lieutenant T. H. Christian, appointed to the Excellent 18 Sep 1841 Midshipman Mr. T. B. Crawford, appointed to the Excellent. 25 Sep 1841 Mate R. W. Alcock, appointed to the Excellent. 9 Oct 1841 Lieutenant ------ Caldwell, appointed to the Excellent. 12 Oct 1841 Mate F. L. M'Clintock, Excellent, passed for Lieutenant at the Naval College. 16 Oct 1841 Mate H. G. Williams, appointed to the Excellent. 20 Nov 1841 Naval Instructors Mr. Brand, and Mr. Russell ; Clerk W. H. Henna, appointed to the Excellent. 27 Nov 1841 Midshipman G. Whale, appointed to the Excellent. 11 Dec 1841 Lieutenant G. Moorman ; Midshipman G. White appointed to the Excellent. 18 Dec 1841 Mate W. T. Lower, appointed to the Excellent. 28 Dec 1841 in Portsmouth harbour. 15 Jan 1842 it is announced that Gunner's Mate M.W. Turner has been promoted to Third Class Gunner.
31 May 1842 paid off and re-commissioned at Portsmouth, by Capt. Sir T. Hastings, officers and men being re-appointed and re-entered respectively.
25 Aug 1842 the Admiralty Board inspected the Gunnery Training Ship Excellent.
10 Oct 1842 the complement of the Excellent has been increased to 700 men, thus providing a reserve of qualified gunners for the Fleet, along with 12 Lieutenants and 50 mates and midshipmen, a chaplain, an extra assistance surgeon, and an engineer for the Bee steamer, the vessel being attached to the Excellent.
10 Oct 1842 Bee earmarked as a permanent tender to HMS Excellent, the Gunnery Training Ship.
22 Oct 1842 experiments being carried out on board to determine the efficacy of defences of boilers in steam ships of war, taking into account the fact that a shot into a boiler could leave the vessel hors de combat and that the present defences were totally inadequate.
28 Oct 1842 Richard Port, age 19, fell from aloft, from the main yard to the deck.
15 Dec 1842 gunnery practice inspected by H.I.H. Archduke Frederick of Austria.
17 Apr 1847 Gunnery Practice in the British Navy. It is now well known to every person connected with the navy, that our seamen excel all other nations in gunnery practice as much as they have hitherto excelled them in seamanship. The perfection that has been thus attained is owing to the system pursued on board H.M.S. Excellent. at Portsmouth, where both officers and seamen are daily instructed in the practice as well as the theory of naval gunnery. When these seamen and officers are sufficiently skilled in this art, they are drafted on board the newly-commissioned ships as gunnery officers and seamen gunners, where they become the instructors of their shipmates ; and hence the crew of a British man-of-war can fire a broadside or a single gun with greater precision than any foreigner. The accuracy in firing on board the Excellent has been so frequently and satisfactorily tested, that no one who has ever witnessed it can be otherwise than surprised and gratified at its remarkable precision. The utility of this establishment has been so perfectly established that the Lords of the Admiralty are holding out inducements to both seamen and officers to join it in order that the navy may be supplied with experienced gunners skilled in the theoretical as well as the practical knowledge of naval gunnery. - London Paper. Dated 1846.
That may well have been the case at that date, if you should be happy to believe the spiel, but it would appear that gunnery of the Royal Navy was, barring some notable exceptions, never much good during the Napoleonic Wars, with the Admiralty failing to supply sufficient materials for regular practice, and some captains reputedly not wishing to dirty their ships, often meaning that Nelson's order that no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy, meaning that he can then open fire with any gun that he can bring to bear on the target and that accuracy is of little value. However, this process was soon put into perspective from about 1812 by some, but not all US captains, who were reluctant to allow the British ships to come alongside, and by using superior gunnery were often able to pick off vital parts of the British ships until they were almost unmanageable and were an easy prey to the larger and probably better armed U.S. ships. Few if any lessons were learned during the 19th Century, except perhaps that you had to build bigger ships to match the enemy, but towards the end of the Century Captain Percy Scott notes that whilst they were happy to inspect the men few if any of the inspecting admirals paid any attention to the quality of a ship's gunnery, and often made a point of not being on board when this inspection was carried out, this at a time when the range and power of guns was increasing dramatically and one would have thought would have been a priority. But Whale Island was rarely given examples of the latest equipment that was being fitted to ships so was often unable to train men using modern equipment.
Naval gunnery was being dragged screaming into the 20th Century, but even by the start of WWI certain aspects of ships' gunnery was still not resolved. Due to design and construction problems many guns were unable to fire at their maximum range, and inquiries held later regarding the loss of big ships at the Battle of Jutland would suggest that basic safety was being ignored in order to feed the guns quickly. In my humble opinion the problems lie squarely with the Admiralty, in that they the failed to equip the various gunnery establishments adequately, but attempted to create an atmosphere where everyone was led to believe that British gunnery was a World beater when in fact it left an awful lot to be desired, and rather than accept that there were shortcomings the pedlars of the truth (and gloom) were invariably shuffled off to sea or somewhere else where their comments could no longer be heard.
20 Dec 1848 Gunnery Ship, Portsmouth
1859 Replaced by Queen Charlotte and renamed Excellent.
1 Jan 1859 Commissioned at Portsmouth.
1860 Portsmouth, gunnery ship
1864 Home Station : Stationary ship. Reports on Scarlatina, VD etc. and Small Pox omboard. Number of Cases of Disease and Injury.
1865 converted to be a Gunnery Training Ship, and joined by HMS Calcutta by a bridge as a part of the Gunnery Gunnery school at Portsmouth, then moored off Mud Island, which was later to become Whale Island. Whale Island converted from mud flat to parade ground by using soil from the new docks in the Dockyard and grew in area from 10 to 80 Acres plus various hulks attached as classrooms and accommodations ships.
1870 Portsmouth, gunnery ship
1 Apr 1876 Recommissioned at Portsmouth
1878, very badly found as regards the necessary equipment for instruction in gunnery, so much so that a lecture there on some particular weapon generally concluded with the remark - "but this is obsolete, and we have not got the new one to show you."
1879 Portsmouth, gunnery ship : tenders: Comet, Glatton, Medway.
1 Jul 1884 New books opened.
Apr 1889 Court-martial held on board on acting sub-lieutenant W. B. Cowper Coles, of the Excellent, attending the RN College, Greenwich, for absence without leave, and was sentenced to lose 9 months' seniority and to be severely reprimanded.
1890 Gunnery Ship, Portsmouth : tenders: Blazer, Bustard, Hero, Handy, Kite, Mastiff, Pike, Pincher, Skylark, Snake.
1890 The building of and the transfer from ship to shore - Whale Island.
1890 the gunboat HMS Handy renamed HMS Excellent in order to become the nominal ship for the establishment at Whale Island, as required by the Naval Discipline Act.
1891 the former Queen Charlotte broken up.
1902 some observations by an officer who spent a period under training at Whale Island.