HMS Medusa

Naval Database

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Medusa, 1838
Type: Packet ;
Launched : 31 Oct 1838 ; Disposal date or year : 1872
BM: 889 tons
Propulsion: Paddle
Machinery notes: 312 hp

7 Sep 1839 Portsmouth, fitted for the station between Liverpool and Kingstown, has just commenced running. She made her first passage across the Channel on the 2d inst., performing the distance, 123 miles, in nine hours and 40 minutes, which is said to be the shortest ever noticed. The Medusa is a splendid vessel, 880 tons, built at Pembroke, and commanded by Lieutenant J. P. Philips, late of the Lucifer.

1 Jul 1840 Liverpool, commissioned by Mr. Wm. Smithett, acting master.

1 Aug 1842 Steam Packet at Liverpool.

20 Dec 1848 Steam Packet in the Mediterranean.

30 Aug 1851 Mediterranean

5 Oct 1856 departed England for anti-slavery duties on the West Coast of Africa.

21 Jun 1857 off the Isles de Los, chased and boarded the merchant vessel William Clark, flying the U.S. flag, to interview her master and review his paperwork, and noticed in passing that in some respects the vessel appeared to be fitted out for the slave trade, her hatchways being larger than was usual for a vessel of her size, and her coppers were more suited to feeding a ship full of slaves than the crew of a merchant ship, however the master was not prepared to raise the hatches voluntarily to confirm the suspicions, so rather than cause an international incident, the facts etc., were noted and the vessel allowed to go her way. It was also observed that although the Master appeared to be an American, the rest of the crew were Spanish, as were some purported passengers, who were thought to be the ship's real officers. And it is noted that a couple of months later she was arrested by the Firefly and dealt with by the Vice-Admiralty Court, which usually resulted in the demolition of the vessel and sale of the resulting bits of timber in separate lots. See the Book of Instructions for the Guidance of Officers engaged in the Suppression of the Slave Trade for guidance regarding what to look out for and the do's and don'ts - see

22 Mar 1858 detained the slave brigantine Robert M. Charlton, 149 tons, Jno Gardner, master, in Lat. 4 48' S., long. 11 19' 30" E., in the region of Loango. The vessel was taken for adjudication to Vice Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone where she was condemned on 4 May 1858, her papers and flag having been thrown overboard, and was fitted out for the slave trade, in accordance with 2 & 3 Vict. cap. 73. 20 Sep 1859 distribution of the tonnage bounty announced in the Gazette.

28 Apr 1858 detained a canoe, with 33 Negro slaves on board, in the River Congo by one of the ship's boats, about 10 miles below Punta da Lenha. The crew of the canoe had deserted prior to the arrest. The canoe was destroyed and the slaves were taken to St. Helena in the steam sloop Firefly, 1 dying prior to emancipation. The case was settled in the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena on 31 May 1858 when the canoe was sentenced to be Forfeited and the surviving slaves were emancipated. 20 Sep 1859 payment of the slave bounty announced in the Gazette.

28 Apr 1858 the fact that the launch Rio Zaire, found deserted, and fitted out to carry slaves and showed the usual signs that it had been used, was given up through a lack of evidence, caused the Commodore to express his disapproval in his regular report of proceedings.

14 Sep 1858 in the River Congo, at anchor in Medora Creek, boarded the US vessel Ellen, whose papers appeared to be correct and was allowed to proceed on her passage up the River.

15 Sep 1858 in Medora Creek, boarded the US yacht Wanderer, which was described as "very taut," whose papers also appeared to be correct and continued up the River.

4 Oct 1858 off Shark's Point, the captain wrote that he saw a large barque, under American colours, proceeding up the Congo, which was boarded by Lieutenant Nott. On his return he advised that she was the barque Hazard, a legal trader ; and therefore did not interfere with her.

24 Oct 1859 departed Lagos under steam for Aghway, 25 Oct 1859 arrived Aghwey, where she joined the Falcon.

27 Oct 1859 Commander Bowden landed to have a palaver with some of the local chiefs following breaches of the treaty with England, including the detention of Kroomen who wished to join RN ships. Most of the Kroomen eventually escaped by swimming out to the Medusa, who sent boats in shore to pick them up. They were then signed on to join the Brune which was based on Lagos.

29 Oct 1859 departed for Whydah where the supply of fresh provisions to R.N. vessels had been stopped, but were resumed on 1 Dec after some discussion with Mr. Dawson. It is understood that problems still exist with Kosoko attempting to stir up trouble.

15 Nov 1859 returned to Whydah.

18 Nov 1859 departed for Lagos.

20 Nov 1859 arrived at Lagos.

22 Nov 1859 Mr Brand, English Consul for Lagos arrived and received a salute from the Medusa on the 23rd when he landed.

24 Nov 1859 spoke with Captain Armstrong of the USN vessel Sumpter regarding the benefits of having an American cruizer in the Bights with so many vessels under the American flag expected there for the slave trade. Departed for Whydah.

2 Dec 1859 fell in the with Sumpter again and Commander Bowden had some further positive discussions with Captain Armstrong regarding working together where practicable.

8 Dec 1859 departed for Lagos.

6 May 1860 returned to England from the West Coast of Africa.

1 Sept 1863 Sheerness. Commissioned for Service on the Home Station.

1864 Home Station. Number of Cases of Disease and Injury.

1870 Particular Service

8 Feb 1871 departed from Devonport, for the Clyde, to bring back the Kite and Bustard, twin screw gunboats of 245 tons, 28 h.p., and built by R. Napier and Sons, of Glasgow.

19 Mar 1871 had arrived at Devonport from the Clyde with the Kite and Bustard.