HMS Defender, Lugger, 1810


Warships of the Royal Navy Sail 1765-1838

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Although there were few luggers in the Royal Navy, they were, of all the smaller vessels, the best sailers. Size for size they were faster than cutters on all points of sailing and were able to point closer to the wind when beating. During the Napoleonic Wars smuggling, always widespread, reached a peak with tea, wine, tobacco, spirits, silk and cloths being landed in many small bays and islets along the South coast. In 1750 half of all the tea consumed in Britain was smuggled and about 20,000 men were engaged in the activity. The lugger rig was popular with smugglers and privateers – particularly on the French side, although the rig itself meant that the yards and sail had to be lowered and swung round to the opposite side of the mast whenever the vessel tacked. HMS Royalist captured Beau Marseille, a French privateer, on 10 December 1809. She was armed with 14 guns, had a crew of 60 men and was three months old. Described as “a very beautiful vessel” and “one of the fastest sailers out of Boulogne. The Royal Navy took her into service as Defender. From 15 February to 16 March 1811 she underwent fitting out at Sheerness. She was sold at Chatham for £280 on 1 September 1814.

Additional information

Weight 0.022 kg
Dimensions 43.1 × 35.6 cm