HMS Speedwell, 1780


Speedwell;  bomb ketch; saw action on 2 continents; lost off Dieppe 1807 (scroll down for a more detailed Description)

Published 1968 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited; drawn by Scottish marine artist John Gardner (1930-2010)
Size: c. 44 x 35  cm [17″ x 14″] (may vary slightly from printers’ cut 50 years ago)
Printed on high white matt cardstock 144 g/sm2
Print is LARGE size – shipping is the same for 1 to 10 prints (based on largest print size in your order) – see Shipping & Returns.

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Royal Caroline Ketch
The Lady Caroline by John Cleveley the Elder (1712-1777). Speedwell, Fly and Happy were apparently designed to resemble this Royal Yacht. (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England)

Cutter rig (brig rig post 1796);
Built: unknown; purchased by the Admiralty in 1780;
193 Tons; Length: 75′ ft’ 3″ (22.9 m); Beam: 25′ 10″ (7.9 m); Hold depth: 10′ ft’ 2″ (3.1 m);
Armament: 24 Guns: 14 (later 16) × 4-lb (1.8 kg) guns; 10 × ½-lb (o.23 kg) swivel guns;
Before 1760 vessels below the size of frigate were not rated and referred to as sloops, always two-masted, rigged as snows, brigantines or ketches.  From the end of the 17th century, they were distinguished by their armament of one or two large-calibre mortars firing heavy shells or bombs. The blast caused damage to a foremast, so they removed it, leaving the square-rigged mainmast amidships and the mizzen aft. The resulting two-masted vessel was the bomb ketch.  Speedwell is an example of one of these.  A model can be seen at the Science Museum in London.  She was probably of a class of six sloops, three of which, Speedwell, Fly, and Happy, were ketch-rigged. With an armament of eight 4-pounder cannons, Speedwell was useful as tender or performing general fleet patrol duties. She was a merchant vessel purchased in 1780 during the Great Siege of Gibraltar.  During the Siege, her officers had some problems with mutinous crews.  In 1782, a Spanish two decker, San Miguel, foundered in a storm and was beached when fired on.  A boat from Speedwell took possession. The Spanish ship was a new build from Havana with a crew of over 600. The officers and crew of Speedwell participated in 4 bounty distributions – largely arising from the San Miguel.  In 1796 Speedwell was altered to a brig before capturing a French privateer that attempted to board her. After more adventures in the English Channel and North Sea, Speedwell was finally lost with all hands in a storm near Dieppe in 1807.

Additional information

Weight 0.0222 kg
Dimensions 43.1 × 35.6 cm