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HMS Racoon (1808)

Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Racoon
Ordered: 19 October 1805
Builder: John Preston, Great Yarmouth
Laid down: March 1806
Launched: 30 March 1808
Commissioned: June 1808
Reclassified: Convict prison ship in 1819
Fate: Sold 1838
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Cormorant class sloop
Tons burthen: 425 8894 (bm)
Length: 108 ft 4 in (33.0 m) overall
90 ft 8 34 in (27.7 m) keel
Beam: 29 ft 8 12 in (9.1 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: 121

Upper deck: 16 x 32-pounder carronades
QD: 6 x 18-pounder carronades

Fc: 2 x 6-pounder guns + 2 x 18-pounder carronades

HMS Racoon, sometimes spelled HMS Raccoon, was an 18-gun ship sloop of the Cormorant Class of the Royal Navy. She was built by John Preston, of Great Yarmouth, and launched on 30 March 1808. She sailed as far as Fort Astoria on the Columbia River. She became a hospital ship in 1819 and finally was sold in 1838.


  • Service 1
  • Post-war and fate 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes, citations, references 4


Her first commander was Commander James Welsh, under whom she was sent to operate off the African coast. He sailed her to Jamaica on 16 June 1809, but died there in November. His replacement was Commander William Black.[1] returning to Portsmouth in 1812.[1]

On 14 January 1813 Racoon captured the Hope, which the enemy recaptured. Still, a £25,000 insurance payment was payable to Racoon.[Note 1]

Racoon sailed from Rio de Janeiro on 6 July 1813 in company with HMS Phoebe and HMS Cherub, sailing around Cape Horn to the Juan Fernandez Islands.

The Royal Navy had been under pressure from the Montreal based North West Company, who were agitating for them to capture the base of their rival, the Pacific Fur Company. At this point Phoebe and Cherub were detached to search for the USS Essex, with Racoon continuing on. While sailing to the Columbia River an accident during gunnery exercises killed eight and wounded 20.

Before the Racoon arrived at their proposed destination of the fur trading outpost of Fort Astoria, the North West Company had completed a deal with the Pacific Fur Company that since British ships would be imminently arriving to "take and destroy everything American on the Northwest coast," that they would purchase the assets, for a third of their value. Black arrived to find the matter already settled, though he went through a ceremony of possession and renamed the facility Fort George.

One person aboard the Racoon when she arrived at Fort Astoria was Naukane (also known as John Coxe), a Native Hawaiian. The North West Company had hired him as a laborer and to serve as an interpreter for future visits to the Hawaiian Islands.

Black continued in command of Racoon, sailing to Lima in 1814. On 15 January Cherub and Racoon left Rio de Janeiro, excorting a convoy that included the storeships Prevoyanbte and Serapis, and seven merchantmen.[3] The left Pernambuco on 6 March.[4]

Lieutenant James Mangles (acting) was in command of Raccoon at the Cape of Good Hope in 1815. Captain Alexander Montgomerie replaced Black in 1815. Captain John Cook Carpenter was appointed to command in May 1815.[1]

Post-war and fate

Racoon was re-rated as a 20-gun sixth rate in January 1817, under Captain Robert Worgan Festing in 1817.

Between September and October 1819 she underwent conversion to a convict hospital ship at Portsmouth. She remained in service until the Navy sold her for £820 to Mr. Soames on 16 August 1838.[1]

See also

Notes, citations, references

  1. ^ A first class share was worth £3164 17s 3d; a sixth-class share was worth £68 6s 4½d.[2]
  1. ^ a b c d e Winfield (2008), p.260.
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 16598. p. 2294. 19 November 1814.
  3. ^ Lloyd's List,[1] - accessed 26 November 2013.
  4. ^ Lloyd's List,[2] - accessed 25 November 2013.
  • Lyon, David and Winfield, Rif, The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889, Chatham Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1-86176-032-9.
  • Winfield, Rif, British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. 2nd edition, Seaforth Publishing, 2005. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
  • , p. 108,History of British Columbia from its earliest discovery to the present time Alexander Begg, publ. William Briggs, Toronto, 1894
  • , p.432,British Columbia from the earliest times to the present. Vol. 1 E.O.S. Scholefield & F.W. Howay, Vancouver, British Columbia: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1914
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