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Warships

Jacobean and Carolean «Middling Ships»
James C. Bender
August 21, 2004

The Elizabethan navy had a class of smaller galleons that formed a major part of the fighting force (which was quite small). Some of those ships, suitably rebuilt, continued to form an important part of the English fleet, both in the Civil War and served in the First Anglo-Dutch War and beyond. During both the reign of James I and Charles I, the group was expanded.

I had long counted the Lion in this group, but the Lion was actually a rebuild of a larger type of Elizabethan galleon, and was counted among the Great Ships. The Lion was a similar length, but had a burden about 100 tons greater. The real middling ships were generally between 450 and 550 tons burden, and originally carried about 34 guns.

The survivors that served in the First Anglo-Dutch War had 44 guns, with the lower tier being culverins (18pdr) and the upper tier demi-culverins (9pdr). The Leopard carried a heavier armament, although being a similar size. She was given somewhere between 48 to 52 guns, depending on which source you believe. From 1652 on, the survivors were rated as 4th Rates, although they gave a larger appearance. Again, I had assumed that they were small third rates, but only the Lion was so classified. The Lion was the only ship of this type to be in service at the Restoration and beyond.

The Leopard had a fairly long career in Dutch service as the Luipaard. She was listed as being in service in July 1654. Her dimensions in Amsterdam feet were: 145ft x 35ft x 14ft. Note that the Dutch measured ships differently, using the length from stem-to-sternpost and the beam inside the planking. At the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665, she carried 58 guns and had a crew of 280 men. The typical English crew during the First Anglo-Dutch War for these ships was 200 with 44 guns. We don't know of the Luipaard's service past Lowestoft.

NOTE: The burdens listed are those computed by earlier systems. These systems all use the actual measured depth in hold, rather than the normalized one used in the later system (LK x B x B/2 x 1/94), where B/2 was the normalized depth. The most common was: Burden = LK x B x D x 4/3 x 1/100. The Speedwell seems to have computed by an even earlier system: Burden = LK x B x D x 5/4 x 1/100. That system was in common use about 1600.
Key: LK=Length, B=Beam, D=Depth
Ship Date Shipyard Guns Burden LK B D Fate
Speedwell (ex-Swiftsure) RB 1607 Deptford 40 416 tons 74ft 30ft 15ft Wrecked in 1634
Dreadnought RB 1614 Deptford 32 552 tons 84ft 31ft 13ft Broken up in 1648
Convertine (ex-Destiny) 1616 Woolwich 34-44 500 tons 96ft 32ft-4in - Went to the Royalists in 1648 and sold in Portugal in 1650.
Antelope RB 1618 - 34 512 tons 92ft 32ft 12ft-6in Went to the Royalists in 1648. Burnt at Hellevoetsluis in 1649
Happy Entrance (or Entrance) 1619 Deptford 34-44 539 tons 96ft 32ft-2in 13ft-1in Accidentally burnt in 1659
Garland 1620 Deptford 34-44 567 tons 96ft 32ft 13ft-10in Captured by the Dutch at the Battle of Dungeness in 1652
Bonaventure 1621 Deptford 34-44 557 tons 96ft 32ft-5in 13ft-6in Blew up at the Battle of Livorno in 1653
Swallow 1634 Deptford 34-40 478 tons 96ft 32ft-2in 11ft-7in Went to the Royalists in 1648. Sold in France in 1653.
Leopard 1635 Woolwich 34-48 516 tons 95ft 33ft 12ft-4in Captured by the Dutch at the Battle of Livorno in 1653. Last mentioned in 1665, in Dutch service as the Luipaard
Lion (ex-Red Lion) RB 1640 Woolwich 40-50 626 tons 95ft 33ft 15ft Rebuilt in 1658
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