Catalogue description Captured ship: the John and Constant (master Roger Curling, and as a French prize,...

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Details of HCA 32/120/13
Reference: HCA 32/120/13

Captured ship: the John and Constant (master Roger Curling, and as a French prize, Thomas Laplanche).

History: an English merchant ship ([130 tons], 16 guns, 14 French men), bound from Leghorn (Livorno) to London, laden with marble blocks, brimstone, ladies' hats, wine and oil; taken on 9/20 July 1745 about 140 leagues off Ushant by the French warship La Parfaite in company with La Renommée, Le Mars, Le St Michel and three other French men-of-war, and sent in for Brest under the prize-master; retaken 13/24 July 1745 near Ushant by the privateers Old Noll of Liverpool (James Powell commanding) and Dragon of Bristol (James Seaborn commanding), and brought first into Cork, then into Stangate Creek for quarantine, and then into London.


Court Papers:

  • [CP 1-CP 5]: standing interrogatories, three examinations, commissioners' affidavit taken at Portsmouth 12 February 1746 [which delay may account for the confusion about the date of recapture];
  • [CP 6]: attestation and claim of the master;
  • [CP 7]: commission of sale;
  • [CP 8-CP 11]: commission for appraisal, account of costs, appraisal for the inventory and cargo, and account of sale;
  • [CP 12-CP 13]: attestation as to papers (described as the journal A, and bundles of papers B, C and D), and translation of the 1 French paper;

Ship's Papers numbered SP 0-SP 78:

  • SP 0: the muster roll and naval orders for the French prize crew, to go for Brest or any French port;
  • SP 1-SP 32: Italian bills of health issued at Livorno;
  • SP 33-SP 76: English bills of lading, Livorno to London, with attached receipts;
  • SP 77: the English log book, marked A, 30 December 1743-9 July 1745;
  • SP 78: wrapper for bundle B addressed to Nathaniel Bassneth, merchant in London.

Mail in transit nos 1-43C, from the French prize: 45 personal letters to family members (in French) written at sea on 20 and 21 July 1745 [NS] by the crews of the French ships of war Le Mars, Le St Michel and Le Superbe, which had captured a British ship about 100 leagues from Brest, 70 leagues from Ushant, identified in some letters (e.g. no 28) as the Jeanne Constant. The crew took the opportunity of their 'little' prize being taken to Brest, to send letters home with her. Several of these letters were written in the same hand, so by a literate shipmate for illiterate sailors. Another larger prize, coming from Lisbon, is also mentioned but not named.

[Papers from this ship were widely scattered before 2021: the log was added from HCA 32/118/2/18, now HCA 32/118/33; bills of lading were added from HCA 32/160/4; letters were added from HCA 30/241, HCA 30/283 and HCA 30/286]

[Decision: restored paying 1/3 salvage, 9 December 1746]

Date: 1745
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English, French and Italian
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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