Catalogue description Captured ship: Le Fort de Nantes or El Fuerte (master Jean le Depancier). History: a...

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Details of HCA 32/111E
Reference: HCA 32/111E

Captured ship: Le Fort de Nantes or El Fuerte (master Jean le Depancier).

History: a French merchant ship with a French letter of marque and a Spanish register (700 tons, 32 guns, 120 men plus 60 passengers), bound from Vera Cruz via Havana to Cadiz, laden with 320,000 Spanish dollars, vanilla, cochineal, indigo, cocoa, logwood, sugar, tobacco, snuff, hides, jollop and sundry other goods; taken in fight on 25 December 1746 / 5 January 1747 in Latitude 35°, Longitude 357° [3° W] from Tenerife (30 or 40 leagues from Madeira), by HMS Gloucester (Charles Saunders commanding) and HMS Lark (David Cheap commanding), and brought into Plymouth.

The ship was owned by Antoine Wailsh of Nantes [Antoine Vincent Walsh, 1703-1763], and freighted by the Marqués de Casa Madrid for a fee of 20,000 dollars. A 'great number of papers' were thrown overboard before the capture, 'but what such papers related to [Depancier] cannot set forth, they throwing overboard in their hurry the first that came to hand'.

The ship sailed from Cadiz 16/27 February 1746, arriving at Vera Cruz 26 May / 6 June in company with the Princessa and several smaller vessels and convoyed by two men-of-war and two frigates, one of which was carrying the Governor of Havana to take over as viceroy of Mexico. On the return voyage, she sailed from Vera Cruz on or after 29 August (although there is one packet of letters dated Mexico, 9 September) to Havana, arriving 19/30 September, in company with El Dragon and three other ships, leaving there 7/18 November. The former viceroy of Mexico was a passenger in one of the escorting men-of-war.

The papers are mostly in Spanish, with some French, Italian, Latin and English. Subjectively, the impression is that there is a relatively high proportion of letters to women, and from women, and some between women. There are also several references to Spanish people of Irish extraction (Pedro Murphy, etc).

[Decision: condemned as prize, 16 February 1747].

Documents: Mail in Transit (originally in mail-bags) now numbered 1 to 319. (Described at item level)

Note: Re-catalogued to this level of detail in 2019
Date: 1695-1748
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: HCA 32/111/10; HCA 32/111/1/10; HCA 42/28; HCA 30/247; HCA 30/248; HCA 30/249; HCA 30/250; HCA 30/664; HCA 30/680
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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