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CORNWALLIS (54) An HEIC cruiser built of teak by Jemsatjee Bomanjee and purchased for the Royal Navy in 1801 soon after returning from an expedition against the Mahe Islands.
Sold in 1862.

  • She had a complement of 335 men.
    She was so strongly built that, apart from spars, she suffered very little in three furious typhoons she encountered in the China seas during 1805.
  • 1805 Capt. Charles James JOHNSTON, 06/1805, his appointment was confirmed at home in September 1806, Bombay. She was stationed off Mauritius during 1806 and on 11 November SCEPTRE, Capt. BINGHAM, and CORNWALLIS staged a raid on French shipping in St. Paul's Bay, Reunion, where the SURVEILLANTE frigate with her eight British prizes valued at nearly 1,500,000 was waiting for on opportunity to stand over to Port Louis.
    Three armed ships and four other prizes were also in the bay.
    The British warships were becalmed when the heavy cannonade stilled what little breeze there was and no prizes were recovered.
    The crews of the two ships were suffering from scurvy and, following the attack it was necessary for them to sail to Madagascar for fresh provisions.
  • On 9 February 1807 CORNWALLIS left Madras for Port Jackson (Sydney), being the first man-of-war to sail through the Bass Strait.
    On leaving Australia she sailed round the south of New Zealand and was off Chatham Island on 16 May.
    On 16 June she stood in to Cumberland Bay on the N. E. side of the island of Juan Fernandez in the expectation of finding some enemy cruisers, but no vessels or boats were to be seen.
  • Two days after leaving Juan Fernandez, several of the ship's company were killed and many dreadfully burnt when a quantity of blank musket cartridges exploded in the gunner's store.
    Following an exercise they had not been returned them to the magazine as the captain's standing orders laid down, and they had been ignited when one of the crew snapped his lock while fitting a new flint.
    The decks were forced up and the fore-cockpit set on fire but eventually it was extinguished at the cost of half water-logging the ship.
  • On the 20th. they made land to the southward of Valparaiso and on the 22nd reconnoitred Coquimbo but found no vessels.
    When they were becalmed there the boats found it difficult to prevent the swell diving her ashore.
  • CORNWALLIS anchored in Guasco Bay under American colours on the 27th. and Lieut. BARBER brought off sheep and poultry which he had to obtain forcibly.
    Lieut. ROBSON was drowned when he attempted to swim a line ashore from the launch which had gone in for fresh water.
    On 2 July the inhabitants took away two water tubs so, when Lieut. BARBER found a quantity of copper deposited near the beach, an armed party was landed to seize it.
    They also brought off 31 pigs and took two Spanish soldiers prisoners.
  • The jolly boat captured a small vessel and two brigs near Porto Iquique in Peru on 8 July.
    CORNWALLIS destroyed ROSALIA of 375 tons of Elo on the 13th. and her boats sank a brig in the offing.
    The following day Lieuts. BARBER, CROSBY and ELTON with Lieut. Lane of the 84th. regiment landed with seamen and soldiers and brought off some more livestock.
  • For the next three months CORNWALLIS continued to range along the west coast of South America capturing merchant vessels.
    Two brigs laden with spirits were taken by boats under Lieut. BARBER on 17 July, a brig on the 22nd, and another on the 25th.
    Two days later a Spanish gunbrig mounting two brass 18-pounders and two iron 4-pounders was taken while attempting to escape by sweeping.
    Two of her crew of 37 were killed and one mortally wounded. She was manned as a tender under Lieut. ELTON.
    An ex-English whaler ATLANTIC, now mounting seventeen 4-pounders, was captured by the boats off Patabilco on the 28th. and, on 1 August in Truxillo roads, the PEGASUS laden with spirits, sugar and rice.
  • On 4 August Lieut. BARBER took his gunbrig and the boats into Porto Paita where they destroyed four vessels.
    In three days off Puna Island two brigs and two gun vessels were taken, five bullocks found aboard the prizes were very welcome since only the sick had had fresh meat in the last 107 days.
    72 officers and men from the gun vessels were released on parole to join the 340 Spanish subjects which had been put on shore at various times.
  • CORWALLIS brought up off Tobago, a small island a few miles from the port of Panama, on 31 August.
    A landing party was involved in a fight with a Spanish force, killing and wounding several soldiers and disarming the rest.
  • The intention, on leaving Tobago on 4 September, was to go along the coast as far as Acapulco, but light winds and contrary currents meant that it took 21 days to get to the westward of the Gulf of Panama.
    So, after a few days off Acapulco, Capt. JOHNSTON set course for the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii or Owhyhee as it was then spelt) on 10 November.
    Here he obtained pork, vegetables and water before clearing the islands on 9 December.
  • Two small islands and a dangerous reef were discovered on the 14th. in lat. 15deg 52min N. and long. 190deg 26min E. which were named the Cornwallis Islands.
    Another group, also named the Cornwallis Islands, were discovered in a similar latitude at 168deg 42 E. when CORNWALLIS was only saved from running on to a dangerous reef by the coming of daylight.
  • One of the Ladrone Islands was seen on 29 December and on 9 January 1808 she anchored off Lintin where she collected nine of the Hon. E. I. Co.
    ships to escort to Malacca.
    Arriving there on the 23rd. Capt. JOHNSTON handed over the convoy to DRAKE.
  • During her cruise only one man had died of scurvy, a tribute to the good quality of the provisions supplied in Madras, and to the surgeon, Mr COLEY.
  • When CORNWALLIS arrived in Madras Capt. JOHNSTON moved to POWERFUL (74) on 18 February.
  • 1808 Capt. Fleetwood B. R. PELLEW, East Indies.
  • 1809 Capt. William Augustus MONTAGUE, East Indies.
    Because CORNWALLIS was deficient in marines, Vice Ad. DRURY had borrowed native troops from the Madras government to make up her numbers.
  • On 17 January 1810 Capt. MONTAGUE sent, under flag of truce, a request to the fort of Boolo-Combo, on the island of Celebes, to be allowed to water his ship.
    When this was rejected he landed 100 men under Capt. Forbes of the Madras European regiment and drove out 30 Dutch soldiers and 200 native troops.
    The latter took to the woods and continued to annoy them during their stay, killing one man and wounding nine others.
    The eight 9-pounders were spiked and the ammunition brought off.
    Eleven small boats were burnt.
  • A Dutch brig, under the protection of a fort on the island of Manippa, between Ceram and Buru, was cut out by three boats under Lieut. VIDAL on 1 February. She was found to have a very welcome cargo of turtle, fowls, fruit and sago, which she was taking to the island of Amboyna, south of Ceram.
  • On 3 February the Dutch sloop MANDARINE of 16 guns and 66 men was captured and manned as a tender.
    The two ships joined DOVER, Capt. Edward TUCKER, and SAMARANG, Capt. Richard SPENCER, on 9 February, for an attack on Amboyna.
  • They found that the defences of the town of Victoria and the anchorage at Portuguese Bay had been considerably strengthened since Britain gave up the island in 1803.
    In addition to the fort, a battery on the beach mounted four 12-pounders, one 8-pounder, two 6-pounders and a brass 32-pounder.
    Another, on piles far out to sea, mounted nine 12-pounders and a 32-pounder.
  • On the afternoon of the 16th. the ships bore up together and slipped their boats at the same moment as they passed within a cable of the planned landing place before opening fire on the batteries.
    The boats carried 401 officers and men under Capt. Court of the H. E.I. Co.marine artillery.
    The troops, seamen and marines immediately stormed and gained possession of the batteries on the heights with the total loss of 4 killed and 11 wounded.
  • The batteries on the beach and at sea were abandoned by the Dutch during the night and the following day shot fired from the heights in to the fort induced the Dutch commandant to agree to surrender terms.
    Amboyna had been defended by 130 Europeans and 1,000 native troops with 215 pieces of mounted ordnance.
    Three vessels were sunk in the harbour, the MANDURESE, an 18-gun-brig later raised, and two cutters, one named the SAN PAN.
  • CORNWALLIS chased a Dutch man-of-war brig throughout the whole of 1 March until she took refuge in a small bay on the island of Amblaw.
    As night approached the yawl, cutter and jolly-boat, under the command of Lieut. PEACHEY (later Lord SELSEY), assisted by Mr GARLAND, master, and Mr SANDERSON, master's mate, to bring her out.
    After pulling all night they boarded at daylight in the face of a heavy fire of grape and musketry and found she that she was the MARGARETTE with 8 guns and 40 men. She had left Souroubaya nine days earlier with between 20 and 30 thousand dollars for Amboyna and supplies for Ternate.
    One man of the attackers was dangerously wounded and four slightly.
  • 1810 Capt. William FISHER.
    CORNWALLIS was with Vice Ad. BERTIE's fleet of men of war and transports which landed troops in Grand Bay, Mauritius, on 29 November.
    The island capitulated on 3 December.
  • 1811 Capt E. W. HOARE, East Indies.
  • She returned home under the command of Capt. Andrew KING who removed from IPHIGENIA.
  • 1814 Plymouth.

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