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GUARDIAN (44) 5th rate Built in 1784, Limehouse.
Sold in 1791 after being beached in Table Bay in 1790.

  • 1789 armed en flute.

    Lieut. Edward RIOU. She was laden with stores for the new settlement at Port Jackson.
  • On 24 December 1789, in lat.
    S., long.
    E., the weather being extremely foggy, an island of ice was seen about 3 miles away and Lieut. RIOU approached to collect ice for water to supply the large number of cattle they had on board.
    The boats brought off several lumps while the ship lay to, then sail was made to stand off.
    The bow of the ship struck on an invisible, underwater part of the ice and her stern swung round, knocking off the rudder and badly damaging the stern frame, the ship becoming embayed under the terrific bulk of ice.
  • When at last the sails filled she began to forge off but struck again and continued crashing on the ice underneath her until she at last got clear.
    While they were congratulating themselves on escaping with little more than the loss of the rudder, the carpenter reported two feet of water in the hold and that it was increasing fast.
    Some time was spent getting the chain pumps working, meanwhile the cattle were cleared off the deck and a few hands between decks managed to get up and heave overboard most of the bags of flour, peas, wheat, barley, etc.
    that had been taken on in the Cape of Good Hope.
  • All the officers and men had been employed on clearing and pumping so Lieut. RIOU, realising that they would soon be exhausted, divided them into two watches and sent one half for refreshments.
    At daylight on the 25th. it was blowing a gale but they managed, with great difficulty, to get one of the lower studding sails filled with oakum under the ship's bottom.
    They were able to pump the water down to only 19 inches but the gale increased and the fore and main-top sails were blown to pieces leaving them at the mercy of the waves.
    When the starboard pump broke down the water reached to the orlop deck and was gaining a foot every half an hour.
    Many of the people were now so despondent that they left the pumps to secrete themselves and waited to perish with the ship.
  • The ship began to settle aft and water poured in through the rudder case so Lieut. RIOU ordered the boats to be hoisted out and allowed those who wished, to leave in them.
    The launch, with only 8 men on board, was swept clear but rowed back and received some provisions.
    A small quantity of biscuit and an 18 gallon cask of water was lowered into the small cutter and Mr WADMAN, Mr TREMLETT and the purser jumped down into her.
    Mr SOMERVILLE and John SPEARMAN, a seaman, jumped into the water and swam to the launch which also took Messrs. CLEMENTS, WADMAN, TREMLETT, the purser, the Rev.
    Mr CROWTHER, and two more of the men, out of the cutter, with two bags of biscuit and some water.
    Mr BRADY, midshipman, Mr FLETCHER, captain's clerk, and five seamen remained in the cutter but they could not be prevailed upon to return to the ship to take on more people and supplies.
    Mr CLEMENTS handed over a spare compass and quadrant to the jolly boat which had no water or provisions.
  • Meanwhile Lieut. RIOU and the remainder of the crew continued in the ship which, though water-logged, still floated.
    The ballast had been washed out of a large hole in her bows and the casks in the hold provided buoyancy.
    Indeed, in moderate weather, she was able to make 4 knots and Lieut. RIOU could keep her head on the course he wished to steer.
    His chief preoccupation was with his dispirited crew.
    who frequently threatened mutiny and at one time completed a raft on which they determined to take their chance, rather than remain on the ship.
    He persuaded them that the plan would lead to certain death.
    At length, on 21 February 1790, after nearly two months, land was sighted, and the GUARDIAN was towed into Table Bay by whale boats belonging to a British ship.
  • When he was frustrated in his attempts to get the ship round to Sadahana Bay, Lieut. RIOU was forced to beach her in Table Bay.
  • Those saved in the GUARDIAN were: The Hon. Thomas PITT (afterwards Lord CAMELFORD); Messrs. John GORE and David GILMOUR, midshipmen; John WILLIAMS, boatswain; Murrat SAMPSON, carpenter; John FAIRCLOUGH, surgeon's mate, thirty seamen and boys; twenty-one convicts and three of their superintendents and one female.
  • The people in the launch had already been rescued by a French merchantman, the VISCOUNTESS DE BANTANNIE, Martin Doree, Master, in latitude 32:50 South, about 87 leagues east of Point Natal, on the 3 January 1790 and taken into Table Bay and landed on the 19th.
    Nothing is known of the fate of the remainder.
  • The news of GUARDIAN was brought to the Admiralty late in the evening of 28 April by the master of a fishing vessel laying off Dungerness who had been hailed by the captain of a Dutch packet, six weeks from the Cape, who had given him a letter from Lieut. RIOU.
    During the night Lord Chatham set off in a post-chaise for Lord Camelford in the country to give him the glad tidings of his son's safety.
    Thomas was his only son and had taken a fancy to the sea again at his father's wishes; The voyage in GUARDIAN had been chosen to try and get it out of his system.
  • Lieut. RIOU was eventually made a post captain on 4 June 1794 when he was appointed to BEAULIEU (40), and was killed at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801 while commanding the AMAZON frigate.
    Mr GILMOUR became a commander in September 1799 and died on 17 September 1829, aged 54.
  • (See also Robert Burns' pages on Guardian at www.angelfire.com/trek/guardian/).

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