Lost on board HMS Blenheim

Context Note: One of the sailors on board HMS Blenheim was Frederick Le Mesurier (1786-1807), son of Havilland Le Mesurier (1758-1806) and first-cousin of Julia (Le Mesurier) Bandinel.


There is too much reason to fear that we shall hear no more of the Blenheim man of war. A letter from on board the Harrier sloop of war at the Cape of Good Hope, received in Salisbury, intimates that both the Blenheim and Java have perished. The following account is extracted from this interesting letter, dated Table Bay, March 13. –

“On the 1st of February, off Mauritius, in long, 61. 11. lat. 20. 21. we experienced most dreadful weather, which I fear has proved fatal to the Blenheim and Java. Early in the morning of the 1st, it came on to blow fresh and increased to a hard […] at four o’clock in the afternoon. – We lost sight [of] the Blenheim and Java, which were not more than [a] mile from us. The night was dreadful beyond [de]scription. – It blew a perfect hurricane, with a […] tremendous sea. We shipped a great quantity [of] water; every sea broke directly over the vessel, […] she rolled so much that it was with great difficulty the people could stand on the deck. If we [at]tempted to shew any inch of sail, it was blown […] the yard. One poor fellow was blown over in [the] afternoon: we saw him at intervals a long [way] astern, struggling with the waves. During the [night] the ports were stove in, and washed away, and [a] great quantity of water ran below. A little before day-light, a sea struck her, and immediately [after] another, which laid her dead in the water. […] had broached to, and was going down a head. [She] remained water-logged for some minutes, and [had] she been struck a third time she must have gone. We threw over-board four guns and some […] which lightened her. During the time she was water-logged, the water increased in the well, in the space of three seconds, from 12 to 32 inches. We had continued bad weather afterwards, but arrived here on the 28th February, and were much disappointed in not finding either the Blenheim or Java; and as they have not since been heard of, while other vessels that were in the gale have arrived, there is now no hope of their safety. The Blenheim was in a very decayed state, and much lumbered with stores; the Java badly manned, and extremely crank. There were between seven and eight hundred souls on board the Blenheim, with many passengers. Most of the Midshipmen were young men of the first families in England, and some very worthy fellows, who would at a future time have done honour to their country.”

(Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal, 23rd June 1807)

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