HMS Hydra (1838)
HMS Hydra (1838)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameHydra (1838)Explanation
Type2nd class sloop   
Launched13 June 1838
Builders measure817 tons
Displacement1096 tons
Ships bookADM 135/243
Snippets concerning this vessels career
19 January 1839
- 18 February 1840
Commanded by Commander Anthony William Milward, Mediterranean (until he died)
19 February 1840Commanded by Commander Robert Spencer Robinson, Mediterranean (including operations on the coast of Syria in 1840)
23 February 1840
- 3 March 1840
Commanded by Commander Robert Fanshawe Stopford, Mediterranean
26 December 1840
- 21 August 1842
Commanded by Commander Alexander Murray, North America and West Indies
7 August 1843Commanded (from commissioning at Woolwich) by Commander Horatio Beauman Young, west coast of Africa
November 1846
- 20 April 1847
Commanded (until paying off at Woolwich) by Commander Arthur Fleming Morrell, Ascension
2 December 1847Commanded by Commander Grey Skipwith, south-east coast of America
17 January 1852
- 10 August 1852
Commanded (from commissioning at Sheerness) by Commander Thomas Belgrave, Cape of Good Hope (until Belgrave invalided)
11 August 1852
- 21 January 1853
Commanded by Acting Commander William Everard Alphonso Gordon, Cape of Good Hope
22 January 1853
- 10 May 1856
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Commander Henry Gage Morris, Cape of Good Hope
4 June 1858
- 1862
Commanded by Commander Richard Vesey Hamilton, west coast of Africa, then West Indies
27 January 1862
- 23 August 1862
Commanded (until paying off at Woolwich) by Captain Richard Vesey Hamilton, North America and West Indies
10 November 1863Commanded by Commander Arthur Lukis Mansell, Mediterranean, surveying service
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Ma 14 September 1840It appears that neither the Salamander nor Comet steam-vessels are to be paid off; they are equipping at Woolwich, with great despatch; they will be both at Spithead about the last week in September. The Medea will leave Woolwich on the 24th. The Vesuvius is fitting at Chatham for the Mediterranean. These four steam ships will increase Sir R. Stopford's force to 10 powerful steam-vessels of war, he having already the Gorgon, Cyclops, Phoenix, Rhadamanthus, Hydra, and Stromboli; and to which there are several steamers already fitted for guns, &c., employed in the conveyance of the mails, such as the Acheron, Volcano, Prometheus, Megaera, Alecto, &c.
Fr 30 June 1848

Cape of Good Hope, April 21.

The President, 50, Captain Stanley, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Dacres, the Commander-in-Chief, sailed from Simon's-bay on the 15th for the Mauritius, taking the Rosamond steam sloop, Commander Foote, with him part of the way. The Rosamond was to go to Mozambique with despatches, and then on to the Mauritius to meet the Admiral there. The Geyser steam sloop, Commander Brown, left this on the 18th, calling off Buffalo River to land Colonel Hare, and then goes on to the Mauritius to join the Admiral; and then they all go to Tamatave to make a treaty with the Queen of Madagascar. The Brilliant, 26, Captain Watson, left this about a month since for the Mauritius, and remains there until the Admiral's arrival, and then she would go to Tamatave with him. The Eurydice, 26, Captain Anson, is to come here to refit; and the Nimrod, Commander Belgrave, on the Eurydice's arrival, will take the Bishop of the Cape to St. Helena on a visit. The Admiral still feels the loss of his son most acutely. The Mariner, 12, Commander Mathison, arrived here on the 15th, the day the Admiral left; she was 17 days from Rio, and left at anchor there the Maeander, 44, Captain the Hon. H. Keppel; the Inconstant, 36, Captain Shepphard [sic]; the Acheron steam surveying ship, Captain J.L. Stokes; and the Hydra steam sloop, Commander Skipwith; — all from England. The Maeander and Acheron are expected here hourly, as they were to leave three days after the Mariner, which has been here nearly a week. The latter leaves this on the 25th for India. All is quiet and going on prosperously in the colony. They have had a severe hurricane at the Mauritius; the damage done is considerable. The Fox, 42, Commodore Sir Henry Blackwood, is expected here every day from India, homeward bound; also the Albatross, 14, Commander Farquhar, from the coast of Africa, en route to India. The Devastation steam sloop, Commander Michell, is also daily expected here from the coast for service on this station. The Seringapatam store ship, Master Commanding Russell, is in Simon's-bay.
Fr 16 January 1852

15 January 1852

Appointments: Lieutenants John W. Pike (1848) to the Hydra steam sloop of 220 horse power, commissioned on the 15th at Sheerness; George O. Popplewell (1842) to be first in Britannia, 120, at Portsmouth; Frederick L. Cotton (1847), at present serving in the Coast Guard, to command the Stag revenue vessel, vice Brewer, promoted to be commander.
Gunner R.F. Moore, to the Hydra.
Boatswain H. M'Dougal to the Hydra.
Carpenter William Iago to the Hydra.
It is stated, although not as yet officially given, that Commander Thomas Belgrave (1848) will have the command of the Hydra steam sloop, at Sheerness; and that Major-General the Hon. George Cathcart, appointed Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, will proceed in her to his destination.
Sa 17 January 1852

16 January 1852

Appointments: Chief Engineer George Bardin to the Hydra steam sloop, at Sheerness.
Ma 19 January 1852

17 January 1852

Appointments: Master Edward M. Vincent (1851) to the Hydra steam sloop, at Sheerness.
Surgeon William Loney, M.D. (1845), to the Hydra.
Assistant Surgeons. - Thomas Hunter (1845), from the Waterloo, 120, flag-ship at Sheerness, to the Hydra; Francis H. Blaxall (1848), from the Victory, flag ship at Portsmouth. for service in the Naval Hospital, to the Waterloo, vice Hunter.
Tu 20 January 1852

19 January 1852

The Hydra steam-sloop, Commander Belgrave, arrived at Spithead this morning to complete for sea and embark Major-General Cathcart for the Cape of Good Hope
We 21 January 1852

20 January 1852

The Hydra steamer, Commander Belgrave, embarked 50 sailors from the Ganges, they having volunteered their services during her passage to Portsmouth. Mr Noddall, master, and Mr Troutbeck, second master of the London, were ordered to be lent to her for the purpose of assisting in navigating her to Portsmouth, for which port she sailed at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Sa 24 January 1852

23 January 1852

The Hydra steam-sloop, Commander Belgrave, hauled alongside the dockyard to-day to take on board luggage &c., for the new Governor of the Cape, who is expected to embark here on Tuesday next.
Ma 26 January 1852OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS.- General Cathcart, accompanied by his staff, will take his passage for the Cape from Portsmouth in a few days in Her Majesty's steam sloop of war Hydra, Commander Belgrave, which is about to proceed to the colony and to remain on that station. The new Minié rifles, ordered for the Cape, are not to be confined to the 43d Regiment, as stated, but will be distributed among the best marksmen of the different regiments engaged. First lieutenant Arthur Charles Greville, of the 60th Rifles, serving at the Cape, is appointed second aide-de-camp to the Governor. General Cathcart.
Ma 2 February 1852

1 February 1852

The Hydra steam-sloop, Commander Belgrave, will embark Major-General Cathcart and staff at this port on the 7th, for conveyance to the Cape, on which station the Hydra will remain.
Tu 3 February 1852

2 February 1852

The Hydra steam-sloop, Commander Belgrave, has shipped her powder and shells in harbour to-day.
Sa 7 February 1852

6 February 1852

The Hydra steam sloop, Commander Belgrave, will embark Major-General Cathcart and staff for the Cape of Good Hope to-morrow, and sail with them for their destination. She also takes out 50,000 l. sterling for the payment of the Toops engaged in the Caffre war. This was put on board of her this afternoon by Mr. G. Allen, Acting Master, commanding the steam tender Sprightly, and the Treasury officers.
Ma 9 February 1852

8 February 1852

A fine fair wind was blowing in the morning, which, however, speedily changed to a foul one, and during the night freshened to a gale, which now continues, so the Britannia and her gallant Admiral [Rear-Admiral James Whitley Deans Dundas, newly appointed to the Mediterranean station] are weatherbound at Spithead.
The Hydra steam-sloop, Commander Belgrave, embarked Major-General Cathcart, Major-General Yorke, and staff at Spithead, at half past 5 last evening, from the steam-tender Sprightly, Mr George Allen acting Master-commanding, and sailed with them for the Cape of Good Hope. They must have experienced an awful night at sea in such a vessel.
Th 12 February 1852

11 February 1852

Her Majesty's steam vessel Hydra, Commander T. Belgrave, which left Portsmouth on Saturday evening with Lieutenant-General the Hon. J. Cathcart, the newly-appointed Governor at the Cape, and suite, put in here [Plymouth] through stress of weather on Monday evening, and having made good some slight defects and filled up with coal, sailed again last evening for the Cape of Good Hope.
Sa 14 February 1852

12 February 1852

Her Majesty's steam sloop Hydra, Mr. Thomas Belgrave commander, after starting from Portsmouth for the Cape of Good Hope, with the new governor of that colony, General Cathcart, and suite, wrung her rudder-head, and was in consequence obliged to put into Plymouth on Monday afternoon last, to have the necessary repairs effected.
Tu 6 April 1852We have received the following important intelligence by express engine from Plymouth to Bristol, and thence by electric telegraph :-


"The Propontis mail-packet which left the Cape on the 3d of March, is just arrived… Neither the steam frigate Megaera, with the Rifle Corps 60th, nor the Hydra with General Cathcart, had arrived. The Hydra left Sierra Leone for the Cape on the 2d of March... The Propontis brings the distressing intelligence of the loss of the Birkenhead troop ship on the 26th of February, near Simon's Bay. 446 persons are missing. Naval officers drowned :- Salmond, Commander; Brodie, Master; Speer, second ditto; Davis, ditto; Whyham, chief engineer; Hare, master's assistant; Macclymont and Deely, assistant engineers. The boatswain Harris, and carpenter Roberts. Military officers drowned:-Second or Queen's Regiment, Ensign Boyland; Sixth Regiment, Ensign Medford; 73d Regiment, Lieutenant G.W. Robinson, Lieutenant A.H. Booth; 74th Highlanders, Major Seton, Ensign Russell; 12th Lancers, Cornet Rolt."
We 7 April 1852

HOUSE OF COMMONS, Tuesday, April 6

Mr. ADDERLEY begged to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether any information had been received by the Admiralty respecting the loss of the Birkenhead steam-frigate? Also whether the hon. Gentleman could inform the House of the number of souls, on board that steamer when she left England? And whether he could communicate to the House the latest intelligence received at the Admiralty with regard to the Megaera and Hydra?

Mr. STAFFORD replied, that at half-past 10 o'clock that morning the Admiralty received, not by an official communication, but by the telegraph common to others, information of the distressing event to which the hon. gentleman referred. They immediately telegraphed to Admiral Sir John Ommanney, at Plymouth, requiring him to communicate the circumstances. No answer was received to that message, and at half-past 2 o'clock a letter was despatched to Sir J. Ommanney, asking an explanation of the reason of the delay. Until such answer was received, it would, of course, be premiture on his part to pronounce any opinion upon the cause of that delay. He waited at the Admiralty until the last moment - half past 4 o'clock - at which time no information had been received. The number of souls on board the Birkenhead was, he believed, upwards of 600. (Sensation.) He might observe with regard to the other two vessels to which the hon. gentleman had referred, that the Megaera left Devonport on the 7th of January, and Madeira on the 27th, and that she was communicated with by the Bosphorus on the 29th of January, in latitude 28 13 north, longitude 18 18 west. Private letters had, he believed, been received from her off Sierra Leone. The Hydra sailed from Devonport on the 10th of February, was at Madeira on the 20th of February, and at Sierra Leone on the 2d of March.

Sa 8 May 1852Her Majesty's steamer Hydra, 6, Master Commander Belgrave, which left Plymouth, on. the 10th of February, and St. Paul de Loando on the 16th of March, arrived with Lieutenant-General the Hon. G. Cathcart; lieutenant-Colonel Seymour, Secretary), and the Hon. B. Curzon (Aide-de-Camp) on the 31st of March.

The following is the letter of our correspondent, dated Cape Town, April 1, 1852:-
"The new Governor, Lieutenant-General the Hon. G. Cathcart, and suite arrived yesterday in Her Majesty's steamer Hydra. He landed at 10 o'clock, and proceeded immediately to Government House, where he was sworn in, as well as Lieutenant-Governor Darling, who with Major-General Yorke, had previously arrived in the Harbinger. His Excellency leaves this for the frontier by Her Majesty's steamer Styx on Sunday next. General Yorke and Major Hogge will accompany him. Sir Harry Smith (for whom the greatest sympathy is felt by all classes) returns in the Styx, and he and Lady Smith will then immediately embark for England in Her Majesty's steam frigate Gladiator, which has been placed at their disposal by the Commodore… Her Majesty's steamer Gladiator, Captain Adams, from the west coast, takes Sir H. Smith, home. The Hydra remains on the station.

Ma 18 October 1852

17 October 1852

Commander Belgrave, of the Hydra steam-sloop, on the Cape of Good Hope station, haa come home in the Bosphorus packet, having resigned the command.
Ma 18 October 1852At Simon's Bay.- Her Majesty's steam-sloop Rhadamanthus, Hydra, brigantine Dart. Her Majesty's steam-sloop Styx, Captain Hall, left Table Bay for the Buffalo on the 1st of September... Captain Belgrave, of the Hydra, and Mr. Patterson, late master's asaistaat of Her Majesty's brig Rapid, were invalided, and the latter died at sea on board the Bosphorus on the 7th instant.
Tu 16 November 1852Her Majesty's steamer Hydra is en route with the new lighthouse for Bird Island.
Tu 14 December 1852

13 December 1852

Her Majesty's steam-vessel Hydra left Table-bay in October with the new lighthouse for Bird Islands, and returned on the 30th of October to Simon's-bay.
We 26 January 1853


Simon's-bay. Dec. 20.

The Herald, Captain Denham, on surveying espedition to the South Seas, arrived on the 7th. She is refitting, and proceeds in a few days to Sydney. Captain Denham has been down to Cape Point in the Hydra for the purpose of making some observations connected with the lighthouse about to be erected there.

PLYMOUTH, Jan. 25.

By the Lady Jocelyn, Captain Stewart, which arrived on Sunday night from the Cape, we learn that Her Majesty's steam vessel Hydra returned on the 17th of December from Danger Point, and was to proceed there again on the 23d, by Admiralty order, to survey the scene of the Birkenhead's disaster. Capiain Denham, F.R.S., in the surveying ship Herald, was at Simons'-bay on passage to the South Seas.

Tu 26 July 1853A letter from Cape Town of the 11th of June says, "Nothing has occurred to disturb the peace now happily established, not only within the colony, but among the tribes along its borders." … At Simon's-bay were Her Majesty s ship Meander, 44, Commodore Talbot, and steamvessel Dee, Lieutenant Smith, the brig Grecian, and the brigantine Dart. The steamer Hydra left for the Mauritius upon the 17th of May.
Sa 20 August 1853Arrivals at Mauritius.- The Regina, from Algoa Biy, in 31 days; June 8, Her Majesty's steamer Hydra, in 19 days from Simon's-bay; June 9, the Maria Burriss, from Table Bay, in 21 days; the Bella Vue, in 21 days ; June 10, the William Bayley, from Algoa Bay, in 21 days; June 7, the Indiana, in 12 days; the Domitis, in 16 days; June 19, the John King, in 21 days.
Ma 17 October 1853Her Majesty's steamer Hydra arrived in Simon's Bay on the 3d inst. from Mauritius, and the screw steamer William Miskin two days previous, bound, to Melbourne. The ship Scindian sailed on tha 28th. ult. for London.
Sa 3 June 1854The Hydra (broken down) as senior officer's ship, tho Penguin, Dee, and Dart were at Simon's Bay on the 17th of April; the Nerbudda in the Mozambique.
Fr 13 July 1855


The colony is tranquil. His Excellency the Governor, Sir George Grey, was about to proceed in the Hydra to Natal, for the purpose, it is said, of adding Delagoa-bay to the Natal colony.

Sa 27 October 1855Her Majesty's steamer Hydra left Simon's Bay for surveying on the 31st of August.
Sa 12 April 1856

11 April 1856

By the arrival of Her Majesty's steamsloop Hydra, 6, Commander H. G. Morris, we have advices from this colony and station to the l6th of February, on which day the following ships were on the station: - The Castor, 6, Commodore H. D. Trotter; the Penelope, 18, Captain Sir W. Wiseman; the Frolic, 16, Commander Nolloth; the Grecian, 16, Captain Blane. The Castor and the Frolic were to proceed to Tristan d'Acunha in a few days, in order to convey to the Cape the few inhabitants (some 130) of that desolate spot. The Dart was in Mozambique Channel, and will, it is hoped, bring back the traveller, Dr. Livingstone, who started from St. Paul de Loanda a long time ago with the intention of reaching one of the Portuguese possessions on the east coast of Africa.
Her Majesty's ship Nerbudda, 12, Commander Kerr, so long missing, is now quite given up, no traces whatever of her having been found after the most diligent search.
The Hydra brings home Mr. Pearne, paymaster of the Frolic, who exchanged with Mr. Saunders, of the Hydra, and also Mr. Pearce, late acting second master of the Frolic, both of these officers having suffered during the late cruise up the Mozambique in the brig, which lost several men by sickness, and still had a number of her crew in the hospital at Simon's-bay, dysentery being the prevailing disease.
The colony still remains quite quiet, and, owing in a great degree to the energetic measures. of the Governor, Sir George Grey, who has lately resided some months on the Caffre frontier, in order to see into matters with his own eyes, and to carry out himself the course devised by him, no Caffre war or disturbance is apprehended.
We 23 April 1856The "Great Naval Review" of the fleet being prepared for the 1856 Baltic campaign.
Tu 6 May 1856The Hydra, 6 guns, paddlewheel steam sloop, Commander Henry G. Morris, has been taken into the fitting basin at Sheerness, and is to be paid off on Saturday next.
Tu 20 October 1863The gunboat Speedwell, Commander George F. Cottam, has sailed from Greenhithe, after the adjustment of compasses, for her station on the West Coast of Africa, and the iron storeship Supply, Master Commander Bawden, has also sailed from Greenhithe, with a cargo of victualling and dockyard stores from Deptford and Woolwich, for Gibraltar and Malta.
Ma 9 November 1863The Orontes, screw iron troopship, Capt. W.H. Hire, arrived at Spithead, late on Friday evening, from Malta and Gibraltar, with the following freight on board:- Saloon Passengers.-Dr. Kelly, R.N., from Malta Hospital; Lieut. Calder, R.N., from Her Majesty's ship Phoebe; Mr. Inuis, naval cadet, Her Majesty's ship Liffey; Capt. Leadbetter, 25th Regiment, in charge of military invalids; Lieut. Skinner, 8th Regiment (2d battalion); Dr. Annersley, Inspector-General of Hospitals, Mrs. Annersley and family, Capt. Fitzroy Somerset, R.E., Capt. Ridout, R.A., Capt. Squirl, 2d Regiment; Dr. Sinclair, R.A, and Assist.-Surgeon Graves, R.A. in medical charge of invalids; Mr. Sinclair and family, Mrs. Capt. Barnett and child, Mrs. Spratt and family, Mrs. Hibbert and servant. Her troop and naval list comprised:- 124 military invalids, 59 time-expired men, 10 military prisoners, 7 insane soldiers, 22 soldiers' wives and 38 children, from various regiments, and 130 naval invalids from the Mediterranean fleet. The military invalids were transferred from the ship on Saturday to Netley Hospital, and the time expired men, women, and children, insane men and prisoners, to the depôts of their regiments, &c. The naval invalids were transferred to Her Majesty's ship Victory, and the Royal and Naval Hospital at Haslar. Two warders and 32 convicts (the latter are tickets of leave), who also came from Gibraltar in the ship, were transferred to the convict prison at Portsea. Some 700 tons of old stores and a large quantity of condemned powder has been sent to England in the ship from Malta and Gibraltar. The Orontes sailed from Malta on the 31st ult., leaving at anchor there Her Majesty's ships Hydra, Procris, and Redpole. The Malacca, 20, screw, sailed from the Rock for England on the 29th ult. The Gibraltar, screw, liner, Capt. Prevost, sailed for Malta on the 31st ult. The Racoon, 20, screw, Captain Count Gleichen, was lying at Malaga. At Malta there was great dullness of trade, and consequent grumbling ashore, owing to the lengthened absence of the fleet at the Piraeus. Since leaving England the Orontes has done very efficient service in the Mediterranean in the exchange of regiments between Malta and Gibraltar, and in the performance of which duty the conduct and attention to the wants of their military passengers of Capt. Hire and his officers are spoken of in very high terms. It is, however, stated that although the Orontes was designed and constructed for an improved Himalaya, she is, in fact, very far from being even the equal of that vessel. Her machinery is of insufficient power, and she can with difficulty average 10 knots. Her steering power is also defective, her wheel requiring considerable alterations. At present it takes six men in ordinary weather to steer her. She is an excellent sea boat and remarkably easy in rough weather. Her immediate requirements (to make her approach the Himalaya in comfort to her passengers and in speed) are, a poop on the upper deck, and the present cabin space on the main deck added to the troop berthing; some alterations to her machinery, and additional boiler space. It will take about three weeks to make good her ordinary defects.

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