HMS Raleigh (1845)
HMS Raleigh (1845)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameRaleigh (1845)Explanation
TypeFourth rate   
Launched8 May 1845
Builders measure1939 tons
Ships book
Note1857.04.14 wrecked near Macao
Snippets concerning this vessels career
13 February 1846
- 10 January 1847
Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham) by Captain Thomas Herbert, Squadron of Evolution and then (as Commodore) South-east coast of America
11 January 1847
- 16 October 1848
Commanded by Captain Stephen Grenville Fremantle, flagship of Commodore Thomas Herbert on the South-east coast of America station
19 October 1848
- 6 February 1850
Commanded (until paying off at Portsmouth) by Captain George Hope, flagship of Commodore Thomas Herbert on the South-east coast of America station
17 September 1856
- 14 April 1857
Commanded by Commodore Henry Keppel, flagship of William Willmott Henderson, en route to the East Indies and China (where appointed second in command) until wrecked near Macaw when the ship struck an uncharted rock; all saved
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Ma 11 January 1847The squadron in the River Plate was distributed as follows, on the 29th of October:- the Vernon, 50, Captain Fitzgerald, flag of Rear-Admiral Inglefield: the Raleigh, 50, Commodore Sir Thomas Herbert; the Eagle, 50, Captain G.B. Martin; the Melampus, 42, Captain Campbell, and the Comus, 16, Commander D?Eyncourt, were at Montevideo.
The Cura?oa, 24, Captain Broughton, and the Dolphin 3, Lieutenant-Commander Miller, were at Rio on the 18th of November, the latter having arrived from Montevideo five days prior.
The Grecian, 16, Commander Tindal, was at Busca.
The Racer, 18, Commander Reed, was at Colonia.
The Satellite, 18, Commander Rowley, was at Maldonado.
The Firebrand steam frigate, Captain Hope, and the Harpy steam vessel, Lieutenant Tomlinson, was at Buenos Ayres.
The Acorn, 18, Commander Bingham, was at Paraguay.
The Alecto steam sloop, Commander Massingberd, had proceeded up the Urugay to relieve the iron steam vessel Lizard, Lieutenant-Commander Tylden.
The Dido, 20, Captain Maxwell, sailed from Monte Video for the East Indies on the 29th of October.
The Carysfort, 26, Captain G.H. Seymour, arrived at Valparaiso on the 19th of October, from Sydney and New Zealand (where sho had landed the new Governor and specie), and remained there on the 24th refitting.
The Salamander steam sloop, Captain Hamond, left Valparaiso for Rio and England on the 1st of October.
Tho Sampson steam frigate, Captain T. Henderson, left Valparaiso on the 25th of October for Talcahuano, and on an experimental sailing cruize.
The Nereus store ship, Master Commander Bateman, was under orders, at the above date, to proceed from Valparaiso to Callao.
Ma 4 May 1857The Raleigh, 50, sailing frigate, Commodore the Hon. Henry Keppel, C.B., on her way from England to the East India station, was all well on the 7th of March, a letter from her of which date says, "We have not yet reached a port in India, but hope to do so to-morrow."
Fr 29 May 1857


"The Raleigh, 50 gun frigate, has run aground."* The Bittern has gone to retrieve her guns.
*The telegraphic despatch says:- "Struck on the Five Miles, and was beached to save her." There is no doubt that she is lost.
Fr 29 May 1857The news of the loss of Her Majesty's fine 50-gun sailing frigate Raleigh, under the command of Commodore the Hon. H. Keppel, was telegraphed to Portsea yesterday afternoon, and on its dissemination caused the saddest excitement; she was a noble ship, and most admirably officered and manned; she was commissioned on the 17th of September last as the senior officer's ship for the India station.
Ma 1 June 1857

(From our own correspondent.)

April 15, Noon.

A report has been received here this morning that Her Majesty’s ship Raleigh, on her way up from Singapore, struck on a rock somewhere near Macao, and it was necessary to run her ashore. The Admiral, we believe, has advices. Assistance will be sent down at once to the Raleigh. A French war steamer will be one of the vessels.
The mail is closing and we are unable to get any further particulars of this accident.
Tu 2 June 1857The Raleigh.— We are glad to be able to contradict the reported loss of this fine frigate, It appears that the Raleigh struck on a rock on April 14, about 20 miles from Hongkong, and sprang a leak. She was beached near Macao. No casualty to anyone resulted from the accident.
Ma 8 June 1857


"It is hoped that the Raleigh will be raised."
Tu 9 June 1857

(From our own correspondent.)

HONGKONG, April 26.

I regret to say that the report mentioned in my letter of the 15th inst. of the accident to Her Majesty's ship Raleigh turned out to be correct. On the 14th inst., at about 1 p.m., when near the island of Chook-chow, about five or six miles south east of Macao, the vessel struck on a sunken rock, and sustained such serious injury that it was necessary to run her ashore, which was accordingly done on the east side of Ko-ho Island. The vessel is in a precarious situation, and has sunk considerably in the mud. The water is up to her upper-deck. The rock the Raleigh struck on is said not to have been marked on the English charts.
Previous to the vessel being run ashore a signal of distress was fired, and then a salute to the French Admiral on board the Virginie, which was in sight. The French steamer Catinat was at once despatched to render assistance, and brought over the report of the accident to Admiral Seymour.
The hulk Alligator has been sent for the accommodation of the crew of the Raleigh. Her Majesty's ship Nankin is also off the place where the Raleigh is.
We 10 June 1857

(From our own correspondent.)

HONGKONG, April 25.

I had scarcely posted my last letter when a vague report of a serious casualty to Her Majesty's ship Raleigh, reached Hongkong. In the course of the day, but after the departure of the mail, the rumour became certainty and the circumstances ascertained. It is a sad affair, indeed, not only for the gallant Commodore (Keppel, of Chinese and Crimean renown), but also for the war. Until the court-martial sits and gives sentence it will be unfair to everybody to blame or acquit anybody, — all that I can say is, that Her Majesty’s ship Raleigh is lost to the service.
She was bowling along the dangerous coast in the vicinity of Macao on the 14th inst. when she struck upon a rock not laid down on any chart, but the same upon which Her Majesty's ship Clio struck long ago. Her port bow was nearly stove in by the shock, but the pumps were set going with a will, and in six hours more she was snug in the mud at the mouth of the Typa, the harbour of Macao. It is characteristic of the man that, immediately before "beaching" her, and with the water up to the lower decks, Captain Keppel saluted with 21 guns the Virginie ana Catinat, French men-of-war lying in the Macao roads. From them I need not say, as well as from the ships of the British squadron in these seas, he has received every assistance possible, vain as that will most likely prove to be. On the other hand, the Portuguese are in ecstasies at the calamity which has befallen the man who of yore violated the Macao territory to give liberty, in a somewhat irregular way, to an imprisoned British subject.
All her guns have been taken out of her and brought up to Hongkong. Everything has been done to lighten her short of pulling her to pieces. But there she lies embedded in 10 feet of mud at the least, with 20 feet, and more, of the same material inside of her, and a heavy beating sea jamming her faster and faster into the beach. She is perfectly immovable. There can be no doubt that she will be blown up. Yet, Captain Keppel, they say, thinks better of her chance, and even offers to bet pay and allowances that he will get her safe into Hongkong harbour. I regret to say that he is the only naval authority who entertains such an opinion.
Ma 29 June 1857

(From our own correspondent.)


…Tenders for raising Her Majesty’s ship Raleigh, it is advertised, will be received to the 16th inst. We fear the chances of success in raising the vessel are now small, as, besides the difficulty of the undertaking in ordinary times, the Chinese are afraid to come forward for such employment at present.
Captain Bate has surveyed the rock on which the Raleigh struck, and he states that it is not put down in either the English or French charts.
Tu 14 July 1857The Tee-totum Fort is now garrisoned by men from the Raleigh.
We understand the tenders for raising Her Majesty's ship Raleigh were very high — from $40,000 to $50,000.
It is likely she will be sold where she now lies, and Commodore Keppel will hoist his flag on board one of the vessels in the harbour, the Admiral being desirous at the present time to have the services of such an officer as Commodore Keppel.
Fr 24 July 1857A letter dated Hongkong, May 23, gives the following particulars relative to some of the gunboats sent out from England to join the squadron in the China Seas:— "The Plover gunboat arrived in the Roads this day; her dates are — arrived at Tenerife on the 21th of October, left there on the 28th; arrived at Rio do Janerio 6th December, left there on the 13th December; arrived at Simon’s Bay, Cape, January 17, 1857, left February 22; made Anger Point, Island of Java, April 16, left April 18; arrived at Singapore April 23, left there April 26. The Highflyer had four to five gunboats in company with her. The Cruiser lost two of her chicken (gunboats), as they are called, the Haughty and Forester, after leaving the Cape; she then returned to the Cape and joined company with the Plover. The Starling gunboat has already been engaged with the war junks and piratical junks. The English mail arrived to-day, and leaves for England on Monday afternoon next. All the gunboats are fitting for Canton river, where they are to proceed on Tuesday next. The Plover has been delayed, not having a gun-slide for her 8-inch gun, which is being made here. The 32-pounder guns are put right forward in the gunboats, and the 8-inch gun is to be placed between the main and mizenmast. The Starling and Bustard are already in the river, and the Staunch sailed today. They are waiting to be reinforced by all the gunboats. The Bittern brig is recommissioned by the officers of the Raleigh."
Sa 25 July 1857

HOUSE OF LORDS, Friday, July 24.

The Lord Chancellor took his seat on the woolsack at 5 o'clock.


Lord C. PAGET said he had intended to ask a question of the First Lord of the Admiralty respecting the rumoured recall of Commodore Keppel, but he had been informed within the last half hour that the Government did not intend to withdraw that officer from the Chinese seas. If the First Lord of the Admiralty would confirm that statement by any gesture he (Lord. C. Paget) would be content. As no response was made by the right hon. gentleman it must be assumed that it was not his intention to allow Commodore Keppel to remain at his post even if acquitted by a court-martial of all blame for the loss of the Raleigh. Believing that such a course would be not only a great injustice to one of the bravest and most meritorious officers in the navy (hear, hear), but a great injury to the public service, he thought it necessary to call the attention of the House to the facts of the matter. Hon. members who had served in the Crimea would bear testimony to the gallant conduct of Captain Keppel on the heights of Sebastopol and in command of a battery. He had been selected by the Admiralty to act in China, where the particular service required a man of energy. In pursuance of the orders of the Admiralty, Commodore Keppel being appointed second in command in the Chinese seas, he proceeded without loss of time to his destination, but when within sight of the enemy's coast his vessel unfortunately struck upon a sunken rook, which was not mentioned in any chart. No blame could attach to Commodore Keppel, and the commander-in-chief on the station, knowing the value of such an officer, had, he believed, represented to the Admiralty that, as no blame could rest upon Commodore Keppel, he hoped that officer would be allowed to remain with him as commander of another vessel. Since the catastrophe of the Raleigh, Commodore Keppel had been actually employed against the Chinese, and was still so engaged. The only possible reasons for his recall were, first, if Commodore Keppel should be found guilty of blame by the court-martial, in which improbable event no one would oppose his recall; or, secondly, that he was to be removed from China in consequence of an antiquated rule at the Admiralty that a commodore of the second class could not hoist his flag on board any vessel but his flagship; so that if an officer of that rank should have his vessel sunk in action, from that moment his command over the other vessels of the squadron ceased. It was inconsequence of that antiquated law of the Medes and Persians that this gallant officer was to be recalled, degraded, and dishonoured, without having in the slightest degree merited blame. (Hear, hear.) In a parallel case, which occurred in the sister service, it happened that the gallant member for Greenwich (Sir W. Codrington), while serving at Varna as a major in the Guards, was promoted by a brevet which appeared at that time. In consequence of that promotion he would, according to rule, have been removed from his regiment and placed upon half-pay, had it not been that the late lamented Lord Raglan, who knew the value of the gallant officer, acting without regard to regulations, retained him and appointed him to a command: and the much-abused Horse Guards confirmed that appointment. Upon the present occasion he would appeal to the First Lord of the Admiralty to break through the antiquated rule which, if acted upon, would deprive the country of the services of one of the most able and zealous officers in the navy. The noble lord concluded by asking the First Lord of the Admiralty whether there was any foundation for the report that Commodore Keppel had been recalled from his command in the China Sea.
Sir G. GREY said the present was an instance of the inconvenience arising from the practice of raising discussions upon multifarious subjects on the question of adjournment. (Hear.) His right hon. friend the First Lord of the Admiralty having once spoken upon this question, his lips were sealed. He (Sir G. Grey) would, however, endeavour to reply to the question of the noble lord. Every one acquainted with Commodore Keppel and the services in which he had been engaged would concur with the noble lord in the high character which he had given of that officer, and he was not entitled to assume that the Admiralty had any intention to disgrace or discredit him or any other gallant officer who did his duty to his country. (Hear, hear.) The whole conduct of the Admiralty showed that there was not the most distant desire on their part to disparage any gentleman employed in Her Majesty’s service. {Hear, hear.) It appeared that Commodore Keppel went out in command of the Raleigh frigate to the East, and had the misfortune to lose his ship. By the invariable rule of the service, and a very proper rule it was, every officer, whatever his previous character might have been, and however high his connexions and standing in the profession, was in such a case subjected to trial by court-martial before his brother officers, in order that the facts of the case might be investigated, and he should either be acquitted, if he deserved acquittal, or be found guilty and have sentence pasted upon him, should it appear that the loss of the ship was occasioned by his misconduct or neglect. (Hear, hear.) His noble friend sought to anticipate that inquiry. (Hear, hear.) By the last accounts from the East they were informed that the court-martial was about to sit, and he protested against the House of Commons being called on to express an opinion upon the case in such circumstances. Till the decision of that tribunal became known it would be altogether premature to come to any conclusion regarding the case; but, in the meantime, there was not the slightest ground for saying that any injustice was done by the Admiralty to Commodore Keppel. (Hear, hear.)
General CODRINGTON thought his noble friend (Lord C. Paget) was justified in defending in the way he had done an absent brother officer who was suffering from a temporary misfortune. (Hear, hear.) The gallant officer to whom he referred lost his ship by running against a rock not laid down in any chart; and though no blame could be imputed to him he was by an obsolete rule lost to the service on which he had been specially sent. (Hear, hear.) That was the point to which his noble friend had very properly adverted, and his doing so in no way implied interference with the court-martial. (Hear.) His question had reference only to the orders of the Admiralty which prevented an officer who might have lost his ship even in the presence of an enemy from being retained on the foreign service in which he was engaged, and made it necessary that he should be commissioned to some other ship by the Admiralty at home. (Hear, hear.) It was on that ground that his noble friend thought injustice might be done, not only to Commodore Keppel but to the Commander-in-Chief on the spot. He believed the Commander-in-Chief had made use of Commodore Keppel's services in boats, but he was precluded from employing him in the way he desired. He (General Codrington) could bear his testimony to the invaluable services of Commodore Keppel in the batteries before Sebastopol, where he commanded the naval brigade. (Hear, hear.) His coolness, his daring, and his assiduity excited universal admiration, and he trusted that the Admiralty would enable the Commander-in-chief to retain his services now in that part of the world where they were so much wanted. (Hear, hear.)
Admiral WALCOTT concurred in the sentiments so well expressed by the Home Secretary on this subject. (Hear.) It was the invariable role of the service to subject an officer in Commodore Keppel's circumstances to trial by court-martial, and till he was acquitted it was impossible that he could be employed as his noble friend proposed. (Hear, hear.) He agreed with the noble lord in every word that had fallen from him with reference to the high qualities of Commodore Keppel; but he was proud to say that there were many officers of the highest merit on the station who would not disappoint the expectations of the country in the absence of Commodore Keppel. He should at the same time be very glad to hear that he was acquitted by a court-martial, and that the Commander-in-Chief was enabled to retain his services on the station. (Hear.) When on his feet he wished to correct a misstatement he had made to the House the other evening, when he said that the Medusa frigate had made au unprecedented voyage to the East Indies in 84 days. He now found that four ships belonging to Mr. Green had made the passage in 77 days, and he was happy to find that naval architecture had so much improved as to make such passages possible. (Hear, hear.)
Sir J. ELPHINSTONE had no doubt that, inconsequence of the report of a surveyor appointed by Sir J. Bowring to examine the position of the rock on which the Raleigh was wrecked Commodore Keppel would be acquitted, for he had reported that it was impossible the rock could have been seen or known by any person on board. (Hear, hear.)
We 29 July 1857


"Commodore Keppel and the Master of the Raleigh have been tried for the loss of that vessel and acquitted."
Sa 1 August 1857

(From our own correspondent.)

June 9.

When the Admiral [Seymour] had returned to his anchorage a naval court-martial was held on board the Sybille upon Commodore Keppel and his crew for the loss of the Raleigh. The report of the officer sent to survey the spot rendered this trial almost a matter of form. It was chiefly remarkable for a speech from the Commodore, who appeared with his breast quite covered with orders and medals, and never alluded in any way to himself during the whole of his defence. The fact is that no great loss has been sustained in the Raleigh. For modem naval warfare, and especially in these seas, your old 50-gun sailing ships are useless. They are pleasant as marine residences, but for fighting you might as well arm your men with bows and arrows. The Commodore received back his sword, and is left in command up the river.
Ma 17 August 1857

(From our own correspondent.)

HONGKONG, June 12 to 23.

The Encounter and the Saracen are gone to Siam, the former to take the Siamese Embassy to Suez, and thence to proceed home. The wreck of the Raleigh is advertised to be sold by auction on the 29th inst.
Tu 1 September 1857

(From our own correspondent.)


Round a point about four miles away lies the Raleigh, sunk now to her upper deck. The Nankin has succeeded in getting the masts out of her. In her yellow paint and her dismasted state she looks like one of the hulls at Sheerness. They have offered her for sale, but the sum bid for her ($5,200) was not worth the risk of keeping a ship of war upon an unsafe station at the typhoon season, and this precaution would be necessary to protect the purchaser. The present idea is to blow her up.

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