HMS Lizard (1757)

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Carysfort cropped.jpg
Lizard was built to the same design as HMS Carysfort, (pictured)
Royal Navy EnsignGreat Britain
Name: HMS Lizard
Ordered: 13 April 1756
Builder: Henry Bird, Globe Stairs, Rotherhithe
Laid down: 5 May 1756
Launched: 7 April 1757
Completed: 1 June 1757 at Deptford Dockyard
Commissioned: March 1757
  • Hulked as a hospital ship, 1800
  • Sold, 1828
General characteristics
Class and type: 28-gun Coventry-class sixth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 5948794 (bm)
  • 118 ft 8 12 in (36.2 m) (gundeck)
  • 97 ft 2 34 in (29.6 m) (keel)
Beam: 33 ft 11 in (10.3 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 200
  • 28 guns comprising:
  • Upperdeck: 24 × 9-pounder guns
  • Quarterdeck: 4 × 3-pounder guns
  • 12 × ½-pdr swivel guns

HMS Lizard was a 28-gun Coventry-class sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy.


Lizard was an oak-built 28-gun sixth-rate, one of 18 vessels forming part of the Coventry class of frigates. As with others in her class she was loosely modeled on the design and external dimensions of HMS Tartar, launched in 1756 and responsible for capturing five French privateers in her first twelve months at sea.[1] The Admiralty Order to build the Coventry-class vessels was made after the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, and at a time in which the Royal Dockyards were fully engaged in constructing or fitting-out the Navy's ships of the line. Consequently, despite Navy Board misgivings about reliability and cost, contracts for all but one of Coventry-class vessels were issued to private shipyards with an emphasis on rapid completion of the task.[2]

Contracts for Lizard's construction were issued on 13 April 1756 to shipwright Henry Bird of Globe Stairs Rotherhithe. It was stipulated that work should be completed within twelve months for a 28-gun vessel measuring approximately 590 tons burthen. Subject to satisfactory completion, Bird would receive a fee of £9.9s per ton to be paid through periodic imprests drawn against the Navy Board.[3][4][a] Private shipyards were not subject to rigorous naval oversight, and the Admiralty therefore granted authority for "such alterations withinboard as shall be judged necessary" in order to cater for the preferences or ability of individual shipwrights, and for experimentation with internal design.[1][2]

Lizard's keel was laid down on 5 May 1756, and work proceeded swiftly with the fully built vessel ready for launch by April 1757. In final construction her hull was slightly larger than contracted, at 594 8794 tons. As built, Lizard was 118 ft 8 in (36.2 m) long with a 97 ft 3 in (29.6 m) keel, a beam of 33 ft 11 in (10.34 m), and a hold depth of 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m).[1] Her armament comprised 24 nine-pounder cannons located along her gun deck, supported by four three-pounder cannons on the quarterdeck and twelve 12-pounder swivel guns ranged along her sides.[1] Her designated complement was 200, comprising two commissioned officers – a captain and a lieutenant – overseeing 40 warrant and petty officers, 91 naval ratings, 38 Marines and 29 servants and other ranks.[6][b] Among these other ranks were four positions reserved for widow's men – fictitious crew members whose pay was intended to be reallocated to the families of sailors who died at sea.[6]

The vessel was named after the Lizard, a peninsula in southern Cornwall that was a maritime landmark for vessels passing along the English Channel. In selecting her name the Board of Admiralty continued a tradition dating to 1644 of using geographic features for ship names; overall, ten of the nineteen Coventry-class vessels were named after well-known regions, rivers or towns.[7][8] With few exceptions the remainder of the class were named after figures from classical antiquity, following a more modern trend initiated in 1748 by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich in his capacity as First Lord of the Admiralty.[7][8][c]

In sailing qualities Lizard was broadly comparable with French frigates of equivalent size, but with a shorter and sturdier hull and greater weight in her broadside guns. She was also comparatively broad-beamed with ample space for provisions and the ship's mess, and incorporating a large magazine for powder and round shot.[d] Taken together, these characteristics would enable Lizard to remain at sea for long periods without resupply.[10][11] She was also built with broad and heavy masts, which balanced the weight of her hull, improved stability in rough weather and made her capable of carrying a greater quantity of sail. The disadvantages of this comparatively heavy design were a decline in manoeuvrability and slower speed when sailing in light winds.[12]

Naval service

On 24 January 1782 she captured the French 16-gun cutter Espion.

The ship served in North America and the West Indies[13]


  1. ^ Bird's £9.9s fee per ton compared unfavourably with an average £9.0s per ton sought by Thames River shipwrights to build 24-gun Royal Navy vessels over the previous decade,[4] but was exactly equal to the average for all Coventry-class vessels built in private shipyards between 1756 and 1765.[5]
  2. ^ The 29 servants and other ranks provided for in the ship's complement consisted of 20 personal servants and clerical staff, four assistant carpenters an assistant sailmaker and four widow's men. Unlike naval ratings, servants and other ranks took no part in the sailing or handling of the ship.[6]
  3. ^ The exceptions to these naming conventions were Hussar, Active and the final vessel in the class, Hind[7][9]
  4. ^ Lizard's dimensional ratios 3.57:1 in length to breadth, and 3.3:1 in breadth to depth, compare with standard French equivalents of up to 3.8:1 and 3:1 respectively. Royal Navy vessels of equivalent size and design to Lizard were capable of carrying up to 20 tons of powder and shot, compared with a standard French capacity of around 10 tons. They also carried greater stores of rigging, spars, sails and cables, but had fewer ship's boats and less space for the possessions of the crew.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Winfield 2007, p. 227
  2. ^ a b Rosier, Barrington (2010). "The Construction Costs of Eighteenth-Century Warships". The Mariner's Mirror. 92 (2): 164. doi:10.1080/00253359.2010.10657134. 
  3. ^ Winfield 2007, pp. 229–230
  4. ^ a b Baugh 1965, pp.255–256
  5. ^ Winfield 2007, pp. 227–231
  6. ^ a b c Rodger 1986, pp.348–351
  7. ^ a b c Winfield 2007, pp. 227–231
  8. ^ a b Manning, T. Davys (1957). "Ship Names". The Mariner's Mirror. Portsmouth, United Kingdom: Society for Nautical Research. 43 (2): 93–96. doi:10.1080/00253359.1957.10658334. 
  9. ^ Winfield 2007, p. 240
  10. ^ a b Gardiner 1992, pp. 115–116
  11. ^ Gardiner 1992, pp. 107–108
  12. ^ Gardiner 1992, pp. 111–112
  13. ^


  • Baugh, Daniel A. (1965). British Naval Administration in the Age of Walpole. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691624297. 
  • Rodger, N. A. M. (1986). The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219871. 
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 9781844157006. 
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