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A Brief History of the 2nd HMS Illustrious

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2nd HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (1803 – 1868)


Laid down in January 1800 in Randell and Brent’s yard at Rotherhithe

Launched on 3 September 1803




Length – 175 ft

Beam – 48 ft

Draught – 18 ft

Tonnage – 1746

Guns – 74


Commanding Officers:


1803 Capt. William SHIELD Royal Navy

1804 Capt. Sir C HAMILT0N Royal Navy

1808 Capt. William Robert BROUGHTON Royal Navy

1809 A/Capt. Edward CHETHAM Royal Navy

1809 Capt. William Robert BROUGHTON Royal Navy

1811 A/Capt. Robert Worgan FESTING Royal Navy

1813 Capt. A SKENE Royal Navy 

1814  - 1841 Post disestablished (Ship out of commission at Portsmouth)

1841 N.A.W.I. Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir Charles ADAM

1844 Capt. John ERSKINE


Battle Honours:



JAVA 1811




On 28 March 1804, ILLUSTRIOUS, IMPERIEUSE, SQUIRREL and a number of sloops, bombs and gunbrigs sailed from Deal to cruise off Boulogne.  She sailed again on 2 April with IMMORTALITE, SQUIRREL, SEINE and an a number of small vessels to escort block ships filled with stone which a Mr Mumford proposed to sink at the entrance to Boulogne.  ILLUSTRIOUS returned to the Downs the following day.

0n 10 September 1804, she recaptured the MARY of Greenock, which was trying to make a port in Spain after being captured by the French privateer UNCLE TOM during her outward-bound passage to the West Indies.

0n 9 January 1805, the Spanish ship SANTA MARIA from the Havana, detained by ILLUSTRIOUS and AJAX, arrived in Plymouth.  She was a letter of marque with a valuable cargo consisting of 10,000 dollars, several hundred ounces of gold in dust and ingots, 140 bales of cotton, 150 bales of wool, hides, hogsheads of beef, cocoa and sheets of copper.  On the evening of the 12 January 1805, the SANTA MARIA moved from between the Island and the mainland to go up the Catwater for safety above the Turnchapel Rock.  She cleared the Gut of Mount Batten and was endeavouring to wear ship near Queen Anne's Battery at Teat's Hill, but the wind flattening and being a large ship, she missed stays and sailed ashore on the reef of rocks near the Victualling Office at Point Pier Head.  She lay there through the night but got off on the morning tide without much damage.

In April 1805 ILLUSTRIOUS was with Vice Admiral COLLINGW00D's squadron of six 74's off the coast of Spain and in July 1805 with a squadron under Rear Admiral COCHRANE.  On 7 July 1805, she and RAMILLIES captured the French privateer schooner JOSEFINE of 2 guns and 35 men, on a cruise from St. Pierre.  In the autumn she escorted home a large convoy from the Leeward Is.  Many of the ships were separated in a gale.


1806 blockade of Cadiz. 


On 1 January 1807 to the Mediterranean. 


In 1809, she was present in the attack on the French fleet in the Basque Roads on 11/12 April, but does not appear to have taken an active part. 


ILLUSTRIOUS accompanied the expedition to the Scheldt where A/Capt. CHETHAM RN was employed landing troops and artillery until Capt. BROUGHTON RN resumed command on 9 August 1809.


1811 Cape of Good Hope - East Indies.  Capt. BROUGHTON, was now flying the broad pendant of a Commodore as the senior officer off Java, with Robert Worgan FESTING (from DASHER) as acting captain of ILLUSTRIOUS.

On the afternoon of 4 August 1811, ILLUSTRIOUS anchored off the village of Chillingchill in five fathoms of water.  The army was landed before dark and three days later crossed the Antziol river on a bridge of flat boats prepared by Capt. SAYER of LEDA and Cdrs MAUNSELL and REYNOLDS. 


On 8 August 1811, the city of Batavia agreed to surrender.  The Dutch European troops were in the strongly fortified camp of Meester Cornelis, about 5 miles from the city, where they had 34 heavy guns (18, 24 and 32-pounders).  500 seamen from the British ships under the direction of Capts SAYER, FESTING, MAUNSELL, REYNOLDS and STOPFORD, manning batteries of twenty 18-pounders for three successive days in extreme heat, succeeded in silencing them by the evening of the 25 August 1811.  The troops and marines captured the fort the next day following an assault.  ILLUSTRIOUS lost one seaman killed, three marines wounded and one seaman missing in the operations ashore.

She sailed from Batavia on 4 September 1811 with LION, MINDEN and LEDA to rendezvous with the transports off Gressi for an attack on Gressi and SOURABAYA. The warships carried the 14th regiment of foot and part of the 78th regiment with artillery and field pieces.

On 10 September 1811 Commodore BROUGHTON joined Rear Admiral STOPFORD off Samarang.

At the beginning of 1814 the Admiralty revived an old practice of forming juries of warrant and petty officers to sit on inquests into accidental deaths.  The first sat on the body of a seaman who fell from the main-yard of ILLUSTRIOUS at Spithead.


After service in the East Indies, west Indies and North America, she came home for the last time and from the spring of 1814 she was out of commission at Portsmouth to become a training ship.  In 1858, BRITANNIA relieved her.  Her last years before being broken up in 1868 were spent carrying out gunnery instruction and duties as a guard ship. 


Her figurehead can be seen today in the VICTORY Museum.

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