English ship Rainbow (1586)

Rainbow[Note 1] was a galleon of the English Tudor navy, built at Deptford Dockyard by Peter Pett (the first of that name in this extensive family), and launched in 1586. Commanded by Lord Henry Seymour, a younger son of Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset by his second wife Anne Stanhope, she fought against the Spanish during the Singeing the King of Spain's Beard and the Spanish Armada, including the Battle of Gravelines in 1588.

Aert Anthonisz. The battle of Cadix 1608.jpg
The flagship of Admiral Medina Sidonia (aka Cadiz) the San Martin is attacked off the coast of Dover from port side by the English Rainbow and from starboard by the Dutch Gouden Leeuw, Dover, August 8, 1588
English FlagEngland
FateSunk as a breakwater, 1680
General characteristics as built
Class and typeGalleon
Tons burthen480
Length100 ft (30 m) (keel)
Beam32 ft (9.8 m)
Depth of hold12 ft (3.7 m)
  • 26 guns, comprising (1603)
  • 6 demi-cannon, 12 culverins,
  • 7 demi-culverins and 1 saker.
General characteristics after 1617 rebuild[1]
Class and type40-gun great ship
Tons burthen731
Length112 ft (34 m) (keel)
Beam36 ft 3 in (11.05 m)
Depth of hold13 ft 6 in (4.11 m)
Sail planFull-rigged ship
Armament40 guns of various weights of shot

In 1617 Rainbow was rebuilt at Deptford as a great ship (now described as a "second rate"), mounting 34 major and 6 smaller guns.[1] She was again reconstructed in 1628–29 at Chatham, although the work was classed as a "repair" rather than as an official rebuilding. By 1660 her armament had increased to 56 guns.[1]

She took an active role in all three Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century, participating in most of the battles of those wars, and was sunk as a breakwater at Sheerness in 1680.[1]


  1. ^ The 'HMS' prefix was not used until the middle of the 18th century, but is sometimes applied retrospectively



  1. ^ a b c d Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p158.


  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
  • Winfield, Rif (2009) British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1603-1714: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-040-6.