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HMS Guachapin was a brig, the former Spanish letter of marque Guachapin, which the British captured in 1800 and took into service with the Royal Navy in 1801. Under the British flag she captured a Spanish privateer larger and better-armed than herself. She also served at the captures of the islands of St. Bartholomew, St. Martin, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Tobago, and St. Lucia, and of Surinam. She served at Antigua as a guard ship but was wrecked in 1811. She was then salved and sold.

Flag of Spain (1785–1873, 1875–1931).svgSpain
Name: Guachapin
Captured: 9 April 1800
Royal Navy EnsignUK
Name: HMS Guachapin
Acquired: Early 1801 (by capture)
Commissioned: February 1801
Fate: Wrecked 1811; salvaged and sold
General characteristics [1]
Type: Spanish merchant brig
Tons burthen: 176 tons (bm)
  • 80 ft 5 in (24.51 m) (overall)
  • c.63 ft 4 in (19.30 m) (keel)
Beam: 23 ft 1 in (7.04 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Brig
  • Spanish service:10 guns
  • British service: 12 x 12-pounder carronades + 2 x 6-pounder guns


Captain Charles Penrose of the third rate Sans Pareil captured Guachapin in the Leeward Islands.[2] The London Gazette reports that on 9 April 1800, Sans Pareil captured the Spanish letter of marque trader Guakerpin, of 165 tons burthen (bm), ten guns and 38 men. She belonged to Saint Andero, and was sailing from there to Vera Cruz with a cargo of iron, porter, and linens.[3][Note 1] The British took her into service and commissioned her in February 1801 under Commander Samuel Butcher.[1]

British warshipEdit

Between 15 March and 7 April 1801, an expedition under Lieutenant-General Thomas Trigge and Admiral Duckworth captured the islands of St. Bartholomew, St. Martin, St. Thomas, and St. Croix. Guachupin [sic] was listed among the vessels participating in the expedition and entitled to a share in the "proceeds of sundry articles of provisions, merchandise, stores, and property afloat" that had been captured.[5]

Guachapin's greatest moment of glory came later that year on 18 August 1801. On that day Heureux was between Martinique and St. Lucia when she saw the Guachapin in an unequal fight against a Spanish letter of marque armed with 18 brass guns - 32 and 12-pounders. Heureux sailed up as fast as she could but even before she arrived the Spaniard had struck to Guachapin. The two-hour engagement had cost Guachapin three men killed and three wounded, and the Spaniard nearly the same. The Spaniard was the Theresa, under the command of an officer of the Spanish Navy, and had a crew of 120 men.[6]

In April 1802 Commander Kenneth Mackenzie (or M'Kenzie) took command.[1]

In 1803, after the recommencement of hostilities with France, Guachapin participated in the captures of Tobago and St. Lucia.[7]

In September 1803, Guachupin [sic] captured three prizes. On 2 September she was in company with Saint Lucia when they captured two vessels whose names they did not record:

  • A sloop carrying a cargo of coffee, sugar, and the like
  • A schooner in ballast.[8]

Then on 24 September Guachapin captured the Spanish ship Industria, which was carrying 220 slaves (French property).[8]

On 25 January 1804, Saint Lucia captured the French privateers Furet and Bijou.[9] Bijou, had captured two prizes, one of which was the brig Good Intent, which had been sailing from Barbados to Demarara, and which Guachapin had already retaken.[9]

A few months later, Guachapin assisted Commodore Sir Samuel Hood's squadron at the capture of Surinam River in 1804. The squadron consisted of Hood's flagship, the 74-gun third rate Centaur, Pandour, Serapis, Alligator, Hippomenes, Drake, the 10-gun schooner Unique, and transports carrying 2000 troops under Brigadier-General Sir Charles Green.[10] On 24 April, Hippomenes, under Commander Conway Shipley, escorted a convoy carrying a division of the army under Brigadier-General Frederick Maitland to land at Warappa creek to collect enough boats from the plantations to transport troops to the rear of Fort New Amsterdam.[11] On 30 April, Mackenzie, unable to sail closer, left Guachapin 50 leagues to leeward and brought up all her boats, together with 50 crewmen.[10] He then assisted Shipley in superintending the landing of Maitland's troops at Warappa. The Dutch governor initially rejected the surrender terms but surrendered on 5 May after the British captured the battery of Friderici. The officers and men from Guachapin who had served ashore during the capture of Suriname were among those that shared in the prize money from the campaign.[12]

In June 1804 Commander Robert Henderson replaced Mackenzie, who had transferred to take command of the newly-captured Surinam in May, and then Hippomenes in June. Then on 13 September 1806, Guachapin became a guardship at St. Johns, Antigua. In 1807 she was under Acting Lieutenant Uriah Goodwin.[1] In 1810, William Fletcher was promoted to lieutenant to command her.[13]


At some point Lieutenant Michael Jenkins took command. On 29 July 1811, a hurricane drove Guachapin on shore at Rat Island, Antigua, where she was bilged. Jenkins and his crew were all saved, as were most of the stores.[14]

Later the British recovered the brig. Rather than recommission her they sold her in Jamaica.

Notes, citations, and referencesEdit


  1. ^ The term "Guachapin", "Guachupin", or "Gachupin" is a Mexican term for a person of Spanish birth. During the colonial period the term was used to refer to royal officials and to immigrants. The term is still used today and often has a derogatory connotation.[4] Marshall described Guachupin's figurehead as being one of well-dressed young man, holding a letter in one hand and an empty purse in the other. Her captain stated that this represented a needy Spaniard petitioning the Viceroy for money.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Winfield (2008), p. 337.
  2. ^ a b Marshall (1828), Supplement 2, pp.461-2.
  3. ^ "No. 15295". The London Gazette. 20 September 1800. p. 1084.
  4. ^ Martin et al., (1968), p.143.
  5. ^ "No. 15675". The London Gazette. 14 February 1804. p. 214.
  6. ^ "No. 15420". The London Gazette. 20 October 1801. p. 1283.
  7. ^ Marshall (1825), Vol. 2, Part 2, p.899.
  8. ^ a b "No. 15669". The London Gazette. 24 January 1804. p. 110.
  9. ^ a b "No. 15697". The London Gazette. 28 April 1804. pp. 537–538.
  10. ^ a b "No. 15712". The London Gazette. 19 June 1804. pp. 761–762.
  11. ^ Edwards & 1818-19, pp. 131-5.
  12. ^ "No. 16199". The London Gazette. 8 November 1808. p. 1524.
  13. ^ Brown & Campbell (1888), p. 188.
  14. ^ Hepper (1994), p. 137.


  • Brown, George Stayley, and John Roy Campbell (1888) Yarmouth, Nova Scotia: a sequel to Campbell's history (Rand Avery Co.).
  • Edwards, Bryan (1818–19) The history, civil and commercial, of the British West Indies. (London, G. and W.B. Whittaker).
  • Hepper, David J. (1994) British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859 (Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot). ISBN 0-948864-30-3
  • Marshall, John ( 1823-1835) Royal naval biography, or, Memoirs of the services of all the flag-officers, superannuated rear-admirals, retired-captains, post-captains, and commanders, whose names appeared on the Admiralty list of sea officers at the commencement of the present year 1823, or who have since been promoted ... (London : Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown).
  • Martin, Michael Rheta, Gabriel H. Lovett, and L. Robert Hughes (1968) Encyclopedia of Latin-American history. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.