VII. The Venus: Introductory note

Pages 389-390

The Barrington Papers, Vol. 77. Originally published by Navy Record Society, London, 1937.

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VII. The Venus


In September 1767 H.R.H. The Duke of York and Albany, the King's younger brother, died at Monaco. His body was brought home in H.M.S. Montreal (Captain Phillips Cosby), transferred to the yacht Mary, and landed at Greenwich on November 2nd. He was given a naval funeral, eight Admirals—Sir Edward Hawke, the Duke of Bolton, Sir Charles Saunders, Francis Geary, Thomas Frankland, Sir Charles Hardy, Sir Samuel Cornish and Sir George Bridges Rodney—supporting the canopy as the body was laid to rest in King Henry the Seventh's Chapel at Westminster. His death severed the connection of the Royal Family with the Royal Navy, and shortly afterwards it was decided that the King's youngest brother, H.R.H. The Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, should enter the Navy. Captain Barrington was selected as his 'tutor.'

On June 24th, 1768, Captain Barrington was appointed to command H.M.S. Venus and next day he went down with the Duke of Cumberland to Woolwich where the ship was in dock. On July 16th the Venus was hauled out of dock; she sailed for Spithead, where she arrived on August 5th, and on the 8th the Duke of Cumberland came on board. The Venus then sailed for the Mediterranean. On August 23rd the Venus arrived at Gibraltar; Barrington landed in attendance on His Royal Highness, ' who was received at his landing by a discharge of the guns at the Grand Battery and those along the Line Wall to the Ragged Staff, to the number of one hundred and twelve.' The Venus sailed again on the 26th and anchored in Mahon harbour on September 1st. Ceremonial visits followed, and on the 3rd the Venus sailed again: 'As we passed St. Philip's Castle, the Regiments were drawn up on the Glassie and the Castle saluted with 21 guns.' Returning to Gibraltar, His Royal Highness was received by Commodore Spry. On September 19th the Venus sailed from Gibraltar and reached Spithead on October 6th. The Duke of Cumberland, with his suite, then landed; and Barrington himself was given Admiralty leave.

On November 3rd Captain Barrington was superseded in command of the Venus by His Royal Highness, who had been promoted to the rank of Captain. The Duke commanded the ship till March 10th, 1769, on which day Captain Barrington resumed command. During the intervening period the Venus had remained at Spithead. On May 12th she went into Portsmouth harbour for refit and on May 24th returned to Spithead in readiness for sea.

On June 15th H.R.H. The Duke of Cumberland, Rear-Admiral of the Red, hoisted his flag on board the Venus and assumed command of a squadron consisting of the Venus, Tweed, Seaford, Glory and Lively, with the Fly and Wolf sloops. He weighed from Spithead the same day. The squadron performed tactical exercises in the Channel till July 12th, when the ships anchored in Plymouth Sound. Ceremonial visits were there exchanged with Lord Edgcumbe, and the dockyard and naval establishments were visited. The squadron sailed again on July 15th, and resumed tactical exercises. The Duke of Cumberland practised (fn. 1) one innovation: On the 25th ' the Squadron was employed forming Lines of Battle and different Manoeuvres, the better to observe which I went on board the Hind, which ship kept always to windward to repeat the Signals.' On July 27th the squadron anchored at Spithead, and the Duke struck his flag next day. The Venus remained at Spithead till October 7th, when she went into Portsmouth harbour. The Duke visited the ship on the 9th, and for two days on October 16th and 17th; he decided, however, to give up the sea and on June 19th, 1770, the Venus was paid off.


  • 1. Journal of H.R.H. The Duke of Cumberland (P.R.O., Ad. 50/4).