Lucien Alexander papers  1901-1913
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HMS Levant (1757-1780)

The HMS Levant was a sixth rate, 28-gun frigate of the Coventry class. The Levant was designed by Thomas Slade and built by shipwright Henry Adams, per the Admiralty's orders of May 6, 1757. Construction began at Buckler's Hard the following June and the ship's cost reached £5,423.9.0. The Levant launched on July 6, 1758, and was fitted at Portsmouth Dockyard between July 17, 1758, and June 16, 1759, at an additional cost of £4,906.39.

The measurements of the Levant were as follows: 118 feet, 5 inches in length (lower deck); 97 feet, 3 5/8 inches (keel); 33 feet, 11 inches (breadth); and 10 feet, 6 inches (hold depth). The vessel's cargo capacity measured 595 34/94 tons (burthen). The Levant was designed to carry 200 crewmen.

The Levant 's upper deck was armed with 24 British 9-pounder guns, half of which were 1/2-pound swivels. On its quarterdeck, the Levant bore four British 3-pounder guns. The Levant was the first of its class to have its spare broadside gun-port moved forward to a more advantageous chase position. Previously, these were positioned inside the ships' headrails (Gardiner 2002, 76).

On July 23, 1759, the Levant sailed for the Leeward Islands under the command of Captain William Tucker. Between 1759 and 1762, the ship took seven French privateers as prizes, including Le St. Pierre (April 19, 1760), Le Scipio (June 29, 1760), L'Union (December 18, 1760), La Catherine (February 15, 1761), La Dulcinée (July 13, 1761), L'Adventurier , and Le Fier (May 13, 1762).

Captain John Laforey sailed the Levant to the Leeward Islands in 1762, as part of Admiral George Brydges Rodney's squadron. In August 1766, the ship was recommissioned under Captain Basil Keith, and sailed for Jamaica. On January 13, 1772, the ship sailed for the Mediterranean under Captain Samuel Thompson.

Captain George Murray received command of the Levant in 1774 and, on June 22, 1775, the ship sailed from Portsmouth to the Mediterranean for blockade duty. According to the Biographical Memoir of Sir E. [Erasmus] Gower, etc. , who served as the ship's First Lieutenant from 1775-1779, "[t]he Levant was, after the commencement of the American war, extremely successful, having captured so considerable a number of prizes, that few vessels, perhaps, have ever quitted a station with more éclat respecting herself, and more regret from the officers and other persons concerned, who derived advantage from her good fortune and the activity of her people" (Gower, 1800, 8). The Levant captured the American Argo (November 18, 1776), the 14-gun US General Montgomery , and the French privateer La Revanche (July 17, 1779).

The HMS Levant was ordered to be broken up on August 16, 1780.

George Murray (1741-1797)

George Murray commanded the HMS Levant from 1774 until October 1779. He was born on August 22, 1741, in Tullibardine, Perthshire, Scotland. Murray was the fifth of seven children of Lord George and Amelia Murray. He attended the school of Dr. William Rose in Kew from 1755 until 1756, and then the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth until 1758. That year, he began his career as a midshipman on the Newark , a ship of the line.

Prior to his post as commander of the Levant , Murray served on multiple ships, including the Falmouth in India (1759). He returned to England on the Terpsichore in 1762. After passing his lieutenant's examination, he received an appointment on the sloop Swift (1762). He also served on the frigate Tartar (1763). While serving in Jamaica in 1765, Murray was promoted captain of the sloop Ferret . Around this time, Murray traveled to British West Florida where he collected Native American artifacts and specimens of flora and fauna for his elder brother John Murray, one of the "planting dukes" of Atholl.

George Murray continued his service aboard the frigates Renown and Adventure (1768). He later served as captain of the Levant from 1774-1779. In 1780, he was appointed to the frigate Cleopatra , which saw action in the Battle of Dogger Bank on August 5, 1781. George Murray commanded the ship-of-the-line Irresistible (beginning in December 1782), the Defense (during the Nootka crisis with Spain), the Vengence , the Medway (beginning in 1792), the Duke (in the West Indies, 1793), and the Glory . Murray became commander-in-chief of the North American Squadron in 1794 and served aboard the flagship Resolution . He obtained a promotion to Vice Admiral in 1795.

George Murray married Wilhelmina King on May 13, 1784. The two had no children. In May 1796, Murray suffered a stroke. He died on October 17, 1797. He was buried at Ockham in Surrey.

HMS Arethusa (1757-1779)

Built in 1757 at La Havre, and designed by Jean-Joseph Ginoux, the HMS Arethusa was a fifth rate frigate of the Royal Navy. Previously known as the French privateer Pelerine , it was sold on the stocks by the French navy and renamed L'Aréthuse in 1758. On May 19, 1759, it was captured by British vessels Chatham , Venus , and Thames , and repurposed for the Royal Navy. The Arethusa possessed 32 British guns: 26 12-pounders on the upper gun deck, four 6-pounders on the quarter deck, and two 6-pounders on the forecastle.

The measurements of the Arethusa were as follows: 132 feet, 2 inches (lower deck); 110 feet, 10 3/8 inches (keel); 34 feet 5 1/2 inches (breadth); and 10 feet 8 inches (hold depth). Its carrying capacity was 700 31/94 tons (burthen). The ship was designed to support a crew of 220.

According to the ship's original survey, she "laboured exceedingly in bad weather" (Gardiner 2002 115). The ship lost multiple masts as a result of storms and strong winds. "One captain believed this was encouraged by the lack of support from the characteristically French shallow hull and an extreme tumblehome that did not allow sufficient spread to the shrouds" (Gardiner 2002, 91).

Captain Raby Vane commanded the Arethusa from 1759-1763. During this time, the ship captured several privateers, including Le Revanche of Dunkirk (July 25, 1760), L'Elisabeth (February 14, 1761), Le Quimper of Boyonne (May 6, 1761), Perfecta of San Sebastian (October 5, 1762) and L'Amitie of Bayonne (October 8, 1762).

In January 1771, the Arethusa was commissioned under Captain Andrew Snape Hamond and, on October 24, 1771, the ship sailed to North America. In June 1775, the ship was recommissioned under Captain Digby Dent for service in the English Channel.

Samuel Marshall commanded the HMS Arethusa from 1777 until 1779. He was stationed in the Irish Sea in 1777. In 1778, he served with Rear Admiral Augustus Keppel's Channel Fleet, whose orders were to blockade Brest, a city on the western tip of France's Breton peninsula. On June 17, 1778, the Arethusa participated in action against the 36-gun La Belle Poule near the island of Ushant. Although the Arethusa was a fast vessel, La Belle Poule managed to flee and return to Brest with forty dead and sixty-one wounded.

On July 27, 1778, the Arethusa was involved in the Battle of Ushant, an inconclusive action between British and French fleets under Keppel and Comte d'Orvilliers, respectively. After 1779, the Arethusa was commissioned under Captain Charles Everitt. On March 19, 1779, the Arethusa was wrecked on Moline Island near Ushant following an engagement with L'Aigrette , a 32-gun frigate.

William Browell

William Browell's name appears on the flyleaf of the volume; he appears to have been the log-keeper of both ships. A captain by the same name lived from 1759-1831 and commanded the Sans Pareil from 1795-1798. This William Browell may or may not be the same man represented in the Levant and the Arethusa log book.