|H.M.S. Maidstone (1758), 28 gun Sixth Rate Ship|
|The Battle of Quiberon Bay by Nicholas Pocock (1812)|
Maidstone returned to Portsmouth in March, 1763 and paid off her crew. Her next voyage would have a very different character, no longer a ship at war but an extension of royal authority providing seaborne enforcement of customs regulations in the North American colonies. Her commander for this commission was Captain Charles Antrobus (1726-1769). Not much is known about his origins, though he evidently had a brother in Ireland who helped settle his ship's accounts in 1766. Captain Antrobus made the post-captain's list on February 17, 1758. His first ship at this rank had been H.M.S. Surprise in 1759 (an older sixth rate launched in 1746), followed by the 5th-rate H.M.S. Southampton (launched in 1757) which he commanded from 1760-1763. He was given H.M.S. Maidstone as his next ship.
2nd Lieutenant Jenkins was William Jenkins, who according to the Navy List was commissioned lieutenant on August 6th, 1762. Lieutenant Jenkins would play a significant part in the events that lead to rioting in Newport over customs seizures and naval impressment in 1765 but vanishes from the known record thereafter. I have a theory about what happened to him that I'll discuss in a subsequent post.
|Ship model, Admiralty Dockyard model, HMS "Maidstone", |
wood / ivory, made by Stephen Bingle,
Royal Naval Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, England, c. 1756
H.M.S. Maidstone would be joining The North American squadron under Rear Admiral of the White Alexander Lord Colville, a Scottish peer who was charged with patrolling the American coast between Nova Scotia and Florida with his headquarters at the naval base in Halifax. All of the 21 ships in Colville's squadron were dispatched from various ports in England in the summer of 1763, replacing those previously on station. Their primary task was to enforce trade and navigation laws, but also to discourage the French from any ideas of regaining a hold in Canadian waters.
Captain Antrobus sailed from Spithead with H.M.S. Maidstone on July 3, 1763. It must have been a rough crossing, for another ship brought news to Halifax on September 30th that "the Maidstone, Captain Antrobus has sprung her formast and has put in to Louisberg [Nova Scotia]." Still, the ship was in much better shape than her sister Frigate H.M.S. Mermaid, which was completed dismasted during her voyage from England and lost her bowsprit as well. Both Maidstone and Mermaid also required a replacement ships boat while under repair in Nova Scotia, which the Admiral ordered from Boston in February, 1764.
There are few indications of Maidstone's activity before she arrived and took up station in Newport, Rhode Island in December, 1764. A Boston diarist noted her arrival at Nantasket Roads on September 23, 1764, but that is about all that can be determined without examining the Admiralty records. She left a much more extensive record of her activities in Rhode Island. We will discuss her customs enforcement and naval manning activities in Rhode Island waters in 1765 and the reactions they prompted in Newport in the next post in this series.