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SERAPIS: Fifth Rate, 44 gun, Two Decker (incorrectly a frigate: D Lyon), Roebuck class by Slade of 1769

Built Randall, Rotherhithe, 1778; launched 4 March 1779; taken by BONHOMME RICHARD (accompanied by ALLIANCE (36), PALLAS (30 or 32) and VENGEANCE (12)) and transfered to the French Navy; wrecked 1781 off Madagascar.

140' x 115'9' x 37' 9 1/2" x 16' 4"
879 20/94 tons
264 men
Gun Deck 20 x 18lb
Upper Deck 22 x short 12lb
Forecastle 2 x 6lb
(broadside 318 lbs)

BONHOMME RICHARD: normally referred to as a frigate (42), armed merchantman converted to privateer / warship use.

Ex DURAS [1], (or DUC DE DURAS) French built 1765 for the East India Co., purchased by le Roi Louis and placed at the disposal of John Paul [Jones][2] 4 Feb 1779 by de Sartine, Ministre de la Marine, and renamed by John Paul as BONHOMME RICHARD (Benjamin Franklin had used 'Richard' as a nom de plume).

Sank 25 Sep 1779, resulting from engagement with SERAPIS, accompanied by COUNTESS OF SCARBOROUGH (20), 23 Sep 1779

152' x Keel x 40' x 19'
998 tons
375 men (DANFS); 347 Clowes)
Lower deck 6 x 18lb, could be fought either side [3]
Main deck 28 x 12lb
Forecastle and quarterdeck 8 x 9lb
(broadside 312 lbs)

John Paul (Jones)
John Paul Jones (Philadelphia, Independence Hall)

[ Back ] Footnote 1: DUC DE DURAS, built in Lorient, 1764; variously as 900 or 1000 tonneaux (tons); normally mounted 20 guns, but was pierced for 26. Launched 28 November 1765. Not to be confused with a different but contemporaneous DUC DE DURAS, also of Lorient, used in the slave trade by Espivent de la Villeboisnet (or Epevent de la Ville Boisnet) between 1769 and 1772 - variously given as 10, 12 or 16 guns between 1771 and 1784, with tonnage ranging from 250 to 900.

[ Back ] Footnote 2: John Paul, born 6 July 1747, Arbigland, Kirkcudbright, started a maritime career at the age of twelve or thirteen. His early life included two years aboard slavetraders, and killing a mutinous sailor over a wage dispute. Fleeing Great Britain and changing his name to John Paul Jones, he turned his allegiances towards the Revolutionary War in North America (the fledgling United States) and France, becoming a successful officer in the Continental Navy. Regarded by some as the "father of the American Navy", by others as a mercenary privateer, his greatest success was the capture of the British SERAPIS (140 foot Fifth Rate, 44 guns) in 1779. He joined the Imperial Russian Navy as a Rear-Admiral in 1787, and died 18 July 1792 in Paris.

[ Back ] Footnote 3: Ordered by John Paul [Jones] from Sazerac et Cie, who had them made by the Fonderie Royale d'Angoulême; however, at least 2 of these guns exploded on first being fired during the engagement with the SERAPIS, and all were abandoned.



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Revised: 21 January 2003