First Battle of Cape Finisterre (1747)

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First battle of Cape Finisterre
Part of the War of the Austrian Succession
Battle of Cape Finisterre, 1747.jpg
Lord Anson's victory off Cape Finisterre, 3 May 1747, National Maritime Museum.
Date14 May 1747
LocationOff Cape Finisterre
Result British victory
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France [1]
Commanders and leaders
British-Red-Ensign-1707.svg George Anson Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg Jacques-Pierre de la Jonquière   White flag icon.svg
14 ships of the line
1 frigate
1 sloop
1 fireship
4 ships of the line
8 frigates
4 corvettes
30 merchantmen
Casualties and losses
520 killed and wounded [2] 4 ships of the line,
4 frigates,
4 corvettes,
6 merchantmen captured,
800 killed or wounded,
3000 captured [2]

The First Battle of Cape Finisterre (14 May 1747 [3] ) saw 14 British ships of the line under Admiral George Anson attack a French 30-ship convoy commanded by Admiral de la Jonquière during the War of the Austrian Succession. The British captured 4 ships of the line, 2 frigates and 7 merchantmen, in a five-hour battle in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Finisterre in northwest Spain. One French frigate, one French East India Company warship and the other merchantmen escaped.

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

George Anson, 1st Baron Anson 18th-century British admiral

Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, was a Royal Navy officer. Anson served as a junior officer during the War of the Spanish Succession and then saw active service against Spain at the Battle of Cape Passaro during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. He then undertook a circumnavigation of the globe during the War of Jenkins' Ear. Anson commanded the fleet that defeated the French Admiral de la Jonquière at the First Battle of Cape Finisterre during the War of the Austrian Succession.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.




France needed to keep shipping lanes open in order to maintain her overseas empire. To this end she assembled merchantmen into convoys protected by warships. Anson on Prince George and Rear-Admiral Sir Peter Warren on Devonshire had sailed from Plymouth on 9 April to intercept French shipping. When a large convoy was sighted Anson had made the signal to form line of battle. When Rear-Admiral Warren, suspecting the enemy to be merely manoeuvring to promote the escape of the convoy, bore down and communicated his opinion to the admiral, the latter threw out a signal for a general chase.

HMS Devonshire was a 66-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions laid out in the 1741 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Woolwich Dockyard, and launched on 19 July 1745.


Centurion under a press of sail, was the first to come up with the rearmost French ship, which she attacked heavily and two other ships dropped astern to her support. The action became general when three more British ships, including Devonshire, came up. The French, though much inferior in numbers, fought till seven in the evening, when all but two of their ships were taken, as well as nine East India merchantmen. The French lost 700 men killed and wounded, and the British 520. Over £300,000 was found on board the ships of war, which were turned into British ships.

HMS <i>Centurion</i> (1732)

HMS Centurion was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built at Portsmouth Dockyard and launched on 6 January 1732. At the time of Centurion's construction, the 1719 Establishment dictated the dimensions of almost every ship being built. Owing to concerns over the relative sizes of British ships compared to their continental rivals, Centurion was ordered to be built 1 ft (0.3 m) wider across the beam than the Establishment prescribed. HMS Rippon was similarly built to non-Establishment dimensions at the same time.


Chevalier de Saint-George of Invincible surrenders his sword to Admiral Anson after the battle Chevalier de Saint-George.jpg
Chevalier de Saint-George of Invincible surrenders his sword to Admiral Anson after the battle

Following his victory, Anson was raised to the peerage. The French assembled another, much bigger, convoy which set sail in October; Hawke's defeat of this fleet in the Second Battle of Cape Finisterre put an end to French naval operations for the rest of the war. François de Grasse later the famous Comte was wounded in this First Battle and taken prisoner as he served on La Gloire, which was captured.

Second Battle of Cape Finisterre (1747) naval battle which took place on 25 October 1747

The Second Battle of Cape Finisterre was a naval battle which took place on 25 October 1747 during the War of the Austrian Succession. A British fleet of fourteen ships of the line commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Hawke intercepted a French convoy protected by eight French ships of the line commanded by Admiral Desherbiers de l'Etenduère.

François Joseph Paul de Grasse French admiral

François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse was a career French officer who achieved the rank of admiral. He is best known for his command of the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 in the last year of the American Revolutionary War. It led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown and helped gain the rebels' victory.

According to historian William Williamson, the battle was a "most severe blow to the French interests in America. Besides immense property taken, there were found on board … numerous articles designed for the Acadians and Indians" who continued to resist the British in Acadia/ Nova Scotia. [4]

Acadia colony of New France in northeastern North America

Acadia was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to the Kennebec River. During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southernmost settlements of Acadia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and 46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies that became Canadian provinces and American states. The population of Acadia included members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and descendants of emigrants from France. The two communities intermarried, which resulted in a significant portion of the population of Acadia being Métis.

Nova Scotia Province of Canada

Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).

Order of battle

Naval Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Britain (George Anson)

Flagship vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships

A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, characteristically a flag officer entitled by custom to fly a distinguishing flag. Used more loosely, it is the lead ship in a fleet of vessels, typically the first, largest, fastest, most heavily armed, or best known.

Peter Warren (Royal Navy officer) Royal Navy admiral

Admiral Sir Peter Warren, KB was a British naval officer from Ireland who commanded the naval forces in the attack on the French fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1745. He later sat as MP for Westminster.

Vice-Admiral Temple West was a British naval officer, best known for his role as second-in-command to Admiral John Byng in the Battle of Minorca (1756).

Print of Invincible captured after the battle Invincible 74 canons capture en 1747 au cap Ortegal.jpg
Print of Invincible captured after the battle

Pavillon royal de France.svg France (de la Jonquière)

See also


    • "...the standard of France was white, sprinkled with golden fleur de lis..." (Ripley & Dana 1879, p. 250).
    • On the reverse of this plate it says: "Le pavillon royal était véritablement le drapeau national au dix-huitième siecle...Vue du chateau d'arrière d'un vaisseau de guerre de haut rang portant le pavillon royal (blanc, avec les armes de France)" (Vinkhuijzen collection 2011).
    • "The oriflamme and the Chape de St Martin were succeeded at the end of the 16th century, when Henry III., the last of the house of Valois, came to the throne, by the white standard powdered with fleurs-de-lis. This in turn gave place to the famous tricolour"(Chisholm 1911, p. 460).
  1. 1 2 Allen, Joseph (1852). Battles of the British navy, Volume 1. London: Henry G. Bohn. p. 160.
  2. in the Julian calendar then in use in Britain this was 3 May 1747
  3. William Williamson, p. 253

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