Sir Thomas Slade (1703/4–1771)was an English naval architect, most famous for designing HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Like many who rose to the pinnacle of the design of British sailing warships, Thomas Slade began as a shipwright in the Royal Dockyards. His uncle Benjamin Slade was Master Shipwright at Plymouth Dockyard (a master shipwright was responsible for all ship construction and repair at the dockyard in which he served).
In 1744 Thomas became Deputy Master Shipwright at Woolwich Dockyard. On 22 November 1750 he replaced his uncle, who had died that year, as Master Shipwright at Plymouth. On 27 May 1752 he was transferred temporarily back to Woolwich Dockyard as Master Shipwright, and from there to Chatham Dockyard on 17 June 1752 and subsequently on 15 March 1753 to Deptford Dockyard, where he remained until 5 August 1755.
He was appointed Surveyor of the Navy in August 1755 by George Anson, First Lord of the Admiralty, serving until his death in February 1771. For the first decade, he shared the appointment with William Bately, formerly the Deputy Surveyor of the Navy, until the latter's retirement in June 1765. On Bately's retirement, John Williams was appointed to share the post. Nevertheless, Slade was clearly the senior surveyor throughout his tenure.
He was knighted on 27 January 1768.
According to N. A. M. Rodger:
The ships which [he] designed...were admirably suited to Britain's strategic requirements...By common consent, Slade was the greatest British naval architect of the century...it was generally agreed (even by themselves) that his successors, though competent designers, never matched his genius.
During this tenure, Slade was responsible for several major design changes. He produced a 'generic design' that was used as a template for the Royal Navy's 74-gun ships and frigates. His '74' designs, starting with the Dublin-class, were an evolution of current British ships, built to compete with the new French '74's, some of which had been captured during the War of Austrian Succession in 1747. At least forty-six '74's were built to his designs; the last was launched in 1789.
He also designed HMS Asia, which was the first true 64-gun ship.As a result, the Royal Navy ordered no further 60-gun ships but instead commissioned more 64s. Because these incorporated alterations learned from trials with Asia, subsequent ships were bigger, she was the only ship of her draught (class). The first of these was HMS Ardent, which ushered in the Ardent-class.
Slade also designed smaller vessels, such as the 10-gun Board of Customs cutter, HMS Sherborne.
Victory was his most famous single vessel. Once commissioned, she became the most successful first-rate ship of the line ever built. On 13 December 1758, the Board of Admiralty in London placed an order for the construction of 12 new ships of the line, including one of 100 guns. The following year the Admiralty chose the name Victory for this vessel, despite the previous holders of the name having been largely unsuccessful. In 1758, Nelson was born, who would die on her decks at Trafalgar.
Out of the 33 ships which were available to Nelson at Trafalgar, eight ( Africa, Victory, Agamemnon, Bellerophon, Defiance, Thunderer, Defence, and Prince ) were built to Thomas Slade's designs. Two more of his ships ( Swiftsure and Berwick ) had been captured by the French earlier and fought on the French side. Slade's designs represented 24% of Nelson's ships and 29% of his guns.
This table lists ships that were built to designs drawn up by Thomas Slade. Some of them were not ordered until after his death.
|HMS Victory||First rate||104||1||1759||1778||Chatham Dockyard||Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.|
|Sandwichclass||Second rate||90||3||1759–1761||Chatham Dockyard, Woolwich Dockyard|
|London class||Second rate||90–98||4||1766–1790||Chatham Dockyard, Woolwich Dockyard, Deptford Dockyard|
|Barfleurclass||Second rate||90||4||1768–1777||Chatham Dockyard, Portsmouth Dockyard|
|Dublinclass||Third rate||74||7||1755–1756||1757–1759||Deptford Dockyard; Wells & Company, Deptford; Chatham Dockyard; Woolwich Dockyard; Thomas West, Deptford; Henry Bird, Northam, Southampton; Portsmouth Dockyard||First class of 74-gun ships built for the Royal Navy.|
|HMS Hero||Third rate||74||1||1759||Plymouth Dockyard|
|Herculesclass||Third rate||74||2||1759–1760||Deptford Dockyard, Woolwich Dockyard||Developed from the Dublinclass, and HMS Hero.|
|Bellonaclass||Third rate||74||5||1757–1758||1760–1770||Chatham Dockyard, Deptford Dockyard, Plymouth Dockyard|
|Ramilliesclass||Third rate||74||9||1760–1762||1762–1778||Chatham Dockyard; Deptford Dockyard; John Barnard, Harwich; Thomas West, Deptford; John and William Wells, Deptford; Henry Bird and Roger Fisher, Milford Haven; Plymouth Dockyard||Based on the Bellonaclass.|
|HMS Asia||Third rate||64||1||1758||1771||Portsmouth Dockyard||First 64-gun ship built for the Royal Navy.|
|Southamptonclass||Frigate||32||4||1756||1757–1759||Robert Inwood, Rotherhithe; Deptford Dockyard; John Quallet, Rotherhithe; John Barnard & John Turner, Harwich; Robert Batson, Limehouse||First single-deck frigates. Designed with sweep ports (for rowing) along the lower deck.|
|Nigerclass||Frigate||32||11||1757–1763||1758–1769||Thomas Stanton & Company, Rotherhithe; Deptford Dockyard; John Barnard & John Turner, Harwich; Thomas West, Deptford; Sheerness Dockyard; Chatham Dockyard; Hugh Blaydes, Hull; Hugh Blaydes & Thomas Hodgson, Hull||Developed from the Southampton-class frigates.|
|Lowestoffeclass||Frigate||28||2||1755||1756||John Greaves, Limehouse; John Randall's yard, Nelson Dock, Rotherhithe (both completed at Deptford Dockyard)||Based on the prototype 28-gun frigate Lyme, "with such alterations as may tend to the better stowing of men and carrying for guns".|
|Coventryclass||Frigate||28||18||1756–1783||1757–1787||Henry Adams, Buckler's Hard; Henry Bird, Rotherhithe; Gorill & Pownall, Liverpool; Thomas Seward, Rochester; Woolwich Dockyard; Chatham Dockyard; Deptford Dockyard; Thomas Stanton & Co, Rotherhithe; Robert Inwood, Rotherhithe; Pleasant Fenn, East Cowes; Portsmouth Dockyard; Moody Janvrin, Bursledon; Richard Chitty, Milford; Sheerness Dockyard||Largely modeled on the Lowestoffe class. Five ships were built in fir instead of oak as an experiment.|
|HMS Sherborne||Cutter||10||1||1763||1764||Woolwich Dockyard|
Sir Thomas Slade died on 23 February 1771 in Bath, and is buried in St Clement's churchyard, Grimwade Street, Ipswich. His will was proven on 19 March 1771 (Prob. 11/965). His wife Hannah and her parents were buried next to the west boundary of the churchyard.
Slade Pointon the central Queensland coast was named after him.
His 1745 apprentice John Henslow (later Sir John) also became Chief Surveyor to the Navy in 1784 and was the grandfather of Darwin's mentor John Henslow.
HMS Bellerophon was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Launched in 1786, she served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, mostly on blockades or convoy escort duties. Known to sailors as the "Billy Ruffian", she fought in three fleet actions, the Glorious First of June, the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Trafalgar, and was the ship aboard which Napoleon finally surrendered, ending 22 years of nearly continuous war with France.
HMS Ajax was an Ajax class 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the British Royal Navy. She was built by John Randall & Co of Rotherhithe and launched on the Thames on 3 March 1798. Ajax participated in the Egyptian operation of 1801, the Battle of Cape Finisterre in 1805 and the Battle of Trafalgar, before she was lost to a disastrous fire in 1807 during the Dardanelles Operation.
HMS Neptune was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She served on a number of stations during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
HMS Colossus was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched from Deptford Dockyard on 23 April 1803. She was designed by Sir John Henslow as one of the large class 74s, and was the name ship of her class, the other being Warspite. As a large 74, she carried 24 pdrs on her upper gun deck, as opposed to the 18 pdrs found on the middling and common class 74s. She took part in the Battle of Trafalgar, and was broken up in 1826.
HMS Victory was a 100-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, built to the dimensions of the 1733 proposals of the 1719 Establishment at Portsmouth Dockyard, and launched on 23 February 1737/8.
HMS Elephant was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was built by George Parsons in Bursledon, Hampshire, and launched on 24 August 1786.
HMS Fame was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, in service during the Seven Years' War and the American Revolutionary War.
Sir John Henslow was Surveyor to the Navy a post he held jointly or solely from 1784 to 1806.
The Surveyor of the Navy also known as Department of the Surveyor of the Navy and originally known as Surveyor and Rigger of the Navy was a former principle commissioner and member of both the Navy Board from the inauguration of that body in 1546 until its abolition in 1832 and then a member Board of Admiralty from 1848-1859. In 1860 the office was renamed Controller of The Navy until 1869 when the office was merged with that of the Third Naval Lord's the post holder held overall responsibility for the design of British warships.
HMS Edgar was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, that saw service in the American Revolutionary, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Launched in 1779, she fought in the battles of Cape St Vincent and Copenhagen, two of the major naval engagements of the wars.
The Bellona-class ships of the line were a class of five 74-gun third rates, whose design for the Royal Navy by Sir Thomas Slade was approved on 31 January 1758. Three ships were ordered on 28 December 1757, with names being assigned on 1 February 1758. Two further ships to this design were ordered on 13 December 1758, at the same time as two ships of a revised design – the Arrogant class.
The Hercules class ships of the line were a class of two 74-gun third rates, designed for the Royal Navy by Sir Thomas Slade.
The Dublin-class ships of the line were a class of seven 74-gun third rates, designed for the Royal Navy by Sir Thomas Slade.
The Albion-class ships of the line were a class of five 74-gun third rates, designed for the Royal Navy by Sir Thomas Slade.
The Culloden-class ships of the line were a class of eight 74-gun third rates, designed for the Royal Navy by Sir Thomas Slade. The Cullodens were the last class of 74s which Slade designed before his death in 1771.
Sir William Symonds CB FRS was Surveyor of the Navy in the Royal Navy from 9 June 1832 to October 1847, and took part in the naval reforms instituted by the Whig First Lord of the Admiralty Sir James Robert George Graham in 1832.
The 1745 Establishment was the third and final formal establishment of dimensions for ships to be built for the Royal Navy. It completely superseded the previous 1719 Establishment, which had subsequently been modified in 1733 and again in 1741. Although partially intended to correct the problems of the ships built to the earlier Establishments, the ships of the 1745 Establishment proved just as unsatisfactory, and important changes in the make-up of the Admiralty and Navy Boards finally led to the end of the establishment era by around 1751.
Deptford Dockyard was an important naval dockyard and base at Deptford on the River Thames, in what is now the London Borough of Lewisham, operated by the Royal Navy from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It built and maintained warships for 350 years, and many significant events and ships have been associated with it.
HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, ordered in 1758, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is best known for her role as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.
HMS Brilliant was a 36-gun Venus-class fifth-rate frigate of the British Royal Navy that saw active service during the Seven Years' War with France. She performed well against the French Navy in the 1760 Battle of Bishops Court and the 1761 Battle of Cape Finisterre, but was less capable when deployed for bombardment duty off enemy ports. She also captured eight French privateers and sank two more during her six years at sea. The Royal Navy decommissioned Brilliant in 1763. The Navy sold her in 1776 and she became a mercantile vessel for the British East India Company (EIC).Brilliant she wrecked in August 1782 on the Comoro Islands while transporting troops to India.