Rear-Admiral Whetstone to
1704, July 29. Yarmouth Roads. - "My last was by
express of the 21st instant from Yarmouth, which gave account of our seeing the Dunkirk
squadron, twelwe in number, which we saw go out of the Channel, between that place and
Ostend. The Dutch and we were then together; we all chased them, but were outsailed by
them, except the Winchester, who a little before night was within two miles of
them and discovered their force; the wind was then at S. W., but that night shifted to N.
E. The Dutch having left us, we stood close upon a wind over the coast of England,
according to my order to call att Yarmouth. Sailing close upon a wind the next day, we saw
from our topmast head seven sail, which we judge to be part of that squadron ; we kept our
wind, but they were soon out of sight of us. We stopped that leetide before Lowestoft
(Loestoff), where I called a consultation of the captains, and it was unanimously
concluded that I should take what of her Majesty's ships of war could be spared to join us
in pursuit of the enemy.
"The next morning, with the windward tide, we
weighed, got off of Yarmouth, sent in our boat with orders to the Worcester, who
was then in the roads, the Russian merchant-ships being gone without convoy four days
before. We immediately plied away to the northward, the winds at N. N. E. and N. E., and
so have continued ever since, blowing strong.. We met with several Danes, who told us of
some small privateers they had seen, and of a French man-of-war of forty-four guns
belonging to Port Lewis, cruising off the Texell : we believing we had once sight of him,
but he outsailed us; but none we have yet met with can give an account of that squadron ,
nor can we learn the place of their rendezvous.
"About five o'clock on Thursday morning, just
after we had tacked, before our head sails was trimmed, the Worcester runned us
on board on the lee quarter, staved her own head and cutwater and knee in pieces, that
they had much ado to secure the masts, and disabled the ship from farther service till
docked ; broke several of our quarter timbers and gunwale, carried away our gallery and
ensign staff, split our mizen, broke our mizen yard ; so that I fear this ship must be
sent in to fit what amiss [sic], and may then clean, being very foul, if it be
his Royal Highness' pleasure. The master being the only officer on deck, I have ordered
Capt. Butler to confine him till the Prince's pleasure be known. These misfortunes brought
us now into this place. The Chester and Assistance are gone to their
respective convoys, who have had no wind to sail with since our going from thence.
"About four hours after the Worcester
runned on board us we saw from the mast-head twelwe sail of ships, ten of them a little
upon our weather bow, which by their number we judged to be the Dunkirk squadron, and
therefore made all the sail we could to get up with them.. The Worcester, Winchester
and Dover sailing best, came up with them some time before the rest; it proved a
Swede's man-of-war and nine convoys, some bound to France and some to England, as he said.
The Worcester fired two shots at the man-of-war to make him strike. The Swede
sent his boat to Capt. Butler to tell him he would not strike his topsails to any prince
what-ever. Captain Butler fired a third shot, which the Swede returned with a whole
broadside, he having fifty guns. He battled those ships very resolutely, and some others
fired a broadside or two at him till he was much disabled, and then he struck. He has done
much damage to our ships and men; the carpenter of the Winchester is killed and
the boatswain of this ship. The damages and defects of them are enclosed. I have appointed
such officers as the captains have recommended for good men till his Royal Highness's
pleasure is farther known. I humbly recommend William Till for boatswain of the Litchfield,
a person that is now mate of the said ship, well known to Captain Billingsly, and a very
good officer to my own knowledge. Yesterday morning we saw a fleet of ships, which, coming
up with, found to be the Hamburgh fleet, to whom I joined those Swedes, and sent only the Worcester
to go in with them, because of her disability, sending an order to the Sorlings
to join me again in this place, where last night I came to an anchor with the ships in the
margin, and find the Rochester is gone from hence to look for us.
"I received here his Royal Highness's commands of
the 22nd. By my express from this place I gave account of Rear-Admiral de Bours' answer to
me, and of his leaving me upon the coast of Flandres. By the Worcester I have
sent the Swede's captain's commission and instructions directed to you, to be laid before
his Royal Highness. he showed abundance of contempt to her Majesty's sovereignty in these
seas, and without expostulating, fired his broadside into the Worcester before
they expected anything like it. The Dover has received several unlucky shot,
which made the captain request a survey on his ship ; the report of which is enclosed. I
pray his Royal Highness's commands as to that ship. The Litchfield has received
much damage by the Worcester running us aboard.
"We have among our ships about sixty or seventy
men killed and wounded in fight with the Swede's man-of-war."
Historical Manuscripts Commission
Report on the manuscripts of His Grace the Duke of Portland....
vol. VIII, s. 131-133