The History of the Fourth Vanguard of the Royal Navy
1748 - 1774
                                                                                             LIST OF CAPTAINS

                                                                                      31 Mar.   1748     Hon. John Hamilton    
                                                                                      23 Nov.   1751     Hyde Parker
                                                                                      16 Jan.   1753     Frederick Rogers  
                                                                                      23 Oct.   1753     Hon. John Byron
                                                                                        5  Apr.   1757     Thomas Knackston
                                                                                      21 Sept.  1757     Robert Swanton
                                                                                      18 Jan.    1763     John Carter Allen

The fourth Vanguard of 1419 tons, built at. Cowes in 1748, was a larger ship than her predecessor, but carrying only 70 guns, was classed as a Third Rate. The Seven Years War, 1756 to 1763, provided her with her share of fighting, though it was not until eighteen months after the war started that she is mentioned as being in action.

With Captain Robert Swanton in command, in October 1757, she was sent out from Portsmouth in a squadron under Hawke to intercept a French squadron of eighteen ships which was returning from Louisburg in the then French Cape Breton Island, off Nova Scotia. The British ships being dispersed by a gale at a crucial moment, the Vanguard was by herself when she sighted the French squadron off Brest on 23rd November. She was engaged, but escaped.

Early in 1758 a fleet of 24 ships of the line with attendant frigates, sloops and other craft was mobilised, some in home waters and some on the American coast ; they met at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the middle of May. Military forces had been mobilised concurrently, so the French main base on the coast  - Louisburg - was invested forthwith.  This was essentially a combined operation, with assaults over the beaches and supporting bombardments from the heavy ships the navy had, in addition, to blockade the enemy ships in harbour and cut off the French sea supply line. It was on this last duty that the Vanguard was largely employed, though she was at Louisburg from time to time and assisted in the other phases of the operation. The operation took longer than had been expected so that, when the fortress capitulated on 26th July, there was insufficient time for the second phase of the campaign - the capture of Quebec and the conquest of Canada - to be undertaken that season.

The greater part of the fleet returned to England, but the Vanguard, with nine other ships under Rear-Admiral Durell, spent the winter at Halifax. They had instructions to he in the mouth of the St. Lawrence river at the first sign of spring, to ensure that no French reinforcements passed up the river to Quebec. Unfortunately they were too late on their station to achieve this task, but they did much to make up for the failure by the thorough survey that they made of the river while waiting for the main forces to arrive. The French, having removed all the buoys and marks, considered that the river was impassable for ships of any size without pilots;  but them invading fleet and convoy made the difficult passage without. delay, on their arrival in the middle of June.

Until the end of June the Vanguard remained with Durell's squadron and the larger ships in the lower reaches of the river, to intercept any more French reinforcements that might he sent. But at the end of the month she herself proceeded up the river with Rear-Admiral Charles Holmes to reinforce the fleet acting in direct support of the army.

Here, as at Louisburg, it was a matter of landing troops in ships' boats, providing supporting fire for them when ashore and the bombardment of fixed defences. In addition, ships guns were landed to reinforce the artillery ashore. After protracted preliminary diversions and operations, the famous surprise landing and climb to the Heights of Abraham were made on  13th September 1759, and Quebec fell.
Early in October the Vanguard sailed for Plymouth, in company with Admiral Saunders in the Somerset (64) and the Devonshire (66).  When fifty miles off the Lizard they fell in with the Juno, who told them that Hawke was out chasing a large French fleet from Brest. The three ships immediately put about to join Hawke, but had the disappointment of arriving off Quiberon Bay on the 21st November, the morning after Hawke had won his dashing victory.

During the winter the French forces remaining in Canada laid siege to ice-bound Quebec, where the garrison were near exhausted with fighting on short rations and with disease. Commodore Robert Swanton, flying his broad pendant in the Vanguard, left England in the spring for its relief with 5 ships of the line and four frigates. Arriving off Quebec on 16th May, the frigates swiftly sank or drove up river the few small French ships while the Vanguard enfiladed the enemy's trenches and forced their abandonment. The siege was raised, and Canada was thus secured to the English crown.  A French squadron arrived six days later, so we may justifiably say that had it not been for the opportune arrival of the Vanguard and Swantons Squadron, Canada might not be a member of the British Commonwealth to-day.

Some time after the fall of Belleisle in June 1761, the Vanguard, still under the command of Captain Swanton, joined Keppel's squadron blockading the French in those waters.

1762 Martinique
Towards the end of the same year she was ordered to Guadaloupe to join Rodney's force which was being formed for the capture of Martinique. This again was a combined operation, the navy landing soldiers in ships' boats over open beaches and providing supporting fire;  the sailors also performed prodigious feats in landing artillery and hauling it by hand over the very difficult country between the landing-place and the capital city, Fort Royal. Captain Swanton was in command of the fleet's boats in the initial assault on 16th January 1762 but, before Fort Royal surrendered 3rd February, he was ordered to Grenada to demand the surrender of that island.

Reinforcements and troop  transports reached him on 3rd March, and on the 4th the inhabitants surrendered in spite of a refusal by the governor to do so. Not a shot had been fired.

Though the war continued for another year,  the Vanguard saw no more action. She was sold out of the service in 1774.

                                   AN INTERLUDE.


During the siege of Gibraltar a small local craft was taken up and armed as a gunboat with four 26-pounders and two 12-pounders. Very small, she was not registered in the List of the Navy, so may be regarded as somewhat. illegitimate, but her name was Vanguard and she was in action against the King's enemies;  hence her service is recorded here.

On the 7th August 1781, the Helena (14) was making for Gibraltar under sweeps in a flat calm when she was set upon by fourteen Spanish gunboats.  The Vanguard and the Repulse, a similar gunboat, put out to her rescue and, in a short sharp action, drove the Spaniards off.

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