Forever associated with Nelson's last battle, H.M.S. Victory is one
of the most famous ships of all time, and is now preserved as a major
part of the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. The ship's survival is
particularly appropriate since Victory is not only an example of the
ultimate sailing warship ~ the three decker First Rate ~ but she was
also the most popular and successful 100-Gun ship of the period.
Forty years old by the time of Trafalgar (1805), she had been the flagship
of half a dozen Admirals, and was to continue in active service until
This was not the first ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Victory,
there were in fact four predecessors:
1. The first Victory was built in 1559. In 1586, she was rebuilt to
800 tons and carried 34 guns with a crew of 750. At the defeat of the
Spanish Armada in 1588, she was the flagship of Sir John Hawkins.
2. Phineas Pett designed the second Victory. She was built at Deptford
and launched in 1620. Rebuilt in 1666 to 1029 tons and carried 42 guns
and a crew of 500.
3. The Royal James of 1675 was renamed the third Victory in 1691. She
was rebuilt in 1695 to 1486 tons and carried 100 guns and a crew of
4. The fourth Victory suffered a tragic fate. Launched in 1737, she
was of 1920 tons, carried 100 guns and had a crew of 900. She was lost
during a gale while off the Casquets in October 1744. Her whole crew
perished with her ~ this tragedy caused the name Victory to be deleted,
temporarily, from the Admiralty's list of ship names.
This, the fifth Victory, was one of twelve ships
ordered by the Navy Board on June 6th 1759 ~ more than 40 years before
the battle of Trafalgar for which she is famed. Designed by Sir Thomas
Slade, construction began at Chatham Dockyard on July 23rd 1759, the
'marvelous year' (Annus Mirabilis).
This, the year of victories, marked the turning point of the 'seven
years war' for Britain. These facts may well have played a significant
part in the naming of the vessel and the name Victory being restored
to the Admiralty list of ships.
The Victory Manual Set is now available for download in PDF