|Launched (Sail)||2 May 1809||Converted to screw||28 September 1848|
|Builders measure||1761 tons||Builders measure (as screw)||1761 tons|
|Displacement||Displacement (as screw)||2828 tons|
|Guns||74||Guns (as screw)||60|
|Fate||1864||Last in commission||1864|
|Class||Armada||Class (as screw)||Blenheim|
|Ships book||ADM 135/9|
|Snippets concerning career prior to conversion|
|2 May 1809||Launched as 3rd rate sailing ship at Perry & Co., Blackwall.|
|January 1840||Out of commission at Portsmouth|
|Career as unarmoured wooden screw vessel|
|28 September 1848||Completed as screw at Thomas & John White, Cowes|
|29 April 1850|
- 9 September 1853
|Commanded (from commissioning at Portsmouth until paying off at Plymouth) by Captain Michael Quin, flagship of Rear-Admiral John Brett Purvis, Queenstown (and June 1853 to Portsmouth)|
|10 September 1853|
- 21 May 1856
|Commanded by Captain Frederick Warden, Portsmouth, then the Baltic during the Russian War|
|25 August 1856|
- 24 January 1858
|Commanded by Captain Robert Spencer Robinson, Superintendent of the steam reserve, guard ship of Ordinary, Devonport|
|1 February 1858|
- 9 February 1861
|Commanded by Captain John NcNeill Boyd, Coast Guard, Kingstown (until Boyd was drowned)|
|18 February 1861|
- 12 March 1862
|Commanded by Captain Edmund Heathcote, Coast Guard, Kingstown|
|12 March 1862|
- 21 March 1864
|Commanded by Captain Michael De Courcy, Coast Guard, Kingstown (replaced by Royal George)|
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Sa 25 October 1845|
24 October 1845The Ajax, 72, was brought down from among the ordinary yesterday alongside the jetty. She will be cut down, after which she will be sent to Mr. White, at Cowes, for the purpose of being repaired and completed for a block ship.
|Th 30 October 1845|
28 October 1845The Edinburgh, 72, will be brought down from among the ordinary ships in a day or two, to be converted into a block ship for Portsmouth in the same manner as the Ajax.
|Th 30 October 1845|
28 October 1845The Ajax is alongside the jetty at Portsmouth. Workmen are engaged in removing the housing over her, and preparing her for cutting down to a blockship for that port.
|Th 30 October 1845|
29 October 1845The Ajax, 72, intended for a block ship, was docked yesterday to have her copper stripped off and to be cut down.
|Ma 3 November 1845|
2 November 1845The Ajax, 72, was undocked yesterday at Portsmouth, having had her copper stripped off, ballast removed, and some of her bulkheads taken out. She will be towed to Cowes in a day or two for conversion to a blockship, by Mr. White.
|Th 6 November 1845|
5 November 1845The Ajax, 72, having been cut down and stripped, was taken out of dock into the harbour at Portsmouth yesterday. She will be towed in a day or two down to Cowes, where she will be fitted, for a block ship for this port under the directions of Mr. White, the eminent ship and yacht builder.
|Ma 17 November 1845|
16 November 1845The Ajax, 72, will be towed down to Cowes to-morrow from Portsmouth, by the Driver steam-sloop, Master Commander Driver, to be converted by Mr. White into a steam guard-ship for that port. Mr. John Fincham, foreman of shipwrights at Devonport Dockyard, has been ordered to Cowes to superintend her conversion, and Mr. May, inspector of shipwrights, who superintended the fitting of the Avenger steam-frigate in the river, is appointed acting-forman of Devonport Yard during Mr. Fincham's absence.
|Tu 18 November 1845|
17 November 1845The Ajax, 72, was towed to Cowes this morning by the Echo steam-tug, to be converted into a block-ship, as a steam guard-ship for Portsmouth.
|We 7 January 1846|
6 January 1846The Ajax, 72, under the process of fitting for a block ship at the establishment of Messrs. Thomas and John White, at Cowes, has, upon examination, turned out so sound in her timbers, that we are informed a report has been forwarded of her state to the Lords of the Admiralty: it is consequently considered probable that, instead of being converted to a block ship, she will he razeéed to a heavy 50-gun frigate, like the Grampus. This ship was built in 1809, at Blackwall, upon draughts furnished by the then joint surveyors of the Navy (Sir Henry Peake, Sir William Rule, and Captain Tucker), by contract, as were a number of others denominated the "Forty Thieves." Her length is 176 feet, breadth 47 feet 9½ inches, and her tonnage 1,791. This ship has frequently been confounded with the Ajax burnt in the Dardanelles about 1805, a ship which had served under Nelson at the battle of the Nile, and many other splendid engagements, to commemorate the name of which vessel the present Ajax was built. On being paid off towards the close of the war this ship underwent a thorough refit, indeed almost a re-construction: her decks were taken up and diagonal ones substituted; her square stern was taken off and a round one took its place, and other alterations throughout, which made her almost a new ship; but it does not appear she has been since employed. The "bitts," "stanchions," &c., are in their rough state, without "sheaves," &c. The work of cutting down for a block ship is partially suspended, awaiting the decision of the Board.
|We 23 September 1846|
22 September 1846The Ajax, a 74 reduced to a 56, and converted into a steam guard, or "block" ship, was undocked this day at Cowes, where her metamorphosis has been werked under the superintendence of Mr. Fincham, jun. This ship, one of the class denominated "the 40 thieves," was built in 1809, from designs of the then surveyors of the navy, by Messrs. Wigram and Green, of Blackwall, admeasured 1,761 tons, and was commanded by the late Admiral (then captain) Sir Robert Waller Otway, off Toulon, in Sir H. Blackwood's partial engagement with the French squadron, and subsequently in covering the siege of San Sebastian in 1813. When formerly loaded, we are told she weighed 3,028 tons, but it is now expected that her weight, caused by her conversion to a steam guard ship, will be increased. The reduction of stowage room, by the occupation of much of that space by her machinery, will, of course, be considerable, although not so much so as to preclude her carrying more than six weeks' provision for 400 men, as has been stated.
If mounted and manned as above reported, she will prove a formidable ship, and yet do a little "honest" work. The Echo tag, with the Assistant-Master-Attendant and Foreman of Shipwrights afloat of this Dockyard, went to Cowes this morning to tow the Ajax to this harbour, where she will remain until her services are required.
|Fr 25 September 1846|
23 September 1846The Ajax steam guard ship was towed up to Portsmouth to-day from Cowes by the Echo steam tug, in charge of Mr. Flynn, master of the Victory.
|Sa 26 September 1846|
25 September 1846The Ajax, 56, steam guard-ship, was docked yesterday to complete for service.
|Sa 8 December 1849|
Portsmouth, Dec. 6.
In Port and FittingIn the Harbour. - The Victory and Illustrious flag-ships, the Excellent gunnery ship; the Blenheim steam-guard-ship; the Eurydice, stripping to pay off; the Contest, fitting out; the Rolla apprentices' brig, laying up for the winter; the Fairy and Elfin, and Portsmouth yachts; the Flamer packet from Holyhead, and the Echo tug.
In Dock. - The Britannia, 120; the Dauntless, 24; the Fantome, 16; the Lily, 16; the Fox, 42; the Devastation, and the Birkenhead steam frigates.
In the Basin. - The Princess Charlotte, 104; the Actaeon, 26; and the Sprightly and the Bee steam-vessels.
In the Steam Basin, - The Ajax, 60; the Penelope, 22; the Sidon, 26; the Victoria and Albert royal yacht; the Urgent , the Pike, the Asp, and the Blazer.
Building. - The Royal Frederick, 120;[subsequently cancelled later and completed as Frederick William] the Prince of Wales, 120; the Princess Royal, 90; the Argus, and the Furious steam sloops.
|Tu 12 February 1861|
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
DUBLIN, SATURDAY EVENING
MELANCHOLY CATASTROPHE AT KINGSTOWN.
Intelligence reached town this afternoon that Captain Boyd, of Her Majesty's ship Ajax, and 14 men of his crew, were unfortunately drowned about 12 o'clock to-day outside Kingstown Harbour. A telegram received states that-
"KINGSTOWN, 2 30 p.m. - As far as can be ascertained, 16 vessels have gone ashore in or about Kingstown Harbour. Many lives have been lost in addition to those of Captain Boyd and boat's crew." Last night, about 9 o'clock, one of the severest gales remembered in Dublin for many years set in from the south-east, and continued to rage up to an advanced hour to-day, accompanied by heavy rain and sleet. In addition to the sad disasters at Kingstown already detailed, numerous shipwrecks have occurred along the eastern coast, in the neighbourhood of Dublin, and it is much feared that the destruction of life and property has been considerable.
THE RECENT STORM.
The ravages committed by the gale of Friday night and Saturday forenoon are much more serious and extensive than the uncertain accounts received in town during Saturday led one to expect. The papers of this morning have each several columns devoted to the records of the disasters which have occurred at various points along the Eastern coast, from Bray in the South to Drogheda in the North; but as yet it is impossible to estimate closely the number of lives lost or of the vessels which have foundered or been broken to pieces. The Freeman's Journal, in an article on the storm, observes:-
"The storm that wrecked the Royal Charter was one of the most violent, for its duration, within the last 20 years. Great damage was the consequence, besides the loss of a noble ship, large property, and many valuable lives. The storm of Friday night and Saturday was still more violent and destructive in its ravages. No phenomena indicated any unusual interruption to the fine weather that prevailed during the last few weeks, which reminded one of the softness of April rather than the harsh and tempestuous days of February; but in the afternoon of Friday the barometer took a sudden turn and rushed down, while the weather-vanes whirled violently between north and east. At midnight, or a little earlier, the storm set in with frightful fury, and raced without intermission until late in the afternoon of Saturday. It gradually subsided towards nightfall, and, though high wind prevailed during Saturday night, it did not approach in fury the storm of the morning. Though the wind blew from between north and east, and more to the north than east during its greatest violence, yet the rush frequently took a wider compass, and appeared to come from the south and west. The storm was or the true cyclonic character, and, as had been anticipated, accompanied with frightful losses, All along the coast we hear of lamentable disasters, but the complete loss will not be known for some days."
The most melancholy of the numerous disasters recorded is decidedly the death of Captain Boyd and his boat's crew, mentioned in my despatch of Saturday. The reporter of the Freeman's Journal gives some details in reference to this event, which I subjoin:-
"Kingstown, Sunday Night,
|We 13 February 1861|
NAVAL AND MILITARY INTELLIGENCE.
A letter received at Plymouth from the Ajax, at Kingstown, says:-
|Tu 5 March 1861||Captain Boyd's Funeral|
The remains of the lamented commander of the Ajax were consigned to their resting place in St. Patrick's Cathedral yesterday, amid extraordinary demonstrations of respect from the people of all classes.