The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
Before the construction of the prisoner-of-war prison at Princetown, such prisoners were kept aboard ships moored in the Hamoaze. The ships were also used to hold prisoners awaiting transportation to the colonies to do their penal servitude.
In 1808 those in commission were :-
Thus something like 6,200 prisoners of war could be held on board these ships. 
The "Panther" was taken out of service on December 24th 1811, having been replaced by the "Ganges", which was commissioned on December 12th. On December 26th, the "Bienfaisant" was taken out of service also. 
In 1812 only the "Brave", "San Ysidro", San Nicolas" "Europe" and the hospital ship were in commission. The "Europe" was taken out of service on December 28th 1812. 
On January 1st 1813 the prison ships in commission were the "Brave", the "El Firme", the "Hector", the "Generaux", the L'Oiseau", the "San Ysidro", the "San Nicolas", the "Ganges" and the "Le Caton". The "Europe" was brought back into service in September 1813 and the "Bienfaisant" the following month. 
All the above information was abstracted by Mr J Rudland Hearn from a Journal compiled by Captain Edward Hawkins RN (1765-1839), who in June 1808 was appointed as superintendent of the prison ships, replacing Captain Richard Matson. He lived aboard the "Brave". The Journal was in the possession of his granddaughter, Miss Mary G C Hawkins, of Duncan House, Saltash, who died in November 1959. 
Amongst the military units used the guard the prisoners were the 2nd Royal Veteran Battalion in 1807-09; the 1st Lancashire Regiment of Militia (1808); the Royal Marines (1809, 1812 and 1813); the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Regiment of Foot (1809); the West Essex Regiment of Militia (1809); the 1st Somerset Regiment of Militia (1809, from mid June 1811 to January 1812 and again in October 1813); the 1st Devonshire Regiment of Militia (1810); the Shropshire Regiment of Militia (1811 and 1812); the Nottingham Regiment of Militia (1811); the Rosscommon Regiment of Militia from southern Ireland (1812 and April 1813); the Royal South Gloucester Regiment of Militia (1812); the Hereford and Norfolk Regiment of Militia (1813); the South Cork Regiment of Militia, which arrived from Ireland (1813); and the Edinburgh Regiment of Militia which was on route to Ireland (1813). 
On November 16th 1813 Captain Edward Hawkins RN was relieved at Plymouth by Captain D'Arcy Preston RN. 
There were a number of other prison ships in later years. The aptly named "Captivity", was certainly at Devonport in 1821. She held an average of 426 prisoners per day. The vessel had previously been "HMS Bellerophon" and had been reduced to a prison hulk in October 1815. She took the name "Captivity" on October 5th 1824 and remained at Devonport until around 1834, when she was removed to Sheerness. She was sold in January 1836 and broken up at Surrey Canal Wharf.
The "Stirling Castle" was at Devonport between March 1840 and September 1844, after which she moved to Portsmouth and then Gosport before being broken up in September 1861.
One of the prison hulks, the "Success", was exhibited in coastal ports around the country as "The World's Most Remarkable Vessel - Visited by Royalty".
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
Any problems viewing this webpage should be notified to the webmaster at plymouthdata dot info