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Action of 2 May 1707
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Attaque d'une Escadre Angloise dans la Manche.jpg
Action of 2 May 1707. National Maritime Museum
Date2–3 May 1707
Locationoff Beachy Head
Coordinates: 50°44′20.29″N 0°14′31.58″E / 50.7389694°N 0.2421056°E / 50.7389694; 0.2421056
Result French victory
 Kingdom of France  Kingdom of Great Britain[1]
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Claude de Forbin Kingdom of Great Britain Commodore Baron Wylde
7 Ships of the line
6 Privateers
3 Ships of the line
52 Merchantmen
Casualties and losses
Light 2 Ships of the line captured[2]
21 merchantmen captured[3]

The Action of 2 May 1707, also known as Beachy Head, was a naval battle of the War of the Spanish Succession in which a French squadron under Claude de Forbin, intercepted a large British convoy escorted by three ships of the line, under Commodore Baron Wylde. The Action began when 3 French ships, the Grifon, Blackoal and Dauphine, grappled the HMS Hampton Court, killing her captain, George Clements, and taking her. Claude Forbin's 60-gun Mars next attacked the HMS Grafton and, when joined by the French ships Blackoal and Fidèle, killed his Captain Edward Acton, and took her too.[4] The convoy was scattered and the last British escort, the HMS Royal Oak, badly hit and with 12 feet of water in her wells, managed to escape by running ashore near Dungeness, from where she was carried the next day into the Downs.[5]

The French took 21 sail of merchant ships, besides the two 70-gun Ships of the line, and carried them all into Dunkirk.[6]


On 1 May a large outward-bound convoy for the West Indies, under the protection of three ships of the line, sailed from the Downs and being six leagues to the westward of Beachy, they fell in with the French squadron from Dunkirk, commanded by Claude de Forbin. This squadron consisted of 7 sail of the line and 6 privateers.[7] The Action began when 3 French ships, the Griffon, Blackoal and La Dauphine, grappled the HMS Hampton Court and killed Captain Clements. Commodore Wyld took five of his largest merchant ships into his line and boldly met the attack of the French ships.[8] For two and a half hours a heavy fire was kept up on both sides; The Hampton Court fought desperately and was obliged to surrender.[9] La Dauphine next vigorously attacked the HMS Grafton and when joined by the French ships Blackoal and Fidele, captured her after a warm dispute of half an hour.[10] Claude Forbin's 60-gun Mars attacked Commodore Wyld's HMS Royal Oak. The ship having eleven feet water in her hold, managed to escape with great loss by running ashore, from where she was carried into the Downs.[11]

Order of battle


  • Mars 60 Capitaine chevalier de Forbin.[12]
  • La Dauphine 56 - Comte de Roquefeuil.[13]
  • Fidèle 56 - Baron d'Arey.[14]
  • Blackoal 54 - de Tourouvre.[15]
  • Salisbury 50 - Chevalier de Vezins.[16]
  • Griffon 50 - Chevalir de Nangis.[17]
  • Protée 50 - Comte d'Illiers.[18]

6 Privateers.[19]


55 Merchant ships.


  1. This battle occurred one or two days after the Acts of Union of 1707.
  2. Allen p.101
  3. Allen p.101
  4. Haws/Hurst p.347
  5. Haws/Hurst p.347
  6. Allen p.101
  7. Troude 259
  8. Haws/Hurst p.347
  9. Allen p.101
  10. Haws/Hurst p.347
  11. Allen p.101
  12. Troude 259
  13. Troude 259
  14. Troude 259
  15. Troude 259
  16. Troude 259
  17. Troude 259
  18. Troude 259
  19. Troude 259
  20. Allen p.101
  21. Allen p.101
  22. Allen p.101


  • Haws, Duncan; Hurst, Alexander Anthony (1985). The Maritime History of the World: A Chronological Survey of Maritime Events from 5,000 B.C. Until the Present Day. Vol I. ISBN 978-0-903662-10-9.
  • Allen, Joseph. Battles of the British Navy: from A.D. 1000 to 1840 Bell & Daldy publishing, ASIN B00087UD9S
  • (French) Troude, O. Batailles navales de la France, Vol. I.

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