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British Warships in the Age of Sail
File:British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817.jpg
Front cover of British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817
Author Rif Winfield
Language English
Subject Sailing warships of the Royal Navy
Genre Maritime History
Publisher Chatham Publishing
Seaforth Press
Publication date 2005-2009

British Warships in the Age of Sail is a series of books by maritime historian Rif Winfield comprising a historical reference work providing details of all recorded ships in commission or intended to serve in the Royal Navy from 1603 to 1817.


The books draw data from Admiralty official records to give details on the location of construction, dates of construction (ordering, keel laying, launch, commissioning and completion of fitting-out), principal dimensions and tonnage, complement of men and armament, machinery (for steam vessels) and fate of every ship of the Royal Navy over the period. Designed dimensions and tonnage are given for every class of vessel planned and built for the Navy, but in addition the actual dimensions measured for each individual vessel completed to those designs are separately given; this treatment has also been applied to the many vessels purchased or captured by British naval forces, and added to the service. The costs of building and fitting out each vessel are given (where known), as well as the costs and dates of major refits during each ship's life. Also included are details of their commanders with dates when each served, areas and periods of service, and significant actions in which the ships took part.

Each volume contains details of over two thousand separate vessels, and is illustrated by approximately two hundred black-and-white renditions of the design draughts, contemporary portrayals and other depictions of most classes of vessel covered.


The series currently comprises three books. The first of the series to be produced, the 1793-1817 volume, was first published in 2005 by Chatham Publishing. The remaining titles, and an updated edition of the 1793-1817 volume, have been published by Seaforth Publishing:

  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603-1714: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (2009) ISBN 978-1-84832-040-6.
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714-1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (2007) ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.
  • British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (2005. Second edition in 2008) ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.

A fourth volume in this series, covering the period 1817-1863, is in preparation. Sailing warships after 1817 are covered in less detail by The Sail and Steam Navy List, 1815-1889, by David Lyon and Rif Winfield.


Reviewing the 1793-1817 work, the Journal for Maritime Research wrote that 'It is well-researched, well-presented, easy to navigate and exhaustive in its coverage. It is a reference work that will be used by students and scholars of the sailing Navy for years to come.'[1] When reviewing the 1714-1792 volume, the second work to be published, the South West Maritime History Society described it as 'frankly quite superb', and 'the most complete analysis of the ships of the Royal Navy ever prepared.'[2]

See also


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