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HMS Constance (1846)
John Turnstall Haverfield's painting of Constance in Esquimalt Harbour 1848
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Constance
Ordered: 31 March 1843
Builder: Pembroke Dockyard
Laid down: October 1843
Launched: 12 March 1846
Completed: 28 June 1846
Reclassified: Converted to screw frigate between 1860-62 at Devonport Dockyard
Refit: 1862
Fate: Sold for breaking up on 23 January 1875
General characteristics As ordered
Class & type: 50-gun Constance-class fourth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 2,125 75/94 bm
Length: 180 ft (54.9 m) (overall)
146 ft 10.25 in (44.8 m) (keel)
Beam: 52 ft 8 in (16.1 m)
Depth of hold: 16 ft 3 in (4.95 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 500

Upper deck: 28 x 32pdrs (10 x 8in/68pdr shell guns later replaced 10 x 32pdrs)
Quarter deck: 14 x 32pdrs

Forecastle: 8 x 32pdrs
General characteristics After 1860-62 refit
Class & type: 50-gun fourth-rate frigate
Displacement: 3,786 tons
Tons burthen: 3,212 bm
Length: 253 ft 11 in (77.4 m) (overall)
219 ft 2 in (66.8 m) (keel)
Beam: 53 ft (16.2 m)
Draught: 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m) (forward)
23 ft 7 in (7.19 m) (aft)
Depth of hold: 17 ft 1 in (5.21 m)
Propulsion: Sails
6-cyl. compound trunk engine, with surface condensers
500 nhp
2,301 ihp = 10.779kts.
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

HMS Constance was a 50-gun fourth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy launched in 1846. She had a tonnage of 2,132 and was designed with a V-shaped hull by Sir William Symonds.[1] She was also one of the last class of frigates designed by him.[2] On her shakedown voyage from England to Valparaiso she rounded Cape Horn in good trim, her captain for this voyage being Sir Baldwin Wake Walker, who commented "I think her a good sea boat, and a fine man of war". On the voyage she encountered a Hurricane at 62o south. Walker wrote that "nothing could have exceeded the way she went over it, not even straining a rope yarn".[3] In August 1848 her captain George William Courtenay, for whom the town of Courtenay was named,[4] led 250 sailors and marines from Fort Victoria to try to intimidate the Indians.[5] Her crew and officers were quarantined aboard whilst berthed at Port Royal on 26 October 1867 during an outbreak of Yellow Fever[6] In 1848 she became the first Royal Naval vessel to use Esquimalt as her base.[7]

In 1862 she was converted to screw propulsion using a compound steam engine[8] designed by Randolph & Elder.[9] She was the first Royal Naval ship to be fitted with this class of engine, and won a race against two frigates from Plymouth to Madeira in 1865.[10]


  1. Mariner's pp 64–68
  2. Brock p26
  3. Sharp p698
  4. Akrigg p54
  5. Gough p46
  6. times and gazette p467
  7. Akrigg p52
  8. Rankine p445
  9. Gardiner p174
  10. The Race p90


  • Brock, P. W. Greenhill, Basil Steam and sail: in Britain and North America: 80 photographs mainly from the National Maritime Museum depicting British and North American naval, merchant, and special purpose vessels of the period of transition from sail to steam Pyne Press, 1973
  • Sharp, James A. Memoirs of the life and services of Rear-Admiral Sir William Symonds Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans & Roberts 1858
  • Rankine, William John Macquorn Miscellaneous Scientific Papers: From the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal and Other Scientific and Philosophical Societies Adamant. 4 June 2001. ISBN 978-1-4021-7192-5
  • Gardiner, Robert Steam, steel & shellfire: the steam warship, 1815-1905 Conway Maritime Press. 20 June 2001. ISBN 978-0-85177-564-7
  • Akrigg, G. P. V. Akrigg, Helen B. British Columbia place names University of British Columbia Press; 3rd edition. 31 December 1997. ISBN 978-0-7748-0637-4
  • Gough, Barry M. Gunboat Frontier: British Maritime Authority and Northwest Coast Indians, 1846-1890 University of British Columbia Press. 1st edition. 1 January 1984. ISBN 0-7748-0175-1
  • Mariner's mirror The Mariner's mirror, Volume 73 Society for Nautical Research., 1987
  • The medical times and gazette John Churchill & Sons. 1867
  • The Race The annual of the Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Henry Sotheran & Co. 1871.

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