Girish Mahajan

Governor Simcoe (1793 ship)

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Name  Governor Simcoe
Builder  Richard Cartwright
Notes  merchantman schooner
Governor Simcoe (1793 ship) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Namesake  John Graves Simcoe, first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada.
Launched  Kingston, 29 October 1793
Maiden voyage  Kingston to Niagara, 28 April 1797
Fate  Sold to Provincial Marine, March 1813

Governor Simcoe was a merchant schooner launched in 1793 that the Provincial Marine acquired in 1813 and named after the British naval officer Sir Sidney Smith. She saw service on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. The Royal Navy acquired her in 1814 and renamed her HMS Magnet, a few months before her captain had to blow her up to prevent the Americans from capturing her.

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Governor Simcoe

Governor Simcoe served the North West Company (NWC) fur trade on Lake Ontario from her launch at Kingston, Ontario, Upper Canada, in 1793. She was built for a group of merchants with ties to the North West Company, principally Richard Cartwright. As was common for most NWC ships at the start of the war, she was then likely hired out as a supply ship for the Provincial Marine and remained unarmed until a survey and refit in March 1813.

For some years prior to the outbreak of war, and for at least the first five months of the war, her captain was James Richardson (1759–1832), an ex-Provincial Marine Officer. "On the eve of the Battle of Queenston Heights on 13 October 1812 he delivered a shipment of gunpowder to Niagara and afterwards returned to York with prisoners and the news of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock’s death."

On her last merchant voyage, on 11 November 1812 Commodore Isaac Chauncey's United States Navy (USN) Lake Ontario squadron then patrolling off Kingston spotted Governor Simcoe and chased her. Governor Simcoe "evaded capture but ran too closely over a shoal and sank at its berth in Kingston from the damage it had incurred."

Sir Sydney Smith

Early in 1813, despite Governor Simcoe being the oldest vessel on the lakes at the time, the British acquired her (whether by purchase or hire). After a survey and extensive refitting in March 1813 she was renamed Sir Sydney Smith. Sir Sydney Smith was not a commissioned warship of the Royal Navy and so was not entitled to the prefix 'HMS'. She was under the command of Lieutenant G. Marjoribanks.

She set sail on 27 May 1813 with the rest of Commodore Yeo’s British Provincial Marine Lake Ontario Squadron. As Sir Sydney Smith she took part in attacks on Sackets Harbor and Oswego, as well as engagements against the USN on 10–11 August 1813. She also was briefly involved in a chase near Burlington, Ontario by the American schooner Julia.

HMS Magnet

The Royal Navy took command of all Provincial Marine vessels in 1814, renamed them, and replaced their crews with Royal Navy crews. Sir Sydney Smith was refitted as a brig and renamed HMS Magnet, the Admiralty not liking to name vessels after living people. Her captain was Lieutenant George Hawkesworth.

On 5 August 1814 she was carrying munitions from York to Niagara when Chauncey’s squadron arrived to block her access to safe anchorage on the Niagara River. Fearing capture, Hawkesworth drove Magnet ashore 10 miles (16 km) west of the mouth of the Niagara River, salvaged what munitions he could, and then set a fuse to destroy Magnet and the remaining cargo in an enormous explosion which observers said could be heard and felt at York - approximately 30 miles (48 km) across Lake Ontario.

References

Governor Simcoe (1793 ship) Wikipedia


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