HMS Curlew was the mercantile sloop Leander, launched at South Shields in 1801. The Royal Navy purchased her in 1803 and named her Curlew as there was already a HMS Leander (1780) in service, and the Curlew name was available. Curlew was a sloop of 16 guns. The Navy sold her in 1810.
Leander first appears in the Lloyd's Register for 1803 (reflecting data for 1802). That lists her master as G. White, her owner as A. Tulloch, and her trade as London—Demerara. Lloyd's Register also gives Leander's burthen as 355 tons (bm) Leander also appears in Lloyd's Register for 1804 (reflecting data for 1803), which repeats the information from 1803.
Between July and 27 September 1803, Curlew was at Deptford being fitted for naval service. Commander James Murrey Northey commissioned her in August for the North Sea.
On 2 April 1804 Curlew, sloop of war, reportedly sailed from the North Seas station with a squadron, and store ships, to Boulogne. Two days later, Curlew recaptured Stert, of Cardiff, William Pettigrew, master. Pettigrew reported, when he reached The Downs, that the privateer that had captured him off Dungeness had that same day taken nine vessels that she had sent to Dunkirk.
Early in the year the Naval Chronicle noted that Curlew was "At present with the North Sea convoy." During the year Curlew escorted convoys and captured vessels, and performed errands.
In 1805 Curlew escorted a convoy to Newfoundland.
Between October 1806 and September 1807, Curlew was at Sheerness, undergoing fitting out. Commander Thomas Young replaced Northey in November 1806, commissioning Curlew for the North Sea.
On 13 October 1807, Abraham Lowe was promoted to Commander into Curlew, an appointment that the Admiralty confirmed. Lowe had served as First Lieutenant to Admiral Gambier in Prince of Wales at the second battle of Copenhagen. However, the appointment only lasted until December of 1807.
Between June 1808 and April 1809, Curlew was at Woolwich, fitting out for the Baltic. It is not clear where Curlew was or who her commander, if any, was between December 1807 and June 1808.
In late 1808 Commander John Tancock returned from the West Indies after an attack of yellow fever; he had been captain of Saint Christopher. In April 1809 Tancock assumed command of Curlew on the recommendation of Sir James Saumarez.
Under Tancock's command, Curlew protected British trade to and from Malmo and Gottenburg through the Sound. During this service, her boats captured seven Danish vessels carrying provisions to Norway. Five of these were:Ingeberg Regina
Castrup (same date)
Sloop, Name unknown (25 October)
Earlier, Curlew had captured, on 14 and 15 October, Hoffnung and Jussrow Margaretha. These two vessels may be Hoffnung and unknown named sloop in the list above.
On 10 November Curlew captured another Danish vessel of unknown name.
After Curlew returned from the North Sea she was found to be defective and was paid off. The Principal Officers and Commissioners of His Majesty's Navy offered "Curlew Sloop, lying at Sheerness", for sale on 25 June 1810. She sold there on that day.