Lt Joseph Dewsnap

I'm researching my four times great grandfather - name as per the thread title. I know that he was christened 23rd November 1776 at Woodstock, Ox. I have been fortunate enough to obtain copies of some records from the Admiralty archives including his promotional warrant to Lieutenant (26th June 1799) and a list of ships that he served on. He did not serve at Trafalgar as he had already been severely wounded in 1803 whilst boarding a Spanish brig. He was subsequently hospitalised at Greenwich, had all his children christened there and was on the navy list until 1837.

I have even been able to obtain his last will & testament.

I'm trying to do a little more research into some of the vessels on which he served namely...
Sheerness tender
Pygmy Cutter (wrecked in Bigbury bay)
Sheerness tender (on impress service)
and finally the sloop Busy on which he received his injuries.

It''s the sheerness tender I'm a bit confused about. Presumably this was a 'job' that nominated vessels would undertake - he was on the one beteewn 1793 and 1795. Would antone have any idea if this vessel actually had a name?!? Help greatly appreciated - virtual wets are on me!!
I may have found out a little bit about HMS Busy:

HMS Busy, Royal Navy

Propulsion: Sailing Ship
Date Built: 1797
Builder: Graham, Harwich

18 Cannons

Weight (Tons): 337 bm
Dimensions: 96x29 ft

Captain: Richard Keilley

Foundered during February 1807 on Halifax station. All lost.


Lantern Swinger
Go to the following webpage,(National Archives)

Word or Phrase --put in ships name ONLY , but not HMS.
Range of dates-- whatever you need,probably 1799 to 1803.
Department -- ADM

You will then get a listing of ships logs, muster lists and any correspondence.
You can go and look at the actual documents.

The muster lists when searched should give date of joining and departure.

Also do an "advanced" Google Search
Also an "advanced " Google book search
Also look in copies of Steels Navy list, which was published at least twice yearly and will give which ship at the time of publication.

Also he is mentioned in "Memoirs of A Bengal Civilian", by John Beames.
look on Used Book Search website & you will get a S/h copy for a pound or so.

Quote from this
"Among these was a certain Lieutenant Joseph Dewsnap, a big, burly, fair-haired, red-faced, hearty old sailor who had seen much active service before his career was cut short by a bullet in the shoulder at the battle of Cape St Vincent." This battle was 14 Feb 1797


Lantern Swinger
The Sheerness ( tender) mercantile brig,launched 1786,by Francis Wilson at Sandgate,58 ft LOA ,21ft -10" beam ,10ft draught, 148 tons.
4 x 3 pounder guns, 6 x half pounder swivel guns.
Purchased 1788,fitted as a tender at Woolwich yard, August to November 1788, Registered 18/6/1789.
Broken up 1811.
This is from a book " British warships in the age of sail" by Rif Winfield.

PM me with an email address .There is similar info on Monarch, Latona & Romney, but more detailed . I can scan & send


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Impress Service sounds like a precursor to AFCO .. but not so well mannered, careers advice was a bit cursory. Could well be the sort of job given to a Lt unfit for sea service.
Massive thanks alround!! What a mine of's open everyone!! I like the bit in the book...wonder if it's the right list will reveal all I imagine - can't be many Dewsnaps about... 8)

What do you reckon the "Sheerness tender (on impress service)" was?

I was reading something about these tenders last night.
soleil said:

What do you reckon the "Sheerness tender (on impress service)" was?

I was reading something about these tenders last night.
Hi Sol - at this time I'm unsure - I know there was a vessel called 'wildfire' that was the Sheerness tender for a while so I assume that sheerness tender is some form of 'posting'. This year's tender will be xxxx if you see what I mean. Bit vague at the moment I know but I'm sure I'll get there...I have to tread carefully as he was also on HMS Sheerness (44 guns) which took part in the siege of Dunkirk and served under Admiral McBride and Captain Lord Vise-Garlies. Later he was on 'Sheerness tender' under the command of Lt William Milner working off the Irish coast on 'Impress service' (old fashioned recruiting!)


Lantern Swinger
Polto said:
What do you reckon the "Sheerness tender (on impress service)" was?

Sheerness tender , the way it is written is as a form of admiralty record keeping notation.

For example Kestrel sloop, ie ship Kestrel that was a sloop rigged ship.
So Sheerness tender, actually means the ship named Sheerness that was on tender duty, and in the impress or Press gang service.

Press gangs typically with a Lt in charge.
Thank you, Nobby, that fits in with what I was reading on a website last night:

"Tenders were small vessels which carried recruits and pressed men from the various small recruiting rendezvous to the major fleet anchorages (ie Portsmouth, Plymouth etc).

Once there, they were transferred temporarily to Receiving Ships, which were clapped out ships-of-the-line with no other purpose but accommodation.

They were then sent to ships in commission as required, where they were mustered and rated, and where their naval service officially began."

"The tenders and the receiving ships were in effect floating prisons. Men had to be closely guarded because, until they were mustered on the ship which was their ultimate destination, they were not technically members of the RN. Thus, if they managed to escape, they had not committed a crime -desertion didn't apply until they had signed on."
As Nobby says, there was a tender called HMS Sheerness, armed with four 3 pdr guns, which was purchased on the stocks by the Admiralty on 6 Aug 1788 and broken up in 1811. College's Ships of the Royal Navy also mentions another tender called HMS Sheerness, armed with ten guns, which was purchased in 1791 and possibly sold in 1810.

These 'tenders' appear to have been ship types in their own right (e.g. pilot tender) rather than a ship or unit subordinate to a parent ship, nominal depot ship or shore establishment or responsible for looking after auxiliary units (e.g. seaplane tender).

A description of the Impress Service is provided here:
The Impress Service
The organisation at the ports charged with obtaining seamen was known as the Impress Service. The Impress service was limited to seizing men who were seamen, a word given a broad interpretation. The age limits were set at 18 to 55 years of age, frequently these limits were ignored. The word 'press' itself was a corruption, in regular use at the end of the Eighteenth Century, of the word prest. It came from the old French prest which was a loan or advance. A man paid the Kings shilling to enlist became an imprest or prest man.

The Impress Service covered every port in Great Britain. Each major port had a captain in charge, while smaller ports had a lieutenant. These officers were rarely seagoing men, and often this was the only alternative to being on half pay. The senior officer was known as the Regulating Officer, and the headquarters chosen was called the Rendezvous. Having set up the Rendezvous, the Regulating officer would then hire some of the local hard men as 'gangers', to form the Press Gang (on land the press gang was rarely formed by sailors)...
sgtpepperband said:
Polto said:
...'Impress service' (old fashioned recruiting!)
(See my link: :thumbleft:
Just found this on your link SPB - I recall seeing the same poem in the S/R's mess on the submarine Walrus...1979..
"The time has come" the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things",

"Of shoes and ships & sealing wax",

"Of cabbages and kings",

"Of why the sea is boiling hot",

"And whether pigs have wings".

Always wondered where it came from...


Lantern Swinger
The Press gangs were established for each occasion, "under warrant"

The Admiralty out letter book for HMS Boyne, 1770, Captain Burnett,states he is being sent ," Press Warrants and instructions to Captains and Lieutenants, as previously referred to on 22nd Oct 1770"
The number of warrants he was sent numbered 5.
Presumably then he could send out 5 gangs ??, not sure of that though.
Polto said:
re- Walrus

......... "To talk of many things", etc............

Always wondered where it came from...
Straying way, way off topic but to aid Polto's researches:

<<"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll that appeared in his book Through the Looking-Glass, published in December 1871. The poem is recited in chapter four, by Tweedledum and Tweedledee to Alice. The poem is composed of 18 stanzas and contains 108 lines, in an alternation of iambic trimeters and iambic tetrameters.>>

ALL of the Alice stories are cracking tales, strewn with the craziest loveable characters, you'd be impressed :wink:

Required reading for all chillen, gran-chillen AND AIB Candidates.

If they have somehow passed you by then see here:'s_Adventures_in_Wonderland

I really must let you get back on topic - For: 'tis brillig and the slithy toves do gyre and gimble in the wabe......

:D Bob

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