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The Mary Rose – a name to live up to

The first Mary Rose (1511-1545)

Mary Rose Battle honours

Armada 1588
Cadiz 1596
Lowestoft 1665
Four Days’ Battle 1666
Orfordness 1666
The Seven Algerines 1669
Sole Bay 1672
Schoonveld 1673
Texel 1673
Jutland 1916
Scandanavian Convoy 1917

What many people don’t realise is that the Mary Rose currently on display in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard wasn’t the last naval vessel to bear that name.


The second Mary Rose, launched in 1556, was a 39-gun galleon that took part in the fight against the Spanish Armada in 1588, as well as the Cadiz expedition (1596), the Azores voyage (1597) and the expedition against Spain (1599), where, like her predecessor, she was commanded by a Sir George Carew.

The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada, painted by the English School, 16th century.
Image from Wikimedia commons


Not much is written about the third Mary Rose, a 26-gun ship built in Deptford in 1623, other than that she was wrecked off the coast of Flanders 27 years later.


The fourth Mary Rose has even less said about it, other than it was a hired 32-gun ship that saw service between 1650 and 1654.



The Battle of Cadiz

The Battle of Cadiz, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar, an eyewitness
Image from Wikimedia Commons

The fifth Mary Rose, a fourth-rate frigate launched as HMS Maidstone in 1654, was renamed HMS Mary Rose in 1660 after the restoration of the British Monarchy. She lead quite an action packed life, winning seven battle honours, including the Battle of Cádiz  (1669, also known as ‘The Battle of The Seven Algerines’), a fight against seven Algerine frigates that were attacking a convoy off the coast of Cádiz in which six of them all took on the Mary Rose, which despite damage to her masts was able to fight them off for four hours before they retreated.

Sadly in 1691 her luck ran out when she was captured by the French in the West Indies, after 36 years of service, and indeed fought against the English in 1696.


The sixth Mary Rose was a 4 gun brig, Maria Rose, captured from the French off the coast of Acre in 1799 and renamed. Not much is written about her, other than she was sold in the 1800s


It was quite some time before the seventh Mary Rose, an M-class destroyer, was launched in 1915. She fought in the Battle of Jutland (31st May-1st June 1916), the largest naval battle of the First World War.

HMS Marmion, an M-class destroyer similar to HMS Mary Rose (1915)

HMS Marmion, an M-class destroyer similar to HMS Mary Rose (1915)
Image from Wikimedia commons

A year later, on 17th October,  1917, HMS Mary Rose was, with her sister ship HMS Strongbow, escorting an eastbound convoy when they encountered two German cruisers, the SMS Bremse and the SMS Brummer 65 miles east of Lerwick. Mistaking them for British light cruisers, the Strongbow allowed them to get within 3,000 yards, at which point they opened fire, knocking out her engines and radio. They then proceeded to sink nine of the twelve merchant vessels of the convoy. HMS Mary Rose, hearing the firing astern from her position at the front of the convoy, turned and fought the German vessels, but was also sunk rapidly. Of the fourteen ships in the convoy, only three survived.


The eighth Mary Rose was a fleet tender, purchased in 1918, then sold four years later. Nothing else is said about it, so it obviously lead rather a boring life.


HMS Mary Rose

HMS Mary Rose J360
Image via http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk

The ninth Mary Rose was an ‘Algerine’-class minesweeper, originally built in Canada as HMCS Toronto for the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943 but transferred to the Royal Navy and renamed shortly after. She saw service in the Mediterranean and the Far East, before being broken up in 1957.


Although there is currently no naval vessel bearing the name Mary Rose, the Basingstoke Sea Cadets are based in TS Mary Rose.


Will there ever be a tenth Mary Rose? Who knows what the future holds…

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