|HMS Bellerophon, amid crowds of sightseers in Plymouth Sound, August 1815 with Napoleon Bonaparte aboard after his surrender - John James Chalon|
Perhaps alongside HMS Victory, there is a no more famous ship in the Royal Navy of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars than HMS Bellerophon or the Billy Ruffian as she was affectionately known.
With battle honours including those of three major fleet actions, The Glorious First of June 1794, The Battle of the Nile 1798 and Trafalgar 1805, together with service in the squadrons of blockade who patrolled through all weathers to clear the seas of the enemy by compelling them to either stay in port or risk battle by putting to sea, she served throughout the 'Great War' to the end, being the British ship that rescued a defeated Napoleon Bonaparte and saved him from the retribution of a Europe devastated by his war of conquest and tyranny.
As a symbol of Britain's 'Wooden Walls', perhaps there was no finer example or a more appropriate ship for Napoleon to be rowed out to between six and seven o'clock on the morning of 15th July 1815 off the French port of Rochefort, to offer his surrender to Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland RN, announcing;
"I am come to throw myself on the protection of your Prince and your laws."
"If it had not been for you English, I should have been Emperor of the east. But wherever there is water to float a ship, we are sure to find you in our way."
HMS Bellerophon was one of the ten ships of the modified Arrogant Class, 74-gun ship of the line, originally designed by the great British ship designer Sir Thomas Slade and launched on the 6th October 1786 at Frindsbury on the River Medway in Kent.
Named after the Greek hero Bellerophon who rode the winged horse Pegasus and slew the hybrid monster Chimera with a fire breathing head of a lion and a snakes head at the end of its tail, the name proved a difficult one for ordinary sailors to pronounce and thus she inherited her equally famous nickname 'Billy Ruffian'.
|HMS Bellerophon, seen here on the stocks at Frindsbury in Kent during her construction|
|The Spanish insult to the British flag at Nootka Sound 1789 - Robert Dodd|
|Sir Thomas Pasley seen here as a Rear Admiral in 1795 - Lemuel Francis Abbott|
|Bellerophon brings Revolutionaire to combat - Edouard Groult, The Glorious First of June 1794, Osprey|
|Captain Sir William Johnstone Hope|
|The opposing fleets close - Battle of the Glorious First of June|
|Lord Howes victory on the Glorious First of June 1794 - Thomas Whitcombe|
|Cornwallis's Retreat June 17th 1795 - Thomas Luny|
|The Inshore Blockading Squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson off Cadiz, June 1797, from left to right His Majesty's Ships, Bellerophon, Orion, Thesus, Colossus and Irresistible - Thomas Butterworth |
|Vice Admiral Francois-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers|
|The Battle of the Nile, 1st August 1798 - Nicholas Pocock|
|The Battle of the Nile, 1st August 1798|
|Captain Sir Henry D'Esterre Darby|
|The Battle of the Nile 1798 - Thomas Whitcombe|
L'Orient is depicted in the centre heavily on fire with the Bellerophon immediately behind, dismasted and drifting
|My picture of HMS Bellerophon's figurehead as displayed in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard|
|Captain John Cooke assumed command of HMS Bellerophon on the 24th April 1805|
|HMS Bellerophon, sandwiched between enemy ships at Trafalgar at the time her Captain, John Cooke was killed - Thomas Whitcombe 1805|
|My interpretation of L'Aigle as shown in my post from February|
|Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland|
|Captain Maitland's silver terrine|
|Bellerophon's speaking trumpet|
HMS Bellerophon was paid off on the 2nd September 1815 as the country together with the rest of Europe got used to a long term of peace following the carnage of the previous twenty-five years.
|Like many of her sisters, Bellerophon would end her days as a prison hulk before being broken up|