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Articles from the Isle of ManPart 2 of 2

Manx Seafarers at War 1689-1815

The Tyger: Ill-fated Manx Privateer by Chris Pickard

Copyright – Chris Pickard

A group of Douglas merchants were caught in this fever when they fitted out the privateer Tyger.

The principal owners of the Tyger were John Joseph Bacon, Hugh Cosnahan, Robert Heywood and Lewis Geneste.

Her master was Richard QUALTROUGH who, like the owners, was very experienced in the shipping business.

The Tyger made two cruises, both equally unsuccessful. In December 1778 she was lying in Ramsey Harbour preparing to leave for a cruise to the West Indies. She had a crew of 45 and was well equipped. She was armed with 14 four pounders, 6 swivel guns, 8 barrels of powder, 30 rounds of great shot, 2cwt of small shot, 40 small arms and 40 cutlasses. She was victualled for 10 months and had two suits of sails with a ton of cordage and three anchors with cables.

The principal members of her crew were: mate William QUALTROUGH, gunner John Smith, bosun John Thomas, carpenter Richard Ware, cook John Seatle, surgeon Tim Piper.

Even while she was lying in Ramsey, Richard Qualtrough had his eye on capturing a large smuggler lying alongside. The smuggler slipped away in the night. The Tyger set sail for the West Indies and after being caught in a most dreadful storm, fell in with and captured the Dutch galliot De Jong Jesie Wittweende Lemmer. Her master was Heeres Ankses and he was on a voyage from Bordeaux to Dieppe with a cargo of 289 hogshead of tobacco.

The Tyger returned to Douglas with her prize and was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. The owners’ delight soon turned to despair as the Governor declared the capture illegal and the owners were brought to the High Court of the Admiralty and ordered to pay Captain Ankses compensation.

This incident reveals how inadequate 18th century communications were. Richard Qualtrough’s error was probably one of bad timing rather than incompetence, in that he anticipated the impending Dutch War prematurely.

The following summer Tyger set off on another cruise and three days later she fell in with the British fleet off the Scillies and was brought in by the Romney, commanded by Captain Johnstone. Johnstone tried to make the crew volunteer for naval service and on their refusal impressed the entire crew except one. Richard Qualtrough unable to navigate the vessel, returned to Douglas, where the 250ton Tyger was sold at a loss of more than 2000pounds.

The owners tried to obtain compensation with an attempted lawsuit against Captain Johnstone, but legal opinion was unfavorable and the case did not come to court.

© 2021 by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough. 

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© Copyright by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough.