Falmouth Packet Archives 1688-1850
Sir William SYMONDS
FP 11/7/1829; " all HM Brigs employed as packets are to have Main masts reduced 4ft and main yards 3ft & sails in proportion, The solid tops to be removed & battened ones substituted in their place" The LYRA has already been fitted to the new plan, in Plymouth and alterations are going on in this port (Falmouth) on SPHYNX. - Was this a recommendation from Capt. Symonds, new Navy Surveyor, or Admiralty Board following loss of HEARTY 1827, REDPOLE 1828, ARIEL 1828 in which there were a total of 121 men lost, leaving 36 widows, 3 orphans and 91 fatherless children ?.
FP 18/2/1831: " The RHADAMANTHUS Steam Packet now building under the directions of master builder Mr Roberts of Plymouth, will as soon as launched be jury-rigged to Woolwich and have her engines fitted. 800 tons, to be commanded by a Commander with 2 Lieutenants under him.
[ See also: " Capt. Symonds to replace Sir Robert Seppings, Surveyor of the navy - 50 years in the civil employ of the Navy"]
FP 8/12/1832: Reported SNAKE lost with all hands in the North Sea and, like VERNON badly damaged in the same storms, was built to the new design of Capt. Symonds - who issued a vehement attack on the Falmouth Packet newspaper for mis-reporting the Loss of SNAKE and, by implication criticising his design.... in a report he considered malicious, which the paper responded came from a reliable source in Plymouth with no axe to grind regarding Capt Symonds... for the good of his reputation and the interest of readers, the Packet later printed a list of all ships built to his plan, and a substantial list of more being built!
FP 12/1/1833: PANDORA packet under construction Woolwich DY on principals of Capt. Symonds. (appointed Navy surveyor 4/1832) also PANTALOON 10, purchased off Duke of Portland & built by Capt. Symonds. (Navy Surveyor w.e.f. 4/1832)
FP 18/10/1833: Portsmouth; CHALLENGER 28-gun Capt Symons, proceeded to sea for 2-3 days experimental trials with VESTAL 26, Capt W Jones, RAPID Brig, Lt Patten & PANDORA Lt. Croke - a new packet built by Capt. Symonds. On the VESTAL Admiral Sir Thomas Williams hoisted his flag & Sir James Graham bart., First Lord of the Admiralty and Capt. Symonds, the Surveyor of the Navy (& builder of PANDORA) were on board that vessel.
FP 30/10/1833: VESTEL sailed on Sunday for West Indies, in company with RAPID & PANDORA Brigs as far as Falmouth - put into shelter Portland 1 night due to weather.
FP Sat 9/11/1833: PANDORA, Lt. Croke, sailed this morning for Jamaica, (due back 16 Feb 1834 - arrived 21/1/1834 on freight $45,000 and 5 passengers.)
FP 23/11/33: Portsmouth Admiralty intelligence, PANTALOON 10-gun, Lt S.C.Dacres will sail in a day or two with despatches for the Mauritius
FP 14/12/33: Brig Pantaloon arrived Falmouth & awaits despatches to Mauritius. (PANTALOON, Lt. Dacres, took Lisbon Mails on 25/12/33, Returning to Falmouth 17/1/34, and again 28/1/34 & returned 20/2/34.)
Question Re: s.s. SPITFIRE (1834), commander Lt. William Henry Symonds - was he related to Capt. William Symonds?
FP 21/1/1834: No better proof can be given of the superiority of the station of Falmouth - PANDORA actually made her voyage to West Indies & has returned - while scores of vessels to the Eastward have for more than 2 weeks before PANDORA sailed, and ever since detained in the Channel are now lying in our harbour for a change of wind. The new Packet PANDORA proves to be a fine vessel of her class, her sailing qualities may be fairly described as of the "Flying" order, during her passage home she accomplished as much as 250 miles in 24 hours.
FP 3/1/1835: Contains Ref. to Mediterranean mail on steamers " on the new construction" (reference to Capt. Symonds, Navy Surveyor 4/4/1834, in PANTALOON, PANDORA, PIQUE etc..)
FP 3/10/1835: Falmouth, steamer FIREBRAND arrived with Rear Admiral Sir W Parker & Sir C. Adam, Lords of the Admiralty, & Capt. Symonds, surveyor of the navy, inspected packets in the harbour, including PANDORA, the victualling stores at Mylor & then to Plymouth.
PANDORA was built on Capt (Sir William) Symonds plan and had just completed her third voyage, all three much quicker than scheduled.. the Admiralty had been comparing sailing abilities of his PANTALOON with WATERWITCH. Results; almost equally fast.
FP 27/12/1835. PANTALOON (build by Capt Symonds) in sea trials against WATERWITCH, bought in from the Earl of Belfast, results equal.
FP 9/4/1836: Lt. Christopher Smith to STAR under repair Plymouth, damage 24/11/35 en route to Halifax, "she is one of the ships built by contract upon the plan of Capt. Symonds (The Navy Surveyor). [see 9/2/1839] From the position the STAR was in, it appears almost a miracle she did not founder, if her masts had not gone over the board, she must inevitably have been lost. The sea made a clear sweep over her deck & carried away everything, it will be necessary to replace about 20 of her top timbers and other repairs of a serious nature"
FP 15/10/1836: Portsmouth 12/10, Experimental Squadron. On 27th September, PANTALOON shipped a sea which nearly sent her to the bottom and she was compelled to bear up. PIQUE found miserably deficient in sea qualities, pitches her forecastle under, lays over 11 degrees without top gallant sails, she is fitted with a self regulating index - a creation of a friend of Sir William Symonds (the Navy Architect - once she was over 30 degrees , with a compliment of 300 men on board!
FP 31/3/1838: It was not in our power last week to say more than that HM Brig RANGER, Lt J H Turner, had been got off the rocks. A beautiful brig of 350 tons burthen, built by contract in the summer of 1835 from the plans of Sir William Symonds (The Navy Architect) and has been sailing upwards of 2 years as a packet. On 2/3/38 Mr Spiller, Asst. Builder from Plymouth shipyard and 30 men, by means of the mechanical powers of screw & wedge, skilfully arranged the vessel was supported whereby she could sustain no injury, then, day by day, almost imperceptibly propelled at low water over the rocks the astonishing distance of 285 feet. On the 23rd, at high water, easily hauled off and taken alongside the Mylor Dockyard, on 27th towed to moorings in Carrick Roads and is now ready to proceed to Plymouth. Sir William Symonds may turn round on his host of envious maligners and point to RANGER, laying 36 days on sharp-pointed rocks, exposed to repeated gales and heavy seas and yet is at last dragged off with no great injury than 3 weeks of DY repair. The RANGER'S superior construction alone saved her from going to pieces as such pointed rocks must have gone through a round-bottomed vessel.
FP 21/4/1838: Pleasure in saying the new packet PENGUIN, built at Pembroke to the plan of Sir W Symonds, is said to be a beautiful model of Naval architecture. Her accommodation for passengers are of the first rate style, her cabins fitted with the mahogany from the GIBRALTAR, recently Broken up. The PETEREL, a packet of the same model as PENGUIN, will be launched in the same yard next month.
FP 9/2/1839: The STAR brought over more passengers than has ever been previously known from Halifax. On leaving harbour the STAR was cheered from the wharves - the growing mercantile intercourse which is between Nova Scotia and mother country.. the Province was perfectly tranquil. Mr Sam CUNARD sailed as passenger on STAR, Lt Christopher Smith, with a large party of 28 from Halifax, to loud cheers when sailing on 8/12/38, and made safe passage in only 16 days. A dinner and presentation was made for the Captain in Falmouth.
FP 14/1/1843: notes on Sir William Symonds (re Archimedes Screw propulson)* - see below
Naval Intelligence: Portsmouth January 11. 1834:
The ROVER 18, Commander C. Keele, from the North American and West Indian stations, arrived at Spithead on Saturday. Left Bermuda 20th December, and made her passage home in 18 days - only two days more than the time allowed for the mail packet steamers. The ROVER has been in commission four years and four months, and by her excellent qualities as a sea boat will add to the reputation of her builder, Sir W. Symonds.
FP 13/6/1846: Thomas M C Symonds, (son of Sir William Symonds) appointed as Captain of HMS SPARTON.
* The Lords of the Admiralty made slow progress in adapting the screw for the Royal Navy. Sir William Symonds, the surveyor and principal designer of Her Majesty's ships, was opposed to all new projects. He hated steam power, and was utterly opposed to iron ships. He speaks of them in his journal as "monstrous." So long as he remained in office everything was done in a perfunctory way. [qf: The Project Gutenberg Etext of Men of Invention and Industry, by Samuel Smiles. November, 1996 [Etext #725] ]