HMS Temeraire

Home Up Contents Search


There are some ship's names, like Ark Royal for instance, which the Royal Navy will never abandon. The current HMS Temeraire is a shore-based Physical Training establishment in Portsmouth - a reminder of the vessel which proudly sailed into the Battle of Trafalgar behind the Victory and which was immortalised by William Turner in his haunting painting of that historic ship on its last journey to the breaker's yard.

The Fighting Temeraire

The Fighting Temeraire

William Turner


HMS Temeraire, 1878

HMS Temeraire, 1878

In 1876, a new ship, powered by both steam and sail,  was launched with this name. It was the Navy's first state-of-the art Barbette Ironclad, capable of a speed of 14.7 knots and armed with four 11" and four  10" guns. 


Extracted from an article in the Illustrated London News

May 13 1876:

"Another new Ironclad was launched on Tuesday, but this time at Chatham Dockyard. The Temeraire was floated out of the dock in which she had been built at high water. Only the Lords of the Admiralty, with a small party of their friends was present; Mrs. Ward Hunt christened the ship. This new vessel is for sea-going purposes and is built on what is called the "barbette" principle. This system has been adopted for years in the French Navy, but has not been viewed, till recently, with favour by the Admiralty constructors. The Temeraire is therefore the first of her class in the Royal Navy.

The Temeraire will carry her armament of eight guns as follows: on the upper deck, two guns will be placed, one on the stern of 18tons, and the other, on the bow, of 25 tons. Each will have not only a commanding position, but practically will be able to sweep the horizon and give an all-round fire. On the main deck, the other guns will be placed and will consist of two batteries, adjusted for broadside use, three on each side.

As regards speed, it is expected that 14 knots will be easily attained, and her coal-carrying power is largely in excess of the normal power of ships of her size; but, being a sea-going vessel, she will have to depend greatly on her sail-power."


This then was the ship on which we find Stephen Stantiford* in the 1881 Census, at the age of 31. He must have been so proud to have been picked as a crew-member on such an important vessel, and he could have been forgiven for thinking that his father, who had been a Royal Marine, would have been proud of him.

Caroline, his mother, was Irish and Stephen had an older brother (John) and a twin brother called Maurice. Records of his father's death have not yet been found but in 1854, the mother and children had definitely fallen on hard times for they were living in Totnes Union Workhouse where Stephen's twin Maurice died on May 21st, aged 4.

Stephen served on HMS Temeraire as Cox of the Cutter - i.e. the shore-going boat which, in 1882, played a key role in what is called the Egyptian War.


Temeraire's powerful artillery was used to overwhelm the fire power at Fort Mex, in Alexandria. She went on to help attack Fort Pharos and Fort Moncrieff.

HMS Superb (Flagship), HMS Temeraire, HMS Lord Nelson and HMS Agamemnon going up the Dardanelles in 1882

HMS Superb (Flagship), HMS Temeraire, HMS Lord Nelson and HMS Agamemnon going up the Dardanelles in 1882

Sub-Lieutenant Bernard Currey (later Admiral Currey) served on HMS Temeraire in 1882.  He landed (presumably using the cutter) with a Naval Brigade from the ship who successfully took part in the decisive battle of Tel el Kebir.

Egypt was conquered and from this time on, for nearly 75 years, was under English occupation and control.


The Temeraire was paid off in 1901 and Stephen may have had another posting.  Personal service records exist for all sailors but they are difficult to obtain if you are not a direct descendent. 


Stephen would have been 64 when World War 1 began, (had he still been alive) and certainly would not have seen service in the revamped Temeraire which took part in the Battle of Jutland. After the War, she became a cadet training ship before being scrapped in 1922.


HMS Temeraire at her refit in Devonport Dockyard

HMS Temeraire at her refit in Devonport Dockyard - 1904

Steve Johnson


*Stephen's surname can be found with a variety of spellings

Back to Issue 8


Send mail to  with questions or comments about this web site.
  Last modified: