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 HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine 
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Plymouth Devon
Post HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
Firstly may I introduce myself, I am a retired RN Commander now writing books and this forum may well help me solve a fascinating riddle.
The HMS Rose I am referring to was the one in the Caribbean during the reign of terror circa 1794. She helped take the Islands of the Saintes from Guadeloupe and my research indicates she was wrecked on Jamaica in the summer of that year and all the crew survived.
She was commanded by Captain (Later a Vice Admiral) Scott. The reason I am interested is because in the National Maritime museum is a guillotine blade that is listed as: 'The Axe of a Guillotine, used by the French Republicans at Guadaloupe, in the West Indies, until it was cut down by Vice-Admiral Scott on the capture of the island in 1794. By that time upwards of fifty Royalists had been executed by it. – given by the Reverend M. Scott, M.A.'
However my research to date indicates that this cannot be correct. The Island had declared for Britain the previous year and in early 1794 a British force invaded and took the control. As I understand it the blade was taken to Guadeloupe by a Frenchman, Victor Hugues who actually armed the slaves on the Island and defeated the British in the early summer of 1794. The blade was only used after that so how on earth it came into Captain Scott's possession is a mystery. Even if he did have it why would it have not gone down with the ship when it was wrecked?
There is a serious reason for wanting to know about this, not the least for my book and the NMM are also keen to find out the truth. I have traveled extensively in the Caribbean and there is definitely a tension between the two french Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, even to this day, 'because the guillotine never made it to Martinique''.
So if anyone can help I would really be obliged, either with the story of the ship or the history of her Captain.

Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:41 pm
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Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:32 pm
Posts: 2960
Location: Hawaii
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
Welcome to the SN Forum Larryjc!

That's a very interesting story. I hope we are able to come up with some information.

What sort of details are you looking for, regarding Rose and Captain Scott?

I have the honour to be, &c.

Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:08 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Plymouth Devon
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
First and foremost I am trying to find the true story regarding the capture of the Guillotine blade. It clearly had a marked effect on the psyche of the two islands. The reality was that Guadeloupe was recaptured by the French but Martinique stayed in British hands for the duration of the reign of terror but the Guillotine seems to have become the focus of the time. I was there two years ago when there were riots and strikes in both French islands over living conditions and Guadeloupe was far more vociferous even to the extent of a shooting at one point.
To this end I seem to have two threads to follow. Captain, later Vice Admiral Matthew Henry Scott must have had a relative - the good Reverend who donated the blade originally to the RUSI museum some time in the early part of the last century (it was in their catalogue in 1928). So maybe the family still exists. (I would have posted this on the personnel forum but the button to add a new thread seems to have disappeared). I have tried various genealogy web sites to no avail although I think I know who the Reverend was. If I could find a living family member, maybe there is a story there. Alternatively if I could find a biography of the Captain or some sort of service record (I have tried the National Archive) then maybe I could piece it together.
Secondly the full story of the Rose might provide the clues I need. As I said I know she led the capture of the Saintes early in 1794 and seems to have been wrecked 0n 28 Jun at Rocky Point Jamaica. Any detail of her story again might give me the clues I need.
The more I look into this the more fascinating it becomes so if anyone can help it would be great.
As an aside the book I am writing is a novel and the second in a series about the Caribbean in modern and Nelsonic times. The original called 'Jacaranda' is available on Amazon as a Kindle book (sorry had to get the plug in!!)

Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:49 am
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Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:44 am
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Location: Fife, Scotland
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine gives some history of Mathew Henry Scott, with references. Cy, the webmaster, is well known on this forum. I do not know if this helps.

Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:57 pm

Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Plymouth Devon
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
Thanks another lead to follow - he didn't get to play with Rose for long though - joined in April and sunk in June !!

Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:24 pm

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
There is a potted biography in Marshall Vol. 1 Pt. 2. As Scott was a native of Jamaica with family on the island the guillotine could have been placed ashore there before the loss of the ROSE.

Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:31 am

Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Plymouth Devon
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
Excellent, I will look into that - still doesn't explain how it was 'liberated' before it was brought to the Island!!

Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:39 am

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Australia
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine
To save you looking it up here is Marshall's note on Scott:

Vice-Adm'iml of the Blue.
This officer is the son of an opulent Jamaica planter, of
which island he is a native. He entered the naval service
at an early age ; and in 1/93, we find him serving as Lieutenant
on board the Boyne, of 98 guns, bearing the flag of Sir
John Jervis, then about to proceed on an expedition against
the French colonies in the West Indies.
On the 24th Nov. 1793, the day on which the armament left
Spithead, an unfortunate accident befel Lieutenant Scott,
whose arm was broken by a block giving way in the fore part
of the ship, where he was stationed ; but happily, by the care
and skill of the surgeon, he was nearly recovered by the time
he reached Barbadoes.
Soon after his arrival at that island our officer was promoted
to the command of the Rattlesnake, in which sloop he
served at the reduction of Martinique and St. Lucia *.
On the 4th April, 1794, the day on which the latter colony
submitted to the British arms, he was posted into the Rose,
of 28 guns, and in that frigate assisted at the subjugation of
Guadaloupe. He afterwards accompanied a small squadron
under Captain Rogers, sent to take possession of the Isles
des Saintes, a service which was effected without loss, on the
10th of the same month. In the following summer the Rose
was wrecked on Rocky Point, Jamaica ; but fortunately the
whole of her crew escaped.
Captain Scott's next appointment was to the Hebe, of 38
guns, in which ship we find him serving at the re-conquest
of St. Lucia, by the naval and military forces under Sir
Hugh C. Christian and Sir Ralph Abercrombyf. The expedition
sailed from Marin Bay, Martinique, on the 26th April,
1796 ; and the disposition for landing the troops having been
previously arranged, the debarkation of two divisions was
speedily effected under cover of the ships of war. In the ex-
ecution of this service the Hebe led the first division into
Ance la Cap, and Captain Scott, with great spirit and judgment,
took a position opposite a 5-gun battery, placed on the
low point of Pigeon Island, which he kept in check, and
thereby enabled the troops to land without opposition.
After the surrender of St. Lucia, the Hebe was sent under
the orders of Captain Wolley, of the Arethusa, to co-operate
with Sir Ralph Abercromby in quelling the insurrections,
which raged with great violence and animosity in the islands
of St. Vincent and Grenada. The insurgents, after an obstinate
resistance, laid down their arms, and surrendered by
In the spring of 1798, Captain Scott obtained the command
of the Niger frigate ; and on the 11th Dec. following, whilst
lying at Spithead, had the gratification of contributing by
his humane exertions, to the preservation of three men belonging
to the Atlas 98 who had been upset in one of her
boats near the Niger. He subsequently removed into the
Indefatigable, of 46 guns.
Soon after the renewal of hostilities, in 1803, our officer
was appointed to la Diana *, in which frigate he continued
until the close of 1805. During the ensuing three years he
commanded the Dragon, of 74 guns. His promotion to the
rank of Rear-Admiral took place Aug. 12, 1812 ; and from
that period until the conclusion of the war, we find his flag
flying on board the Chatham, a third rate, in the North Sea
fleet. At the commencement of 1814, he commanded the
British and Russian seamen and marines landed on the island
of South Beveland ; and in the ensuing year the naval force
stationed in the Downs. His commission as Vice-Admiral
bears date Aug. 12, 1819.
The subject of this sketch married, June 4, 1799, the
eldest daughter of James Pinnock, of Westbury House, co,
Hants, Esq., and by that lady has had several children.
Residence .—Southampton.

He served in HEBE in the Windward Islands (but no mention of the Leeward Islands) at a slightly later date.

I know little of the political history of Guadalupe but I think the situation was rather confused from 1789 onwards - perhaps a guillotine managed to sneak ashore early :mrgreen: .

Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:39 am

Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:30 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Plymouth Devon
Post Re: HMS Rose 1794 and the Guadeloupe Guillotine

Many thanks for all that. I think I'm getting an idea of time lines now. The British attacked and took Guadeloupe bu April 20. The French sent a fleet to recapture it and landed on 2 June. On 7 June Victor Hugues seized Point a Pitre. Admiral Jervis then counterattacked but was repulsed in July. The brits finally left the rest of the Island in October. The only time I can find record of a Guillotine being set up is in October in Point a Pitre where between 27 and 50 people were killed. The only way I can see Captain Scott getting one is during the British counter attack of June but there was precious little time for him to take it and then end up wrecked on Jamaica by the end of the month. But maybe one was brought over and used straight away and then then they made another. It just gets more fascinating the more I look into it.

Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:40 am
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