1707 – Battle at the Lizard
A battle involving the old foes, France and Great Britain, part of the War of Spanish Succession, a war that spread across the globe. Fighting was recorded in Europe, North America, and South America. The war was over a rather complex succession issue to the Spanish crown and escalated into a world war. On one side we had nations supporting the claim of Charles (known to his followers as Charles III), the English hoped to check and reduce the power of France who supported the claim of Philip V.
The global reach of the war meant that naval power was vitally important. The transportation of troops and supplies to the different war zones became increasingly dangerous, ships had to be wary of engaging enemy ships in battle and there was always the possibility of raids.
One such raid occurred off the Cornish coast near Lizard Point. On October 20, 1707, a large merchant fleet of 80 to 130 English ships left Plymouth for Portugal with supplies for the armies in Spain. Protecting the merchant fleet were five warships under the command of Richard Edwards. The next day saw the fleet move closer to Lizard Point, the southern tip of Cornwall, and the place where the first sighting of the Spanish Armada happened at 3 pm on July 29, 1588.
Two French squadrons of 6 ships each spotted the convoy and the aggressive French officer, Rene Duguay-Trouin led the attack. Duguay-Trouin was a brilliant privateer and capable of inflicting massive damage on the English fleet. Duguay-Trouin would also play an important role in another battle of this period at Rio de Janeiro in 1711.
The battle was an incredible success for the French. The victorious French took the 80-gun Cumberland and the 50-gun ships Chester and Ruby, the 80-gun Devonshire fought valiantly for several hours but the ship caught fire and blew up, only three men escaped from the 500 man crew.