The ''Vulture''

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Captain Peter Duval


Vulture was one of the most successful privateers in the Napoleonic Wars, which started badly for Jersey. Commanded by Capt Peter Duval, she brought in 16 prizes from the Bay of Biscay between 1795 and 1798.


Capt Duval was a wanted man in the port of Bayonne, whose merchants had suffered badly from his success. They set a trap, disguising a brig of 180 tons with hidden firepower of 16 guns. Duval could not resist so seemingly easy a target and pulled alongside demanding their surrender. The French opened fire and missed.

What they had not taken account was the difference in height between the two ships. The Vulture was a small lugger of 100 tons, four guns and 27 men, the brig's guns fired over her head but the Vulture's cannon all scored direct hits on the French ship's hull. They were forced to withdraw, having only managed to inflict slight damage on the Vulture's rigging.


Vulture was still successful in 1812 when, commanded by Captain Francis Le Feuvre and accompanied by another privateer, Earl St Vincent, she captured an American vessel, the Snipe, which was attempting to run a blockade off the French coast at Bordeaux.

The Snipe's cargo was sold at public auction at L'Hotel de Deal in St Helier on 7 October. It consisted of:

  • 212 cases of white sugar from Havanna
  • 51 sacks of spices
  • 10 barrels of Rocou
  • 28 bales of cotton
  • 151 sacks of cocoa
  • 709 bales of coffee
  • 248 half bales of Bourbon coffee
  • 838 sacks of Java coffee
  • 389 sacks of coffee
  • 10 barrels of coffee
  • 205 sacks of pepper
  • 24 sacks of indigo
  • 146 bear skins

After the sale the 216-tonne ship itself was auctioned. The new owners renamed it the Mars and it also became a privateer. Under Captain Noe Le Sueur she captured the Speedwell, whose American crew were disgusted to discover they had been taken by a ship that not long before had been one of their own.

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