The Ranger and her prizes Cigali, Comte d'Artois, Santa Inez and Cantabre pen, ink and grey wash on laid paper 30.8 x 49.5cm (12 1/8 x 19 1/2in).
LITERATURE : Commander John Williams Damer Powell, Bristol Privateers and Ships of War, (Bristol and London, 1930), pp 281, 282.
The Ranger was one of Bristol's most successful privateers. She was an American frigate-built ship, weighing 200 tons, carrying 18 six-pounder guns and 2 swivels and had a complement of 110 men. In December 1778 she arrived in Poole with a prize, the Cigale, captured off St. Domingo and on her next cruise, with the frigate Minerva, she took the Comte d'Artois from Mauritius.
In a declaration on the 19th July 1779 by Captain Daniel Dale wrote : 'On 24th August, the Ranger, in company with the Liverpool privateer Amazon, Captain Charles Whytell, took the rich Spainsh ship Santa Inez from Manila to Cadiz, which was carried into Cork and eventually arrived at Bristol. Captain Whytell states that the prize mounted 2 eighteen and 12 nine-pounders, with about 150 men, and was taken after a two hours' action, in which she lost 33 killed and 14 wounded, mostly through an explosion. Apparently the Ranger 'kept aloof', and the Amazon being damaged, she boarded the prize first 'and received the captain's sword and papers, which they did not deserve.' The Amazon lost one man.
The Santa Inez is said to have been 'the most valuable prize taken since the rich Acapulco ship by the late Lord Anson.' Her cargo, which was sold in Bristol in February 1780 was valued at about £250,000 and consisted of 200 chests of sugar, 9 tons of black pepper, 90 tons of dyewood and a quantity of beeswax. The Santa Inez was sold at the same time being described as 'full frigate built, 700 tons, pierced for 30 guns on one deck, length of keel 128 ft, beam 34ft and built at Cadiz for the King of Spain. A zebra on board was advertised in the newspapers as - 'A beautiful zebra, remarkably tame and quite young, taken in the St Innis (sic), bound from the Manillas to Spain, a prize to the Ranger and Amazon privateers. Of all the exhibitions that ever were exhibited in this city the Zebra or Wild Ass, taken by the Ranger and Amazon on its passage to Spain has the pre-eminence; this most beautiful animal is visited daily by the first families in Bristol. The Zebra continues in this city this day and absolutely no longer as she will be removed to Bath on Monday next for the inspection of the curious.' (op cit)
The auction of the zebra took place on Monday the 17th January 1780, at the Exchange. The Bristol Gazette of the 20th states that the zebra was 'sold to Mr Astley of London'.
This was probably Philip Astley 1742-1814, who joined the cavalry, served in the Seven Years War and was a brilliant rider. Having retired from the cavalry, he decided to open a riding school and perform trick riding, at which he was a master. In 1768, Astley was performing at an event near Waterloo and rode in a circle, rather than in a straight line, as his rivals did, and thus chanced upon the format which was later named a 'circus'. His wife, Patty, soon joined him as a performer and as Astley put it 'One of my wife's best tricks involved circling the ring on horseback with swarms of bees covering her hands and arms like a muff'. He soon added a clown to his shows to amuse the spectators between equestrian feats. By 1772 he decided to add other equestrians, musicians, jugglers, tumblers, tighrope walkers and dancing dogs. He is thus described as the father of the modern circus. Astley, however, never used this title. He preferred 'Astley's Royal Amphitheatre', which was so famous that it was even mentioned by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen among others. The nurses' accomodation block of St Thomas's Hospital, London now stands on the site of the amphitheatre.
We are grateful to Jane Bradley of Bristol Reference Library and Kamila Reekie of the General Zoology Libraray for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.
The Cantabre was captured off Martinique.
In December 1781, it was reported that the Ranger, Captain Aselby, had been lost in the Gulf of Finland, when coming from Petersburg.