In 1745, on this day the Doutelle and Elisabeth were attacked by the British sixty-four gun warship HMS Lion approximately one hundred miles off the southernmost tip of England.
Extraordinary TaleThe Royal Navy officers initially suspected that the two French ships were bound for North America but on closer inspection discovered that onboard was a tiny Jacobite invasion force led by the twenty-five year old Stuart pretender "Bonnie Prince Charlie". Artillery shorts were exchanged but the privateers were hopelessly outgunned and after a short struggle both quickly sunk with all hands lost. The French goal of creating an invasion threat that would force the recall of British divisions from Flanders was also sunk and with it went their long-standing dream of conquering the Austrian Netherlands.
Incredibly misinformed, the British government had been unsure of Charles' planned landing and the interception was a complete stroke of luck. On 5 June Norman MacLeod of Skye wrote to the Scottish Lord President, Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden, to ignore the "extraordinary tale" of Charles coming to the Highlands. On 15 July he wrote again to say that "as I've heard nothing further from any of these places, but peace and quiet, I think you may entirely depend on it, that either there never was such a thing intended, or if there was, that the project is entirely defeated and blown into the air". Aware of rumours of a Jacobite rising, Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, a son of George II and involved in fighting on the Continent, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle on 28 July: "I desire you, that if this pretended design of an invasion should continue, to let me come home with whatever troops are thought necessary, for it would be horrid to be employed abroad when my home was in danger, and really, should it be found proper to detach home to England troops sufficient to secure it, there will be none left to save this little scrap of country we still have here, of the Austrian Netherlands.