Spanish galleons on the Pacific ca. 1750-1820?

Sep 2018
83
transitory
#1
I am hoping to learn a bit about Spain's use of galleons in the Pacific region (especially ships that visited the west coast of the Americas) during the period ca. 1750-1820.

From the overviews I read about the Manila galleon trade route, it seems those vessels were in use until the 1810s. I am curious, how was the design of Manila galleons ca. 1750-1810 different or similar to the ones used in the 16th and 17th century? And what happened to the surviving Manila galleons (if there were any) after this trade route dried up? Were they scrapped, recycled into other trade routes, sold, or taken over by other nations?

And aside from the Manila galleons, were there any other vessels of galleon classification that were under Spanish military or merchant use on the Pacific Ocean during the period 1750-1820? If so, I would be grateful for any information about those ships and their service history.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,890
Portugal
#2
I am hoping to learn a bit about Spain's use of galleons in the Pacific region (especially ships that visited the west coast of the Americas) during the period ca. 1750-1820.

From the overviews I read about the Manila galleon trade route, it seems those vessels were in use until the 1810s. I am curious, how was the design of Manila galleons ca. 1750-1810 different or similar to the ones used in the 16th and 17th century? And what happened to the surviving Manila galleons (if there were any) after this trade route dried up? Were they scrapped, recycled into other trade routes, sold, or taken over by other nations?

And aside from the Manila galleons, were there any other vessels of galleon classification that were under Spanish military or merchant use on the Pacific Ocean during the period 1750-1820? If so, I would be grateful for any information about those ships and their service history.


“Manilla Galleon” was a common designation of a trade route. This was already mentioned in this forum. It was not made by a sole galleon, it was made by a fleet that could have or not Galleons. The composition and the number of the ships of the fleet changed in time. Don't recall the last time a ship designated as "galleon" was used.
 
Sep 2018
83
transitory
#3
“Manilla Galleon” was a common designation of a trade route. This was already mentioned in this forum. It was not made by a sole galleon, it was made by a fleet that could have or not Galleons. The composition and the number of the ships of the fleet changed in time. Don't recall the last time a ship designated as "galleon" was used.
I'm sorry, I didn't see that mention on the forum. I am aware "Manilla galleon" was not a single ship, but I had thought this route was mostly used by vessels of the galleon type. From what you said though, it seems I'm wrong.

In any case, for the purpose of this thread I am only interested in vessels who fit the galleon classification.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,890
Portugal
#4
I'm sorry, I didn't see that mention on the forum. I am aware "Manilla galleon" was not a single ship, but I had thought this route was mostly used by vessels of the galleon type. From what you said though, it seems I'm wrong.

In any case, for the purpose of this thread I am only interested in vessels who fit the galleon classification.
Don’t need to be sorry, I knew and looked and didn’t find it. I looked because I was searching for an article that mentioned the types of ships used from the 16th century to the 19th. Can’t recall the title or the author, even if I think that it was in Spanish, but I posted it in one of those threads. If I find it I will repost it. I also have it in my PC, but probably in the wrong place with the wrong name…

EDIT:

Still didn't found it, but see Martin’s post #22

Ships of the 1500s
 
Last edited:

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,890
Portugal
#5
Just stepped to one that I posted last year (Who was 16th century leading world power? ), it is a short but interesting article: “El Galleón de Manila”, by Mariano Juan Ferragut, Capitán de Navío (R) http://www.armada.mde.es/archivo/mardigitalrevistas/cuadernosihcn/66cuaderno/cap02.pdf (in my PC was named as cap02.pdf, so it didn’t helped me much and is the same that Martin posted).

See page 10 for the kinds of ships used:

“Como quiera que los buques que realizaban esta travesía quedaban englobados bajo el rótulo del «Galeón», se ha incurrido en el error de creer que siempre se utilizó ese tipo de buque, cuando en este caso galeón se usa en sentido genérico. Los primeros buques eran naos, pero pronto fueron desplazados por galeones y, en algunos casos, por pataches. Los galeones se emplearon hasta finales de la década de 1730 —el último fue el Sacra Familia—, cuando fueron sustituidos por navíos, buques con mayor capacidad de carga y de ataque y defensa. Para este servicio se construyeron seis barcos de esta clase, y a partir de la baja del último navío del Galeón de Manila, la travesía comenzó a realizarse con fragatas hasta la desaparición de este monopolio en 1815. A título de ejemplo, señalaremos que durante el siglo XVIII sirvieron en la Carrera de Filipinas 7 galeones, 6 navíos, 3 pataches y 7 fragatas. El número total de buques que se emplearon lo largo de este cuarto de milenio fue de 108.”

Google translation:

"Since the ships that carried out this voyage were included under the label of the "Galleon", it was wrong to believe that this type of ship was always used, when in this case Galleon is used in a generic sense. The first ships were naos, but soon they were displaced by galleons and, in some cases, by pataches. The galleons were used until the end of the 1730s, the last being the Sacra Familia, when they were replaced by ships, ships with greater carrying capacity and attack and defense. For this service six ships of this class were built, and since the last ship of the Galleon of Manila, the voyage began to be carried out with frigates until the disappearance of this monopoly in 1815. By way of example, we will point out that during the century XVIII served in the Race of the Philippines 7 galleons, 6 ships, 3 pataches and 7 frigates. The total number of ships used during this quarter of the millennium was 108."

In the following page you have the number of attacks during the all period and in the page 13 you have the mention that the frigate “Magallanes” was the last one to make the route in 1815 when the monopoly ended.

So for your timeline you don't have Galleons anymore, mostly frigates.
 
Sep 2018
83
transitory
#6
Thank you Tulius for all of that information, it's very interesting to read about the evolution of ships used on the Manila galleon run. It makes sense to me why "galleons" fell out of use on this route after the 1730s, by that point they would have been becoming a fairly outdated ship type anyway.

I am still curious though, whether the end of "galleons" on the Manila galleon route means this ship type also fell out of use across the Spanish Pacific altogether, or if there are any later cases of the "galleon" type being used for other purposes in the period I have asked about?

For example in this article "List of shipwrecks in 1771" we find mention of 'Las Tres Puentes' (described as a galleon wrecked off the coast of Florida) and 'Nuestra Señora del Rosario' (also described as a galleon wrecked off Florida): List of shipwrecks in 1771 - Wikipedia

Obviously that is on the Atlantic side, but if these two were actually of "galleon" type, then it would indicate that some of this class were still operating in the second half of the 18th century. I don't know those two ships, so I can't say.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,890
Portugal
#8
The designation of the ships in the 16th and 17th centuries was quite loose, there was no standardization. Sometime a ship was called galleon in a source, nao in other and ship in other. For instance a Portuguese “nau” (often translated as carrack) in the 16th century was totally different from a Portuguese “nau” in the beginning of the 19th, when it was a ship of the line. But I don’t know much about the 18th century, so we would need help here.

Going for more generic entries, here Galleon - Wikipedia it mentions a notable galleon in 1794: “"La Galga" The Assateague Spanish galleon that shipwrecked in 1794 and according to legend the ancestors of the now famous Chincoteague ponies swam ashore.” No source is mentioned here.

In the case that you mention, the galleon “Las Tres Puentes”, the source mentioned is this one: SHIPWRECK LIST OF FLORIDA, so not exactly an academic site. I didn’t check all the ships but I also found another Spanish Galleons there:

"CHAVES - also called NUESTRA SENORA DEL CARMEN - Galleon (Upper Keys)
Sank in the storm of 1733. We have two positions for parts of this wreck in 8 to 12 ft of water. The vessel was of 221 tons.”

EL INFANTE - Galleon (Upper Keys)
Was one of the two major treasure galleons of the ill fated 1733 fleet. The ship was built in 1724, was 326 tons and carried 40 cannon.

EL NAUVA VICTORIOSA - Galleon (Dade)
Sank in the great storm of 1773. Wreckage lies in 25 ft of water.

EL POPULO - Nuestra Senora Del POPULO - Galleon (Upper Keys)
Sank in the great storm of 1773. State site file #8MO147. What you'll find here is scattered ballast and some timbers. There was one Pillar Dollar recorded as being found on the wreck, along with cannons and personal artifacts. Vessel was a 14 gun corvette.

EL SUECO DE ARIZONA - Galleon (Upper Keys)
Sank in the great storm of 1773. Wk lies in 13 ft of water."

And for instance, the Wikipedia article Spanish ship Santísima Trinidad (1751) - Wikipedia calls to the Santísima Trinidad (1751) a galleon, and was used in the Manila route, after the date given to us by the captain Mariano Juan Ferragut. The captain calls it a “navío” (literally “ship”). At a first sight I would tend to believe more in the captain of the Spanish navy than in the Wikipedia article. The Santísima Trinidad is a well known ship (well there were several).

I tend to find that the term galleon is quite loosely used for the Spanish ships in the age of sail, particularly in English. By the way the Manila Galleon was often mentioned as “China’s nao”

Do you read in Spanish? There is a “classic” book, from the beginning of the 20th century, “La Arquitectura Naval Española”, by Gervasio de Artíñano Y de Galdácano, that can be outdated in some aspects but that can still be a reference on this: La arquitectura naval española, and there we can see references to the galleons to the time period that you want, late of the 18th century. See page 187 and following in which the “navío” is mentioned as a substitute, and specifies some characteristics. Than in the Apendix 5, page 270, we have more explanations and a list of the designations used and a explanation for the use of Galleon. So maybe you can find some answers in this book.

A side note, less heavy, in English, is the Osprey book “Spanish Galleon 1530-1690”, by Angus Konstam, where he says: “Spanish galleons of the late16fh and early 17th centuries were adequately rather than generously provided with artillery, un like the sailing warships of the later 17th century, which were true ships-of-the-line.” p. 19. Angus Konstam is a historian expert in ships, but I don't know if he uses Spanish sources that are fundamental to use for the Spanish ships.
 
Likes: acix
Nov 2015
1,678
Kyiv
#10
It seems to me that although the construction of the Manila galleons was not the subject of major innovations, it underwent changes that were usual for the shipbuilding of that time. I mean 18-19cc.

For example, the stern and fore superstructures decreased in height. Triangular Lateen sail on the mizzen-mast became trapezoidal. The blind-stand on the bowsprit and the direct sail on it disappeared - instead of it, the bowsprit received a jibboom and triangular jibs and staysails appeared. The mars on the masts ceased to be round and received a direct trailing edge.

A third tier of sails appeared on the masts - t'gallnts. Studdingsails appeared - additional straight sails, which are placed on the sides of the main straight sails in a weak wind for the fore and mail masts, as well as slanting staysails between the fore, the main and mizzen-mast. And the heavy tiller on the steer was replaced in the 18th century by a convenient steering wheel.