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Date Posted: 23:24:14 12/16/15 Wed
Author: John Houghton
Subject: Re: Swedish frigate in Egypt
In reply to: Chuck 's message, "Re: Swedish frigate in Egypt" on 10:07:08 12/14/15 Mon

On balance, Chuck, I think it is more likely this ship was a merchantman than a former Swedish frigate. Until we have definite evidence, of course, we cannot be sure but the year of purchase (1816) does not match the year of disposal for any Swedish frigate. Disposals in this period were: Diana 1802, Gripen 1810 and Thetis 1818 plus the small frigates Jarramas and Hector, both 1818 also. As far as I know these were broken up except for Gripen which was sunk off Karlskrona. (See Teemu’s website at http://koti.mbnet.fi/felipe/html/frigates_1700-1860.html) The next frigate disposed of was Chapman sold to Colombia in 1825 but rejected because it was in very poor condition.

The only source I know of that sheds any light on the question is Durand-Viel quoted earlier. He obviously found information somewhere about the purchase because he refers to it. He does not say what sort of ship it was but merely that a ship which became the frigate Asia was purchased in Sweden by Joseph Bokty (head of the Egyptian mission touring Europe) and ‘transformed’ in London. Nowhere in his research, therefore, did he find a record of the purchase of a former Swedish frigate. That research included Egyptian archives. This is not conclusive proof but no record of the sale of a former frigate to Egypt has been found in the Swedish archives either.

It also seems to me that an old warship would not be of great interest to the Egyptian governor Mehmed Ali or his agents. Mehmed Ali was trying to expand his merchant fleet and develop trade at this point rather than his navy (which followed later). He was an active trader himself and he encouraged his family, friends and other associates to follow his example. So it is even possible the ship was bought originally for trade although this is pure speculation.

To sum up, I think the ship the Egyptians purchased in Sweden was probably a merchantman and probably in good condition. I think such a purchase fits the evidence we have and the circumstances better than the alternatives. That is not to say that no alternatives are possible. I just think they are less likely.

John

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