A great aunt of my wife had the unusual name of Kate Duguay-Trouin Jackson. She had the distinction (although not unique) of having been born on a British warship, HMS Implacable. Admittedly, in 1881, when she was born, the vessel was permanently moored in Plymouth Harbour and was being used as a training ship for naval cadets, but the ship had seen war service. Kate's father, Thomas Sturges Jackson (my wife's great grandfather), was the commander of the vessel and lived on board with his wife and family.
But HMS Implacable had started life as a 74-gun French vessel called the Duguay-Trouin - hence Kate's middle names. This ship had taken part in the battle of Trafalgar and it was one of four French ships that escaped from the battle that day. However, they were pursued by Sir Richard Strachan and captured about two weeks later, all four vessels then being taken back to England. The Duguay-Trouin was renamed HMS Implacable and saw active service in the remainder of the Napoleonic wars. She was retired from service in 1842 and then assumed other roles, including that of a training ship.
The condition of HMS Implacable slowly deteriorated and she ended up as a coal hulk, deemed too expensive to restore. She survived WWII but in 1949 the British government decided that she should be scuttled. She was offered to France, but the French government, still recovering from the costs of the war, refused to take her. So in December 1949, despite public protests, she was towed out to sea and blown up. She went down flying both the British and French ensigns.
In 1949 she was the second oldest ship in the British navy, after HMS Victory, and it's possible that had the government deferred its decision then someone would have set about a restoration project and she would still be here today. Fortunately some parts do still survive and the figurehead and stern galleries are on display in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
So that's the story behind the name Kate Duguay-Trouin Jackson! And to think that she could have been named Kate Implacable Jackson!
Dr Roger Parker
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