Hancock, the

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Hancock, the

HANCOCK, THE. The Hancock was one of the first thirteen frigates of the Continental navy, authorized by Congress on 13 December 1775. It was built at Newburyport, Massachusetts, by John Greenleaf, based on a design by Joshua Humphreys. Placed under the command of Captain John Manley on 17 April 1776, it was launched on 10 July 1776 and spent the next ten months fitting out. It sailed from Boston in company with the Continental frigate Boston on 21 May 1777. The two frigates captured HMS Fox (twenty-eight guns) on 7 June. Both the Fox and the Hancock were captured by HMS Rainbow (forty-four guns) and HMS Flora (thirty-two guns) on 8 July, after a twenty-nine-hour chase. The Hancock was taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Iris and earned a reputation as one of the world's fastest and finest frigates. On 8 August 1781, the Iris captured the Continental frigate Trumbull off the Delaware Capes. The Iris was captured by the French in the West Indies on 11 September and used as a cruiser. When the British took Toulon in 1793, they found her dismantled and used as a powder hulk. The Royal Navy blew her up on 18 December as the British evacuated Toulon.

SEE ALSO Manley, John; Trumbull-Iris Engagement.


Naval Historical Center. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Vol. 3. Washington, D.C.: Naval History Division, 1968.

Silverstone, Paul H. The Sailing Navy, 1775–1854. The U.S. Navy Warship Series. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2001.

                                        revised by Harold E. Selesky