HMS Forward, 1855-1869
HMS Forward was a 4 gun, British-screw steam-vessel that, according to this despatch, was stationed on the Victoria and San Francisco route prior to 1860.1
The owners of the Forward were hoping to obtain the mail contract between Victoria and San Francisco, but the ship was withdrawn in 1860, due to its inability to compete with the Pacific Mail Steam Ship Company.
It appears that, from this document, and another, the Forward was converted to a gunboat. Forward and its sister-ship, Grappler, were converted for the sole purpose of duty on the Northwest coast and each had a crew of 40 men.2 Throughout its time on the West Coast, Forward undertook a variety of tasks, such as the transport of passengers and supplies, and it acted as a police-force vessel.
The editor of Daily Evening Express was held captive in the Forward’s lower deck and exposed to much verbal abuse for printing unflattering comments about the conduct of Commander Lascelles and the crew of the Forward during a policing mission.3 After several hours, the Forward set out to sea and the editor escaped by jumping overboard, nearly drowning before being picked up and dropped back on shore.4
In 1869, the Forward was purchased for $7,000 by Millard and Beedy of Victoria and from there was sailed, under the command of Captain Sutton, to San Francisco, where it was made again into a gunboat, whereafter it became a pirate ship under a Salvadorian flag.5 As a privateer, it was commanded by the infamous captain “Viscayno”, who used it to raid the city of Guayma and seize two ships, the San Pablo and the Colina.6 The Mexican government called in US and British ships to pursue the Forward and, eventually, this led to a full-blown gun-battle in the Teacapan River, which ended with the Forward run aground, its engines broken to pieces, and the ship burned to the water's edge.7
  • 1. Forward, Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels.
  • 2. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1977), 202.
  • 3. Ibid., 287.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. E. W. Wright, Ed., Lewis & Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (Portland: The Lewis and Dryden Printing Company, 1895), 176.
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ibid.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents
The Colonial Despatches Team. HMS Forward, 1855-1869. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/forward.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)