HMS Wager (1734)

Depiction of the wreck of Wager from an account by future admiral John Byron. Author unknown, believed to be in the public domain.

Ship Class
Ship Type

Launched in 1734, Wager was built as an East Indiaman, mounting thirty guns, and carrying a crew of ninety-eight. She made two voyages to the Far East under the East India Company, one in 1735-36, and one in 1738-39, before the Royal Navy purchased her in 1739. Wager was refitted as a 28-gun sixth rate frigate, and commissioned as HMS Wager. Assigned to transport arms and ammunition for Admiral George Anson's squadron that was departing to raid Spanish colonies on the Pacific coast of South America, Wager departed with the squadron in August, 1740. While sailing off the coast of Chile on 13 May, 1741, Wager was caught in a storm and driven ashore on what would become known as Wager Island. Upon the ship grounding, some of the crew broke into the booze and arms and began looting the ship. Most of them drowned the next day when the ship broke up. The survivors split into two groups and tried to reach a port from where they could return home. Only ten of her 300-man crew made it back to England, over five years later.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: somewhat by accident, Wager shared her name with the sponsor of the expedition that led to her loss, First Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Sir Charles Wager.