Prince Rupert's Voyages, 1649-53

Royalist privateering in Ireland, the Mediterranean, the western Atlantic and the Caribbean

storm at sea

Prince Rupert's naval career began during the Second Civil War (1648) when he accompanied the Prince of Wales in an unsuccessful naval expedition against the Parliamentarians. The nucleus of the Prince's fleet was a number of Parliamentarian ships that defected to the Royalists during the naval revolt of 1648. After retreating from English waters, the Royalist fleet was blockaded by the Parliamentarian navy in the neutral port of Helvoetsluys in the Netherlands, where Rupert was appointed its admiral.

After the departure of the blockading fleet in November 1648, Rupert prepared his ships for privateering raids on English merchantmen. In December 1648, Rupert sent out Captain Marshall in the Roebuck and Captain Allin in the Guinea. They returned to Helvoetsluys early in January 1649 with prizes to help finance the fitting out of the squadron. Rupert also laid up the Antelope and sold her outdated brass cannon. Rupert's mother Elizabeth of Bohemia, sister of King Charles I, pawned jewellery to raise further funds.

With King Charles a prisoner of the Parliamentarians on the Isle of Wight, the Prince of Wales' court-in-exile at The Hague decided that Rupert's squadron should be deployed in southern Ireland from where it could take prizes for the benefit of the exiled Royalists and also support the military operations of the Marquis of Ormond, the King's lord-deputy in Ireland. Rupert set sail from Helvoetsluys for Kinsale in County Cork on 21 January 1649.