First Royal Yacht of the Royal Navy
HMY Mary was the first Royal Yacht of the Royal Navy. Built in 1660 by the Dutch East India Company, she was purchased by the City of Amsterdam and given to King Charles II, on the restoration of the monarchy, as part of the Dutch Gift.
Whilst on a regular journey across the Irish Sea, en route from Dublin to Chester, HMY Mary struck struck rocks on the south-west corner of The Skerries off Anglesey in thick fog on 25th March 1675. The ship soon capsized and sank, and of the 28 crew and 46 passengers, only 39 scrambled ashore to be rescued two days later.
The remains (bronze cannon) were independently discovered by Chorley Sub Aqua Club and the Merseyside Sub Aqua Club in July 1971. After looters started to remove guns from the site, a rescue operation was organised and the remaining guns and other artefacts were taken to the Merseyside Museums for conservation and display. Merseyside Museums now have over 1,500 objects from the Mary, including cutlery and jewellery. A model of the Mary is also on display. After the passing of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, she was designated as a protected site on 20th January 1974.
Type: 3-pounder gun
Gunfounder: George Browne
Shot: 3 pounds
Distinctive markings: Charles II Royal cypher.
Ship: HMY Mary
Discovered: 1971 off Anglesey
Current Location: Liverpool Maritime Museum
Photos: Ruth Rhynas Brown
Notes by Ruth Rhynas Brown
“After the death of old John Browne, the business casting bronze and iron guns passed to his grandson, John. As he was too young to run it himself, his uncles Thomas Foley and George Browne did most of the work. With the Restoration of Charles II, George took over the main part of the gunfounding business, reclaiming the family title of Royal Gunfounder. George handed over the business to his nephew John Browne III in 1670. John died a few years later and his widow eventually was declared bankrupt. The last bronze piece cast under the Brownes was in 1683.
One of the first guns cast for Charles II were the guns for the royal yachts. One set of these survived, because the Yacht Mary sank off Anglesey. She was found by divers and the material is now in the Maritime Museum in Liverpool. This 3 pounder was cast in 1661.
I have never found any surviving bronze guns by John Browne III, or Mary his widow. Perhaps one will turn up one day.”