Helmsman graphicMonitor graphicHelmsman graphicThe Cozens/Byrnes Merchants Networks Project - Updated 27 March 2012

You can find an article in a timeframe near this in the file on Joseph Noy, Shipbuilder for Peter the Great.

More on British Shipbuilders

Richard Cozens

English Shipwright to Peter the Great

By Ken Cozens

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According to Oppe's 1952 book (Note1), Richard Cozens (1674-1735) was born in South Hampshire in 1674, although Oppe himself was not able to find any birth record for him as he conducted his own researches.

It has also been stated since from a reliable Russian source, (Note2) that it is recorded that Richard Cozens was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 29 May, 1674.

Although no documentary evidence has been found to date to either prove, or disprove this, that there was a connection between Joseph Noy and Richard Cozens during their early years spent in Hampshire, there is strong evidence to suggest this was the case.

The two may well have indeed both worked together on the building of ships at East Cowes, (Note3) before then proceeding to London, where they were eventually to sign up for the Russian service of Peter the Great. Printed below is a translation of an extract taken from a Russian account of how Richard had joined Peter’s Russian service. Although, we must take this as coming from a more general” account until the facts described can actually be substantiated further through Russian archives, it does provide some possible explanations:

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During his stay in England Peter the Great was greatly impressed by the acquaintance of [a] highly intelligent English sailor, Admiral Carmarthen, who was solidly erudite in the theory and practice of shipbuilding. Following his advice Peter studied at the English Royal Shipyard in Deptford. Here the English Admiral introduced him to several of its shipwrights. He especially liked three of them – John Den (Deane), Joseph Nye (Noy) and the youngest of them Richard Cozens. He succeeded in persuading Deane and Noy to sign agreements to come to Russia immediately, whilst Cozens promised to think over the Czar's offer further... in 1700 Cozens signed a contract with a Russian agent in London. He soon came to Voronezh, then 26 years old; Richard Cozens was then two years younger than the Russian Czar.”

(Translated extract taken from the Russian text of: Peter's Shipwrights, by Israel Adolfovich Bykhovsky, 1982).

The most informative sources on genealogical data for Richard Cozens have been through the earlier mention of him in Oppe's book on Alexander and John Robert Cozens, his son and grandson, (Note4, the landscape painters; and more recently the information contained in Kim Sloan's excellent notes in her item, also on the art of Alexander and John Robert. (Note5)


To find your way to more files on Merchant Networks topics related either chronologically, or alphabetically by merchant surname, go to the main file of Listings.

Often as a sign of affection for his shipbuilders, Peter would act as God-father to their children, as illustrated by the following account:

"Mr Davenport, an English Shipbuilder being employed in the yard about a ship, that was on the Stocks, the Czar came & ordered some alterations to be made. The Builder told him he could not do it that day, because his Wife was brought to bed, & he must go home and get the Child baptized. Well says Peter is it a boy, yes replyed Mr Builder, then go directly and get the Parson & I will come and be God-father. Accordingly he came, as the custom is, Saluted the good Woman in the Straw, & made Her the usuall Present of a piece of gold. The Ceremony being over, the Czar asked if there was anything for dinner This very boy I knew when he was a man".

Extract taken from John Bell of Antermony's Sundry Anecdotes of Peter the First, Source: National Library of Scotland, Carmichael and Gordon Papers MS 109, ff. 10-16, but also published in Dixon, “Britain And Russia In The Age Of Peter The Great, Historical Documents, Document No.148, pp.136-138, published by the School of Slavonic & East European Studies, London, 1998).

Mary's father had been assistant shipbuilder to Richard Cozens in Russia. Also according to Kim Sloan, Richard had known Mary from her childhood days spent in Woolwich. (Note6) One can only assume from this, that perhaps they had met during the time Richard had spent in London prior to his departure for Russia in the middle of 1700. (Note7)

One can only assume that Richard and Mary Davenport had married later in St. Petersburg, Russia, as again there is no actual record of their marriage entry being recorded, although the birth of their children is: Mary, b.1722, Margaretta Maria b.1724, Richard b.1726, and Sarah, b.1732. The earlier birth dates of Richard and Mary's two sons, Alexander and Peter, are also not recorded here, but have been established as 1717 and 1720 respectively.

Joseph Noy had actually been the first major English shipbuilder to arrive in Russia at this time, arriving at Archangel in June 1698, together with the physician Baldwin Andrews. (Note8 He was later to be joined by his old Hampshire friend, Richard Cozens (who had arrived in the mid-summer of 1700 according to Perry's account, (Note9, following the early death of John Deane, son of the eminent English shipbuilder, Sir Anthony Deane) and were both to become the dominant figures in the building of the Russian Fleet of Peter ... (A. Cross, By The Banks Of The Neva, Chapter 5, Sur le pied anglais: shipbuilders and officers in the Russian Navy, p.165).

In the late summer of 1700, Richard Cozens commenced work on building two ships, the 70-gun Old Oak (launched by Peter in Feb/April 1705, according to L. Hughes) (Note10, and the Sleeping Lion, also another 70-gunner. Here Cozens was assisted by Robert Davenport, his future father-in-law, (Richard was later to marry Mary nee Davenport, Robert’s daughter), his Under-Master, together with assistant Robert Hadley, whilst his two apprentices were William Snellgrove and Francis Kitchen. Henry Bird was joint Under-Master, (Note11 and another apprentice, Leonard Chapman, also assisted both Noy and Cozens.

Ingermanland ship model

After the arrival of Cozens, this old partnership began to produce some of the finest ships in Peter's new fleet. In fact Noy and Cozens were to become something of favourites, with Richard Cozens later to build Peter's flagship, the Ingermanland, launched at St. Petersburg in 1715, later described by Peter as one of the best sailing ships ever. (Note12

Noy and Cozens, however, both remained in the South at Voronezh until around January 1704, with Noy building Flower of War, a ship of 60 guns, and Scorpion, before they were transferred to the shipyards of Tavrov and Osereda, where they built a number of other ships between them, many of which were later to be abandoned. (During this time they built a total of fourteen ships, twelve at Tavrov, four of 80 guns in 1707, three of 48 guns in 1709, and one of 24, also in 1709, followed by another four of 48 guns in 1710.)

Cozens built two other ships at Osereda in September 1711, (Note 13) before being transferred to St. Petersburg to begin work on the Ingermanland. Noy was later to build a number of ships here too, i.e. two 66-gun ships, Isaac Victory in 1719 and the Astrakhan in 1720, followed by two 6-gun ships in 1716, the Jupiter & Donder, plus three 32-gun ships, the Kreuisser, Windhunt and the St. Ilia in 1723/1724, later to be followed by the Peter II, a 54-gun ship in 1728. (Note14

In 1715, Cozens launched Peter's flagship the Ingermanland, a ship of 64 guns, at St. Petersburg, followed by the re-built Moscow also of 64 guns, possibly followed by the small six-gun Bombship, the Etna in 1716, (the same year in which Joseph Noy had also launched two similar-sized vessels, Jupiter and Donder). (Note15)

In 1718 in a personal letter (Note16) dated 22 June received from Peter aboard the Ingermanland sailing off St. Petersburg, Peter also mentions the sailing qualities of two of Cozens' earlier ships, the Neptune and Hango. (Note17)

In January 1721 there was the launch of yet another ship, Apostle Andrew (built jointly by Cozens and Ramsey), which was again launched by Peter. (Note18) It must also be noted is that Cozens and Noy were also training Russian shipwrights as well as supervising their own English colleagues during this time at St. Petersburg; although Browne and Ramsey were to produce a fair number of ships in their own right.

In 1723, in recognition of their services, both Cozens and Noy were promoted to the rank of Captain-Commander, which according to Peter's Table of Ranks, bestowed upon them the privileges of Russian nobility.

Cozens launched yet another ship in 1724, this time the 66-gun Derbent19, before then being transferred to Archangel by Peter with a team of some 150 carpenters and other workers to assist with the building of new Admiralty buildings. (Note20 Prior to his departure, Cozens was again to design another new ship, the 66-gun Kreml (Kremlin) (Note21, but the English shipwright Davenport was to finish her construction.

Following the death and funeral of Peter in 1725, which both Cozens and Joseph Noy attended, (in fact it is mentioned that Noy and Cozens were both given a position of honour at the funeral), (Note22 Cozens remained in St. Petersburg, but later returned to Archangel. Cozens did build one other ship at St. Petersburg, the 66-gun Nathalia, (1727), before his return [to England].

In Archangel, Richard Cozens was to build a further four ships. In 1734 the Archangelsk Town & the North Star, followed in 1735 by the St. Andrew (although the author has found evidence to suggest that Ramsey possibly built this ship at St. Petersburg (see PRO, SP. 91/10, f.25); plus in the same year, the 32-gun frigate Hector. After his exhaustive labours in the Russian service of Peter for a period of some thirty-five years, Cozens adopted Russian citizenship for the last two years of his life, before dying suddenly on 11 December, 1735 at the age of 61.

(NB: This article has been extracted from a more in-depth study by the author.)

1 Alexander and John Robert Cozens, by A. P. Oppe, Chapter I, p. 1, published by A. C. Black, London, 1952, and Alexander and John Robert Cozens: The Poetry of Landscape, by Kim Sloan, Chapter 1, p. 1, and also see note 11, p. 167, (Published by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1986).

2 Peters Shipwrights, by Israel Adolfovich Bykhovsky, (Published in Russia by Sudostroyeniye, 1982).

3 Joseph Noy is recorded has building the ships Jersey and Poole at East Cowes, Hampshire in the mid-1690s.

4 Alexander and John Robert Cozens, by A. P. Oppe, Chapter I, p. 1, published by A. C. Black, London, 1952.

5 Again according to Oppe, Richard's wife's name was Mary nee Davenport, daughter of Robert Davenport and Mary Dodd of Woolwich who had been married at St James Church, Duke Street, London on the 20th October 1696, (and whose son Peter later had become God-father to ?).

6 Alexander and John Robert Cozens: The Poetry of Landscape, by Kim Sloan, Chapter 1, p.1, & also see note 11, p.167, (Published by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1986).

7 According to Perry's account: The State of Russia under the Present Czar, by J. Perry, (London 1716).

8 Dixon, Historical Documents, Document No. 23, p. 20.

9 ?, The State of Russia under the Present Czar. London, 1716.

10 L. Hughes, Peter the Great, A Biography, p.71, (published London, 2002), and E. J. Phillips, The Founding of the Russian Navy: Peter the Great and the Azov Fleet, 1688-1714., Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1995., which contains an excellent table” of ships built for the Azov Fleet by Noy and Cozens.

11 See B. Pool, Navy Board Contracts 1660-1832; A. Cross, By the Bank of the Neva. Cambridge University Press, 1997., Chapter 5, p. 163, plus correspondence and lists in the Whitworth Papers, BL, MS, PRO, SP 91. Also, An Account of Russia as it was in the Year 1710, by C. Whitworth. (London, 1758.)

12 See Mr. Anatoly Turakhin's comprehensive article on the history of this ship, is available in Model Shipwright, Issue No. 103, March 1998.

13 These could be the two ships that Anthony Cross mentions in By the Banks of the Neva. Cambridge University Press, 1997., Chapter 5, p. 164, as the Staryi Dub and Spiashchii Lev which remained there until they were eventually broken up some time after Peter's death in 1725.

14 PRO, SP. 91/10, f.25.

15 PRO, SP. 91/10, f.25.

16 See: L. Hughes, Peter the Great: A Biography., New Haven and London, Yale, 2002., Chapter VIII, p. 138.

17 Also both named in the List of Ships: PRO, SP. 91/10, f.25.

18 L. Hughes, Peter the Great, Chapter VIII, p.147.

19 L.Hughes, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great. London, Yale, 1998); also R. Massie, Peter the Great, His Life and World. London, Phoenix Press, 2001., for further mention of these ships.

20 Peter's Shipwrights, Bykhovsky, 1982.

21 Peter's Shipwrights, Bykhovsky, 1982.

22 See Opisanie poriadka derzhannogo pri progrebenii blzhennyia vysokoslavnyia i vernodostoineishiia pamiati vsepresvetleishago derzhavneishago Petra Velikago, p. 264, Spb. 1725; M, 1726).


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This directory presents files on merchants working before 1775. Some of these files are on: convict contractors listed, South Sea Company of 1720, Samuel Holden, Director, Bank of England, Joseph Noy, English shipbuilder for Peter the Great.

Arrow graphicReferences other: Nil. (This article first uploaded to the Net on 31-5-2006)


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