HMS 'Sovereign of the Seas', 1637.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Contemporary copper plate engraving by John Payne. The 'Sovereign of the Seas was designed by Phineas Pett, Commisioner at Chatham Dockyard, was laid down at Woolwich in 1636, and launched on 13 October 1637. Both in size and design the 'Sovereign' showed a considerable advance on any ship which preceded her, although in carrying her 104 guns in three tiers she followed the example of the 'Royal Prince' (1610). By order of the Council of State in 1651 her upper works were so reduced that it was calculated that the lower tier of guns would be raised another foot above the water. She was completely rebuilt in 1659 and again in 1685, but was accidently burned while laid up at Chatham in 1696.