England and the Dutch Republic had been allied for a century when they again went to war (the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War of 1780–84) over secret Dutch trade and negotiations with the American colonies, then in revolt against England.
On the 12th May 1796 the Dutch Brig, Mercuur loaded with 16 guns, was sailing off the Texel ( one of the Dutch Wadden Islands, off the coast of the Netherlands ) when she was spotted, chased and captured by HMS Sylph, commanded by Captain John Chambers White despite throwing 14 of her 16 guns overboard. At the time she had a complement of 85, was 85 Amsterdam feet long (an Amsterdam foot is about 8% shorter than an English foot), had a beam of 30' and her depth of beam was 13'. She had been purchased by the Amsterdam Admiralty in 1782.
She was refitted in Sheerness dockyard for the British Royal Navy and Commissioned in July 1796 as HMS Hermes. The name seemed a natural transition from the Roman God Mercury to the Greek name for the same God Hermes.
Carrying 14 x 24 pounder carronades and 6 pounder chase guns, she was sailing in the North sea with a complement of 80 on the 31st January 1797 when she is believed to have foundered during a gale with all lives lost.
Page above taken from The London Gazette 21st May 1796