The engagements separated into boxes 1, 6 and 7 on the previous page, and below, appear to be the most straightforward, followed by box 2. Information becomes progressively less detailed for the remaining boxes, and the ink sketch is no great help, as it represents the actions comparatively realistically, which does not agree easily with the schematic rendering in the painting.
Box 7: The Principe de Asturias, Rear-Admiral Chacon, was an English-built ship formerly named the Cumberland captured by the French in 1707. Built for 80 guns, she carried 70 in Spanish hands. The Grafton first engaged her, then left her for the Breda and Captain to take.
“The Montagu and Rupert took the Volante“: Byng’s despatch.
Box 6: The note to the painting reverses the positions of the Rupert and the Montagu from their places in the sketch. It may be that the identifications in the notes are based on the colours of the squadron ensigns being flown.
“The Montagu and Rupert took the Volante“: sketch.
Box 2: The notes state that one of the two nearer ships of the White is probably the Superbe. In the sketch, below, the names of the Superbe and the Real San Felipe seem reasonably clear, allowing for a creative and arbitrary spelling, but the situation is depicted very differently. What must be an English ship, judging by its ensign, lower left, might possibly represent the Kent.
The Real Phillip and Superbe. Top right, the San Luis and San Fernando galing away from the Barfleur.
From Byng’s despatch: “About one o’clock, the Kent and Superbe engaged the Spanish Admiral (in the Real San Felipe), which with two ships more fired on them, and made a running fight until about three; when the Kent, bearing down upon her, and under her stern, gave her a broadside and went away to leeward of her. Then the Superbe put for it, and laid the Spanish Admiral on board, falling on her weather quarter; but the Spanish Admiral shifting her helm and avoiding her, the Superbe ranged up under her lee quarter; on which she struck to her.” Whether this account is accurately represented in the sketch is for someone with a knowledge of naval battle-tactics to say.
The sketch and the painting are juxtaposed above, showing reasonable correspondence between the engagements located in boxes 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8. Box 5 doesn’t seem to feature in the sketch at all. It is difficult to equate Box 4 with box A in the sketch, since they are not in the same position and involve different numbers of ships. Box 7 appears to be more or less in the same position as the engagement labelled B in the sketch, involving the Principe de Asturias, the Breda and the Captain, as outlined at the top of this page. It is labelled B because there is some doubt as to whether the scribbled names below can be made to read accordingly.
Perhaps the names really do read Captain, P Asturias and Breda, after all.
Boxes 3, 4 (A), 5, and 8 are discussed on the next page.