About the beginning of 1718, some English merchants resolved to fit out two ships for a cruizing voyage to the South Sea, in hopes of having equal success with the expedition under Woods Rogers, and provided two fine ships, the Speedwell and Success, every way fit for the purpose. But as the war which was expected between Great Britain and Spain did not take place so soon as was expected, they applied for commissions from the Emperor Charles VI. who was then at war with Philip V. King of Spain. Captain George Shelvocke, who had served as a lieutenant in the royal navy, was accordingly sent with the Speedwell to Ostend, there to wait for the imperial commissions, and to receive certain Flemish officers and seamen, together with as much wine and brandy as might serve both ships during their long voyage, being cheaper there than in England. This was in November 1718, and both to shew respect to the imperial court, and to have the appearance of a German expedition, the names of the ships were changed to the Prince Eugene and the Staremberg.
[Footnote 233: Harris, I. 184.]
Having taken on board six Flemish officers and ninety men, Captain Shelvocke sailed from Ostend for the Downs, where the other ship had waited for him some time. War having begun between Great Britain and Spain, and finding that the Flemings and Englishmen did not agree, the owners laid aside all thoughts of using the imperial commission, and to send back all their Flemish officers and men to Flanders, with an allowance of two months wages, and procured a commission from George I. restoring the original names of their ships. The Speedwell carried twenty-four guns and 106 men, and the Success thirty-six guns and 180 men; the former commanded by Captain George Shelvocke, who was to have had the chief command in the expedition, and the other by Captain John Clipperton, who had formerly sailed with Dampier as mate, and of whose adventures after his separation from Dampier, an account has been already given.
In consequence of some change of circumstances, perhaps owing to some improper conduct when in Flanders, the proprietors now took the chief command from Shelvocke, and conferred it upon Clipperton, a man of a blunt, rough, and free-speaking disposition, but of a strict regard to his duty and rigid honesty. Though somewhat passionate, he was soon appeased, and ever ready to repair any injury he had done when heated with anger, and had much justice and humanity in his nature. Under Captain Shelvocke in the Speedwell, Simon Hately was appointed second captain; he who had formerly lost company with Woods Rogers among the Gallapagos islands, and had remained a considerable time prisoner among the Spaniards.