The 50-gun H.M.S. Romney, designed by Surveyor Slade, was laid down on 1s<\sup>t<\sup> October, 1759 and launched at Woolwich Dockyard on 8t<\sup>h<\sup> July 1762. Spending most of her early career on the North America Station, during the American War of Independence (1775-1783), she returned to active service in the Mediterranean at the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, under the command of Captain William Paget, where she took part in the British occupation of Toulon (1793).
The following year, whilst off Mykonos, on 17t<\sup>h<\sup> June 1794, Paget sighted the 44-gun French frigate Sybille and a convoy of three merchantmen lying in the roads. The British demanded that the French surrender, however the French captain refused, whereupon Paget approached and opened fire and the two exchanged broadsides. After a fierce action for an hour and ten minutes Sybille struck her colours, having suffered casualties of 46 dead and 112 wounded, nine mortally. H.M.S. Romney suffered casualties of 8 dead and 30 wounded, two mortally. Sybille was taken into the Royal Navy and renamed H.M.S. Sybille.
Born in 1769, the Hon. William Paget, Captain, R.N. was the second son of Henry Bayly Paget (1744-1812), 10th Baron Paget and from 1784 1st Earl of Uxbridge of the second creation and his wife Jane (d.1817), daughter of Arthur Champagné, Dean of Clonmacnoise, Ireland. In 1790 he became M.P. for the family's safe seat of Anglesey, a post he held until his death in Gibraltar in 1794 at the hand of an assassin's dagger. He was buried in King's Chapel, Gibraltar.
It is highly probable that the Paget family commissioned the present work from the artist to commemorate Paget's part in this heroic action, after his early death at the age of 24.