Of all the ships involved in the China trade during the first half of the nineteenth century, one of the most interesting was the Falcon. Launched in June 1824, she was built for Lord Yarborough at a cost of #18,000 in List's yard at Wootton Bridge, Fishbourne, Isle of Wight. Though designed as a private yacht, her full-rig and general appearance prompted one spectator to remark that she more resembled a "20-gun ship-of-war" and she undoubtedly proved a highly impressive flagship to the Royal Yacht Squadron, a role she fulfilled for over ten years. It is notable that one of the main objectives of the R.Y.S.'s pioneers - and of far greater importance than the annual regatta at Cowes - was to improve the form and sailing qualities of warships and to that end, Falcon was the most successful of several experimental craft of her time. Yarborough, the R.Y.S.'s first commodore, was a particularly colourful character in the early history of yachting and employed fifty-four "choice" hands under the command of a naval officer to crew Falcon whenever she raced.
A serious accident at sea followed by illness prompted Lord Yarborough to dispose of Falcon and in 1836 she was sold to Captain Clifton on whose behalf Baring Brothers had financed the purchase for #5,500. Fitted with 48hp. paddle propulsion, she sailed for India in January 1838 but had the engine removed upon her arrival at Calcutta when she was resold to Jardine, Matheson & Co. Her new owners put her straight onto the opium run to Macao where her speed enabled her to continue trading throughout the so-called Opium War of 1840-42. This acknowledged speed merely added to her lustre as flagship of the Jardine fleet and once the War was over, her main port of discharge became Hong Kong following the islands's acquisition by British troops in 1841. Remaining a frequent sight all along the opium route until the mid-1850's, the end of her career remains shrouded in mystery. Said by some to have been taken by mutineers and by others to have been scuttled by pirates, there is circumstantial evidence that she was wrecked off Breaker Point, a projecting headland 60 miles South of Swatow, although this has never been proven.
Another version of this work, albeit unsigned and undated, has also been attributed to Nicholas Condy, and Thomas Dutton is known to have engraved it for a lithographic reproduction.