Although not as famous as her revolutionary ironclad namesake of 1860, the previous Warrior of 1781 was nevertheless a notable vessel in her own right. One of the five "Alfred" class '74's', Warrior was ordered in August 1773 and laid down in Portsmouth Dockyard in November the same year. Designed by Surveyor Williams, she was measured at 1,620 tons and was 169 feet in length with a 47 foot beam. Mounting a total of 74 guns, principally 28-32pdrs. on her gundeck and 28-18pdrs. on her upper deck, she took eight years to complete and was launched on 18th October 1781. By the time of her completion, the American War of Independence was at its height and she was commissioned for sea as soon as a full crew could be mustered.
Sent to the Caribbean where much of the sea war was being fought amongst the rich 'sugar' islands of the West Indies, she was first in action off Dominica on 9th April 1782 when Admiral Sir Samuel Hood brought a much larger French division to battle in what became the precursor to the large-scale fleet encounter three days later. Hood's squadron acquitted itself well against the superior enemy force and, after about four hours, both sides withdrew, the French having lost the opportunity to gain a victory which would undoubtedly have influenced the outcome of the so-called Battle of the Saintes on 12th April in their favour. As it was, the combined squadrons of Rodney and Hood, including Warrior, decisively defeated the French under the Comte de Grasse on that occasion in what was seen as the turning point of the War. Once peace was signed the following year, Warrior found herself laid up until required again when the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1793. Much in demand due to the multi-purpose usefulness of the '74's', her two principal fleet encounters were in 1801 and 1805, the first being as one of the support ships for Nelson's attack on the Danish fleet at Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801. Less decisive was her participation in Admiral Calder's engagement with the French fleet off Rochefort on 22nd July 1805. This encounter proved a disappointment in the run-up to Trafalgar and although Warrior fought her corner with honour, Calder himself was subsequently court-martialled for not pursuing the French with sufficient vigour. Remaining at sea until the War ended in 1815, she then served as a Receiving Ship from 1819 until converted into a convict hulk in February 1840. Lying in the river at Woolwich, she remained a familiar sight though steadily deteriorating until 1856 when, once the Chatham Prison was opened, her convicts were moved ashore and she was broken up in situ having been deemed not worth saving.