H.M.S. Alfred, the nameship of her class of four seventy-four gun Third Rate's, was ordered from Chatham Dockyard on 13th August 1772 and her keel was laid there in November the same year. Launched on 22nd October 1778, she was 169 feet in length with a 47 foot beam, and was measured by her builder at 1,620 tons. By the time she was completed, the American War of Independence was under way and France and Spain had both allied themselves with the colonists to make mischief at England's expense. As a large new ship-of-war, Alfred was commissioned immediately and took part in all major sea actions beginning with Rodney's so-called 'Moonlight' battle off the Virginia coast (5th September 1781), at the defence of Basse Terre [St. Kitts] against three determined French assaults (25th January 1782), with Hood off Dominica (9th April 1782), and at the crowning victory of the Battle of the Saintes (12tApril 1782)
With the experience of that conflict behind her, she took part in the Napoleonic Wars, being present at the Glorious First of June 1794, the capture of St. Lucia in May 1796, the bombardment of Copenhagen 1807, and the capture of Guadeloupe in February 1810. By then however her active career was drawing to a close and, even before peace came, she was no longer deemed fit for sea and was broken up in May 1814.