(Lugger: cpl. 50; a. 10 guns)
The first Surprise, frequently spelled Surprise, was purchased at Dover, England, by agents of the American commissioners to France early in 1777 and was fitted out at Dunkirk, France. The lugger, commanded by Capt Gustavus Conyngham, departed Dunkirk on or about 1 May 1777. In the North Sea on 3 May, she captured British mail packet the Prince of Orange; and, the next day, she took brig Joseph with a cargo of wine and citrus fruit.
Forced by contrary winds and British cruisers, Conyngham returned to Dunkirk with his prizes. However, diplomatic pressure prompted France—which wished to avoid a premature break with England—to confiscate the lugger and to release her prizes