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A collection of four manuscript letters addressed to Sir Robert Bateson Harvey

LUTWIDGE, ADMIRAL CHARLES SKEFFINGTON

  • Published: 1793-1810
A collection of four manuscript letters addressed to Sir Robert Bateson Harvey, from the renowned Royal Navy officer Admiral Charles Skeffington Lutwidge.Lutwidge had an extensive career, serving in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. However he is often remembered for his connection with a young Horatio Nelson, who served under Lutwidge as a midshipman on an expedition to the Arctic in HMS Carcass in 1773. The expedition was under the overall command of Constantine Phipps, departing from Nore on June 10th. The expedition sailed up to and around Spitsbergen, reaching within ten degrees of the North Pole. The thick sea ice prevented the expedition from travelling further north and they returned to Britain in September. It is from this time the famous story of Nelson's hare-brained attempt to shoot a polar bear, with Lutwidge himself as the reported source. A distant relation was his great-nephew Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll. Lutwidge went on to take commands in North America and the Mediterranean, most notably at the fall of Fort Ticonderoga and in the Saint Lawrence River. The collection contains: Autograph manuscript letter, 4pp., signed "Skeff Lutwidge", 230 x190mm, mailing folds, marginal hole caused by wax seal, Portsmouth, 29 March, 1793. A letter written during the French Revolutionary Wars, reads in part "the [HMS] Terrible was ready for sailing full as soon as I expected, but from a variety of circumstances incident to naval equipment, I did not arrive at Spithead before last Sunday". After missing the original squadron he intended to sail with, Lutwidge continues "I am now under Lord Hood's orders and fitted for the foreign service, our destination undoubtedly meant for the Mediterrean, but circumstances may alter it - a few ships are going under Admiral Gill to convoy the Indiaman assembled here…", after complaining of the lack of men, he writes "I really hope that from the late ill sweeps of the French we may promise ourselves the War will sooner be over". The rest of the letter discusses his family and the hope that Sir Robert has a fast recovery from Rheumatism. Autograph manuscript letter, 4pp., signed "Skeff Lutwidge", 235 x190mm, mailing folds, marginal hole caused by wax seal, Deal, 10 November, 1799 Reads in part "I have put down on the other side what I think your young protege will want to equip him for the present and you may send him down either from Charing Cross or the City… he will go on board my flag ship for the present…". The list includes 12 shirts, a leather cape, 2 blue jackets, beddings and a trunk. Autograph manuscript letter, 4pp., signed "Skeff Lutwidge", 240 x195mm, mailing folds, marginal hole caused by wax seal, Deal, 6 June, 1800. A letter written on the conflict with France, as it turns from the French Revolution Wars to the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars. Reads in part "If for any expedition to the continent, the prospect of success is not very promising". Continuing "My cruisers have not done much of late, and most of them are employed in watching the Enemy's ships at Dunkirk which are complicity ready for sea, and daily make a show of sailing- our force is rather inferior but we [???] a little on English fighting." Throughout the letter there is a mix of the concerns of war with questions on the local affairs at home, ending with a general update on his family. Autograph manuscript letter, 4pp., signed "Skeff Lutwidge", 230 x190mm, mailing folds, wax seal, small tears along fold lines, 10 April, 1810. This letter was written the year Lutwidge's wife Catherine died. At the age of 74 his handwriting is noticeably more shaky compared to earlier letters. This could be due to his poor eyesight, starting his letter with "Writing is troublesome to me and increases the defect in my sight also". He writes regarding the arrangements of his late wife's will "I wished to have communicated to you particularly the different arrangements made by my beloved Catherine respecting her fortune… bequests all her fortune to me … excepting the sum which is assured to the Children of her Brother George." It then goes onto the more specifics of the will which are to be carried out. An interesting collection of letters illustrating the combined personal and professional life of an esteemed Naval officer, written over 17 years.

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