Prince Edward: Letter to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn about a midshipman

Prince Edward: Letter to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn about a midshipman
Prince Edward to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn
Prince Edward: Letter to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn about a midshipman
Prince Edward to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn

Prince Edward: Letter to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn about a midshipman


Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767–1820)

Prince Edward to the Bermuda Governor Cockburn about a midshipman, 31 January 1813

Fourth son of King George III and father of Queen Victoria. Letter signed (“Edward”). 4 pages. Small 4to. (approximately 7 ¼ x 8 ¾ inches). Kensington Palace, 31 January 1813. To Sir James Cockburn, (1771–1852), Governor of Bermuda from 1811–1819 and the ninth Baronet of Langton, Berwick.

My Dear Sir James,

A very fine young man of the name of William Smith, at present midshipman on board of the HMS Plantagenet under order for the North American Station whom I originally put into H.M. Naval Service, & who has passed his examination with credit for the step of Lieutenant having applied to me as his only friend to get him into the flagship on that station, I have again recourse to you to request your good Brother to receive him on board of his Ship and to notice him as a protégé of mine. His father was a Captain in one of the German auxiliary Corps that served with the British Army during the American War, but is now in very great indigence so that he can do nothing for his Son; the poor lad is therefore quite a child of fortune, & must depend on his own good conduct alone to bring him forward. Now as I know of no man so likely to take up a friendless youth, if he deserves it, as your Brother, I am particularly … to get him with him, and your effecting this for me will be conferring a very particular obligation. Pray remember your promise that I am to see you again before you embark, and have the goodness to let me know when you acknowledge this whether your worthy neighbour Lord Northwick is returned from his excursion into Leicestershire With every sentiment of the most friendly regard and of the truest esteem, I remain My Dear Sir

Yours most faithfully Edward

Edward lived in Canada from 1791 to 1798 and again as the commander-in-chief of British forces in North America from 1799 to 1800, during which time he improved the military defenses of the British naval installment at Halifax. He served as governor of Gibraltar from 1802 to 1803 and retained that title until his death. However, his most important accomplishment was providing a legitimate heir to the English in his daughter, Victoria, who succeeded her uncle, William IV, to become queen of England in 1837.

From 1806 to 1807, Cockburn served as under-secretary of state for war and the colonies, during which time he became a close friend of Edward. Cockburn was governor of Bermuda from 1811 to 1819, a tenure which saw the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans drastically increase Bermuda’s strategic importance. It was from Bermuda that the famous attack on Washington, D.C., was launched, as were naval battles fought on the Chesapeake Bay. During the War of 1812, Cockburn became infamous for allowing privateers in Bermuda waters to attack ships flying the American Flag. Cockburn was one of several distinguished brothers including British naval commander Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet (1772-1853), of whom Edward is seeking a favor for Midshipman William Smyth, stationed aboard the HMS Plantagenet. Distinguishing himself during the Napoleonic wars, Cockburn rose to the positions of rear-admiral of the United Kingdom, admiral of the fleet and first sea lord. 

The HMS Plantagenet was a Royal Navy 74-gun third rate ship of the line launched in 1801 at Woolwich and broken in 1817.

John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick (1770–1859) was an English peer and art collector. Northwick developed a love of collecting from his friend, famed diplomat Sir William Hamilton. In addition to Hamilton and his wife Lady Emma Hamilton, Northwick counted among his close friends naval hero Horatio Nelson and the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. His collection, for which he was renowned, included everything from Old Master paintings and enamels to furniture and coins and was sold at auction in 1859 after he died intestate.

Written on a folded sheet which has been folded for mailing. In very good condition.

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