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John Drury Rare Books

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[MANUSCRIPT: John Montagu, 4th Earl of SANDWICH] Document signed 'Sandwich' as First Lord of the Admiralty, and also by the Lord Privy Seal Lord Dartmouth and by Lords Clarendon, Falmouth, Weymouth and Hinchingbrook (Lord Sandwich's son and heir and a Privy Councillor), addressed to the Duke of Northumberland, 'Custos Rotulorum' (Keeper of the Rolls) of the County of Middlesex, informing him that as 'His Majestys (George III's) Service doth at this time require a speedy supply of Seamen and Seafaring Men, to Man His Majestys Fleet which is now Fitting out, We do ..... require Your Grace to call upon the Justices of the Peace of the County of Middlesex ..... to cause all stragling seamen who are fit to serve on boards his Majestys Ships, to be taken up' and sent to one of the naval ports for a bounty of twenty shillings per man. , 'From the Council Chamber at St. James's 8 November 1776'

folio, 2pp. with integral address leaf and paper seal, silked, with some browning, but perfectly legible. In very good state of preservation. This document is in effect an official Admiralty authorisation for the much-feared press gangs during the American War of Independence. It is stated that 'stragling seamen' should be brought to 'His Majestys Yards at Deptford, Woolwich Chatham Sheerness Portsmouth, Plymouth or to the Naval Officer at Harwich according as those places shall be nearest to where they were taken up'. Theoretically press gangs were supposed to seize only experienced seamen or watermen, but in practice they would often take whoever was available. Lord Sandwich (1718-1792), politician, wit and gambler, and supposed inventor of the humble sandwich, was First Lord of the Admiralty throughout the War, and understood the importance of a well-manned navy in the conflict. A very able politician with a real sense of public duty, as can be seen from his extensive papers now in the National Maritime Museum, he combined hard work with a raffish private life. Regarded as politically unscrupulous, he was supposed to be the original of Jemmy Twitcher in Gay's Beggar's Opera> and was the subject of a pointed barb by Horace Walpole: 'Sandwich had a predilection to guilt, if he could couple it with artifice and treachery.' (Book ref. 25126)  £1250.00

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Offered for sale by: John Drury Rare Books
Contact: David Edmunds
Essex, CO11 2TX,
Phone:01255 886260
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