NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Vice-admiral.
Document Signed ('Nelson & Bronte' with the left hand), 1 page folio (mounted to the remains of an album leaf), on board the Victory, 21 December 1803. Ordering David Moore to Malta to take up the position of surgeon on the Renard, a captured French schooner 'being purchased into his Majesty's service'. Addressed at the foot and signed by Nelson's secretary John Scott.
The Renard, a French 12-gun schooner, had been captured by the Cameleon off Corsica when carrying troops from Calvi. French records are said to show that she surrendered after having been fired on for some hours by two ships, one of which was the Victory. She was subsequently recommissioned into the Royal Navy under the command of Lieutenant Richard Spencer in 1803 with a crew of 60, including the newly appointed surgeon David Moore, and was assigned to protect Maltese commercial interests. In 1807 (now renamed Crafty as there was already a sloop named HMS Renard) the ship was captured by Spanish pirates, resulting in the deaths of three crew members, 14 serious injuries, and the court-martialing of Lieutenant Spencer for his failure to keep station with the Cofounder and for remaining too long in a small the bay north of Tetuan.
Nelson's signature changed with his various honours. Beginning simply as 'Horatio Nelson', written after July 1797 with the left hand, it became 'Nelson' after 1 August 1798 when he became Baron Nelson; it then changed to 'Bronte Nelson' after the king of Naples made him Duke of Bronte on 13 August 1799, altering to 'Bronte Nelson of the Nile' when Nelson discovered that his full English title included the extra words. It was in late 1800 that Nelson learned that he it was not a good idea to put his foreign title before his English one, and he decided upon 'Nelson & Bronte' [invariably with the ampersand], which is the familiar signature of his later years.
The document commences with a recitation of Nelson's rank and honours:
'By the Right Hon'ble lord Viscount Nelson KB. Duke of Bronte in Sicily, Knight of the Great Cross of Street Ferdinand and of Merit, Knight of the Order of the Crescent and of the Illustrious Order of Street Joachim, Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels, employed and to be employed on the Mediterranean Station.'
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