NELSON, Horatio, Viscount, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Vice-admiral.
Naval order signed ('Nelson & Bronte'), the text in the hand of his secretary John Scott, to Lord Mark Kerr, Victory, at sea, 26 January 1805. To the captain of H.M.S. Fisguard, countermanding earlier orders and commanding him to return to rendezvous number 97 [south of San Sebastian], 2 sides folio on a single sheet, with blank leaf.
Countersigned 'By Command of the Vice Admiral / John Scott' and headed with Nelson's titles (in the hand of a different writer): 'By the Right Hon[oura]ble Lord Viscount Nelson K[night of the] B[ath]. Duke of Bronte in Sicily, Knight of the Great Cross of Street Ferdinand and Merit Knight of the Order of the Crescent and of the Illustrious Order of Street Joachim, Vice Admiral of the White and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's ships and Vessels employed and to be emp[loye]d on the Mediterranean Station.'

Lord Mark Kerr (1776-1840, naval officer) was the third son of William John Kerr, 5th Marquess of Lothian. He had been present at the capute of Minorca in 1798.
' Whereas the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have judged it proper to confine the limits of the Mediterranean Station to the Gut of Gibraltar.
 'Your Lordship is hereby required and directed (notwithstanding former orders) to return immediately to Rendezvous Number 97, where you will remain cruizing until you have received certain information where I am gone to, and your Lordship will please to direct that none of the ships under my command on any account or consideration whatever exceed the Limits of the Mediterranean Station, or in any way interfere with the ships on the station of Vice Admiral Sir John Orde.'
Nelson had previously given orders that his subordinates were to have no dealings with the ships of Sir John Orde and to treat them almost as though they were enemys. He had learnt on 2 January that the French fleet had escaped from Toulon and he belied that they would post a threat to Sicily, Sardinia or Egypt. In fact they had been ordered by Napoleon to make a diversionary voyage towards the West Indies before doubling back to escort his proposed invasion force across the Channel. In the event bad weather was to spoil these plans, and the French fleet returned to the safety of Toulon.

Not in Letters and Dispatches, ed. Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, 7 vols. 1845-1846.

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.
[No: 26464]

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