Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Vernon mss., 1737-1740, are contemporary copies and extracts of letters to and from Edward Vernon, 1684-1757, admiral, with the Great Britain Navy Board. Other correspondents are Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st duke of Newcastle, 1693-1768, prime minister, and Andrew Stone, 1703- 1773, undersecretary of state. Included are three accounts of orders relating to the navy issued from the office of the Lord High Admiral or the Secretary of State, 1739, Dec. 26- 1740, Aug. 7 (leaves 81-84), 1737, Feb. 1-1740, Nov. 25 (leaves 87-104), and 1739, June 8-1740, Nov. 25 (leaves 107-126). Copied largely by Thomas Pearse, Jr., assistant to the clerk of the accounts, the volume bound in suede has 127 numbered leaves and measures 31 cm.

Many of Vernon's letters, written chiefly from Port Royal, Jamaica, on board the Burford are concerned with the problems of obtaining naval stores for his fleet. Frequent mention is made of the prize ship Astrea and putting the ship into the service of Great Britain. Another matter of interest was a model for a hospital which "in case of a long war [would] be a means of preserving many mens lives" proposed by Vernon in a letter of Jan. 18-31, 1739 (leaf 4).

Official orders from London to several naval officers including Sir Chaloner Ogle, Nicholas Haddock, Sir John Balchen, Sir John Norris, and Edward Vernon at different times directed assistance for the settlement of the Royal African Company, the raising of colonial troops in America, some to be under the command of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia, the defense of the colonies of Carolina and Georgia from the French and Spanish, the taking of Spanish azogues ships near the Bay of Biscay, the convoying of Lord Cathcart's troops to the West Indies, the landing of Colonel Oglethorpe's regiment in Georgia, the protection of Mediterranean trade in the vicinity of the Gibraltar, Minorca, and Majorca, and directed that Admirals Haddock and Vernon should attempt "to burn & destroy the Spanish ships in the Harbour of Carthagena" (leaves 108 & 109).

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.