Monday, 19 December 2011

Letters From A Life At Sea

HISTORIC documents have surfaced which shed light on the seafaring career of the admiral who built one of the North East’s great mansions.

A collection of 26 items of correspondence from Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Byng in 1718 to Admiral George Delaval will be sold tomorrow at Boldon Auction Galleries in South Tyneside.

It was George Delaval who bought the Delaval estates from his relative Sir John Delaval and who invited the architect Sir John Vanbrugh to design Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, now in the care of the National Trust.

The letters were sent to George Delaval by Admiral Byng when both men were based in the Mediterranean at a time of conflict with Spain. Admiral Delaval led the Blue Squadron under Byng’s command.

The documents include:

Details of the positions which ships were assigned in battle, each vessel’s commander and its number of crew and guns;

Arrangements for a rendezvous point should the fleet by split up by bad weather or accident;

A form to be filled which details crew numbers, stores and rate of consumption of bread, beer, beef, pork, peas, oatmeal, butter and cheese;

A command to Admiral Delaval in which he is “desired and directed whenever you meet any ships belonging to the King of Spain or his subjects you are to take, sink, burn or destroy.”

A letter advising that an agent in Lisbon has procured a large quantity of wine and that if ships’ pursers have the funds they can buy stocks.
The documents, which are from a North East vendor, are expected to fetch £1,500-£2,000.

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