Description

    Baron Tyrawly sends intelligence that the Spanish fleet is on route to the West Indies

    [War of Jenkins' Ear] [Edward Vernon]. Ambassador James O'Hara, Baron Tyrawly, Autograph Letter Signed to Sir Charles Wager. Three pages of a bifolium, 7.25" x 9.5". "Lisbon, the 30th of April 1740." Writing during his tenure as Ambassador to Portugal, O'Hara sends word to Wager, then serving as the first lord of the admiralty, of the departure of the Spanish squadron bound for the West Indies. In part: "... Supposing you will have known by this time of the Spanish Squadrons being sailed out of Cadiz, as scope as I had notice of it, and sufficient reason to suspect they were gone to the West Indies, I thought it so important that Admiral Vernon should be apprised of their sailing, least they might come upon him at a time that his ships were dispersed, that I immediately dispatched a Vessel to him, with an Account of that Squadrons Sailing, their strength and condition: The Spanish ships are all foul, being 18 months off the ground, but are said to intend to clean or at least to Scrubb at the Cannaries [sic], So that I make no doubt, but my intelligence will reach him before the Enemy get to the West Indias. The vessel I have sent is a Dutch Snow hath a Dutch pass, and so farr [sic] a Safe Conveyance, Commanded by a Scots Rotterdammer, well recommended to me as a sensible man and well aquainted [sic] with the West Indias... I have ordered her to proceed directly to Jamaica unless by meeting with any of the Kings Ships in those seas before she arrives there, they can get certain Intelligence of Mr. Vernon being on any other station, and Even to disclose to any of his Majesties ships in those seas... I have dispatched this Snow with such secrecy that nobody here suspects any thing of the matter except the owners, who are people I can trust... I hope what I have done in this matter will be approved of at home... I make no doubt that if Mr. Vernon is apprized in time of these ships, that by drawing his own together... we shall hear of his having destroyed this Spanish squadron..."

    The War of Jenkins', a conflict between Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, was named after an incident that occurred in 1731, when Spanish Coast guard boarded a British merchant ship and severed the ear of its captain Robert Jenkins. With no initial response to the incident, the conflict began eight years later instigated by politicians and merchants with hopes of improving British trade in the Caribbean.

    In a lengthy postscript, O'Hara makes clear what he hopes in return for his services: "...what I have asked for is to give me a gover't in that country [Ireland], and to be put on the Establishmt, of Gen'll officer there, in lieu of the plenipotentiaries Sallary that has been so long promised me, and this , in case that they at home have a mind that I should continue here, or to give me the above mentioned Employments in Ireland..." Docketed on the verso: "Lisbon 30 April 1740 / Lord Tyrawly has send an Express to Vernon."

    Although Vernon initially enjoyed success in destroying the Spanish forces of Porto Bello at the start of the war, by 1740, his efforts were reduced to protecting English trade with the enemy's colonies and preventing Spanish fleets from reaching Spain. George Washington's older brother Lawrence Washington served under Vernon, and named Mount Vernon in his honor.

    Condition: Bold ink on gently toned paper. Light soiling along right margin of first page, with a single spot of foxing thereat. Tiny separations occurring at the folds at the margins, and a single mounting strip occurring on verso at the integral fold. Light soiling to verso.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
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