This month sees the opening of a new exhibition on the life of Emma Hamilton at the National Maritime Museum in London. This important collection of documents illustrates Nelson’s professional life at a crucial stage in his career and in his personal life and includes letters written by Emma Hamilton’s husband, William Hamilton, the British envoy at Naples.
This volume was published in 1903 by a young Cambridge graduate student, as a result of a controversy which started in 1897 over Nelson’s actions in Naples when he brought the British fleet to Naples in late June 1799.
This lengthy and bitter argument was between F P Badham and the Society’s founder, Sir John Knox Laughton (1830-1915), who was cooperating with the American strategic writer Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan USN (1840-1914). Gutteridge was commissioned by Laughton to gather and edit documents from British and Italian archives to help settle the argument.
Gutteridge edited 167 documents in this volume, mostly written in June 1799, by the main participants in the crisis, including Nelson, the King and Queen of Naples, Sir William Hamilton, Cardinal Ruffo and Captain Edward Foote, the grandfather of F J Badham.
After considerable effort in Naples Gutteridge compared most of the existing published documents with the originals and also discovered forty new letters between Nelson and Neapolitan Prime Minister Sir John Acton, and the correspondence between Maria Carolina and Lady Hamilton. Gutteridge also used key passages from the logs of Nelson’s flagship HMS Foudroyant and Foote’s Seahorse.
The material is accompanied by a very detailed narrative introduction, probably the longest in the Society’s history, and the volume is indispensable for this complex period.
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Harold Gutteridge was born on 16 July 1876 at Naples, Italy, where his father was a pioneer of
department stores in southern Italy. He was initially educated at a Swiss school in Naples, and then
The Leys School, and to King͛s College Cambridge where he took a first class honours degree in the
historical and law triposes. He was called to the bar in 1900 taking silk in 1930, practicing mainly in
commercial matters until 1914 when he joined the Territorial Army, serving in the Army Ordnance
Corps in Salonika 1916-19. He was mentioned in despatches and retired as a captain. In 1905 he
married and had three children. In 1919 he was elected Sir Ernest Cassel professor of industrial and
commercial law in the University of London, holding the post for 11 years, developing the faculty of
law into a full-time faculty. In 1930 the University of Cambridge created for him a readership in
comparative law, which was later converted into a chair, which he held until 1941. He was a Fellow
of Trinity Hall. He was a member of many government commissions and committees. He died on 30
His publications include
Nelson and the Neapolitan Jacobins (Navy Records Society, 1903).
Smith’s Mercantile Law (1931).
Bankers’ Commercial Credits (1932)
Comparative Law (1946).