Books

The Letters of Lord St. Vincent, 1801-1804, Volume II

Vol 61 (1926), D. Bonner-Smith

These volumes present letters and other documents of St Vincent’s period as First Lord of the Admiralty, the most controversial and politically-heated of any during the time of the sailing navy. They are taken from his out-letter books, and do not include the replies.

Unusually for Society volumes, the editor selected only a part of each letter for publication, but such severe editing does not entirely muffle the Earl’s spiky and forceful turn of phrase.

The subjects covered include the General Election of 1801, the Royal Marines, the dockyards and other parts of the civil administration of the navy.

The volume ends with the strongly-worded and partisan printed pamphlet, entitled: Memoirs of the Administration of the Board of Admiralty under the presidency of Earl of St Vincent. All copies save one were destroyed, presumably because of its inflammatory nature, but one survived in the Grenville collection in the British Library. It is here reproduced in 130 pages.

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About David Bonner-Smith

David Bonner-Smith was Admiralty Librarian, joining the library staff in March 1911. He was made deputy librarian on the death of W.G. Perrin in 1931, and appointed to the chief post in March 1932. He retired in May 1949 at the age of 60. It was said of him that he knew every one of the 100,000 books in the library, but was also familiar with all their contents. It is certain that he could direct students and enquirers to whatever reference they needed. He was editor of The Mariner’s Mirror from 1932 to 1939.

His publications include
• The Letters of Earl St. Vincent, 2 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1921, 1926).
• Letter and Papers of Admiral the Hon. Samuel Barrington 2 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1937, 1941).
• Captain Boteler’s Recollections 1808 – 1830 (Navy Records Society, 1942).
• The Russian War, 1855, Baltic (Navy Records Society, 1944).
• The Second China War, 1856-1860 (Navy Records Society, 1954).

The Navy Records Society