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Item:  BSL - Kelly Coruña 1810

FROM THE BERRYHILL & STURGEON
NAPOLEONIC & PENINSULAR WAR ARCHIVES

JOHN KELLY, BRITISH NAVAL INTELLIGENCE
AUTOGRAPHED LETTER SIGNED (ALS) WITH SECRET INTELLIGENCE REPORT
 
FROM PARIS REGARDING NAPOLEON & THE CAPTIVITY OF SPANISH KING FERDINAND VII - WITH COMPLETE SPANISH OFFICIAL MAIL POSTAL COVER
DATELINE: 30 APRIL 1810 - CORUÑA


AN EXEMPLARY PIECE OF FRENCH INTELLIGENCE IN SPANISH
FROM THE BRITISH HEAD OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE IN CORUÑA

FULLY TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH


THIS IS A KEYSTONE PIECE TO A PENINSULAR WAR COLLECTION. IT HAS A STRONG ENGLISH DESCRIPTION OF THE FALL OF ASTORGA, MENTIONS JUNOT AND BONNET, WHITE, ASTORGA, ASTURIAS, BURGOS, CIUDAD RODRIGO AND VILLAFRANCA, THE SHIP SEAFLOWER, LIEUTENANT STUART. IT INCLUDES A SCARCE POSTAL COVER WITH OFFICIAL SERVICE, POSTAL RATING AND RED GALICIA-CORUÑA CIRCLE CANCEL. TO TOP IT ALL OFF, IT CONTAINS AN INCREDIBLY DETAILED AND RARE EYEWITNESS INTELLIGENCE DESPATCH IN SPANISH JUST IN FROM PARIS. THIS HAS IT ALL.

This piece is particularly interesting as most of the intelligence dispatches and military letters were carried by military attachés on despatch ships or military couriers generally on horseback. Here we have an important piece of Spanish/French Intelligence traveling through the postal systems of Spain and Portugal. It would seem from Kelly's comments that they were using the official post in that area possibly for lack of British inland couriers, although there were certainly numerous British Ships which transited this major port. Possibly carried by land, but more likely carried by ship from Coruna to Lisbon. Kelly seems to have been the head of naval intelligence in that port city as other letters indicate.

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English Transcription:

                                                                Coruña 30th April 1810



Sir,
      I had the honor of writing to you on the 14 inst [this month] of the Seaflower Lieutenant Stuart since when we have had nothing of importance in this quarter except the fall of Astorga which you will no doubt be informed of before this reached you.
     I now take the liberty of inclosing you an abstract taken from a declaration given by a young Gentleman of undoubted integrity just arrived from Paris, his report may be relied on, and I therefore send it for your information.
     The Post from Villafranca is just arrived, the news it brings is that on the 22nd instant the Garrison of Astorga had surrendered to Junot, that after disarming the Troops he sent them Prisoners to Burgos, and immediately sent 5000 Infantry to reinforce Bonnet in Asturias, all his Cavalry he dispatched for Ciudad Rodrigo, and then proceeded to demolish the Walls of Astorga cursing the footy place which cost him so much time and so many lives before he took it.
     This is the relation the Postmaster here has just communicated to Mr. White who no doubt will impart it to you by this days post.


I have the honor to remain
Sir Your most Obd't Servant

                          John Kelly

To His Excellency
Charles Stuart Esq
r

English Translation of Spanish Spy Report:

"We left Paris for Madrid on April 6th, 1810 with a Duque de Frias passport. Some days before the marriage of Bonaparte with a princess of the House of Austria was publicized. After the celebration Berthier left for Germany for the civil ceremony with said princess, who was said to be arriving by the 25th of the month. It was also said that the best party ever seen in Paris would be celebrated, but the preparations did not indicate it.
     The latest public papers were announcing that Spain was almost conquered, that only Cadiz was left and that it would fall in days because the Galitanos in imitation of the rest of Andalusia would come to render homage to their sovereign king. If they chose to not do so, the army would bring them to reason and that in one month Galicia and Portugal would be occupied by the French. It is with this hope that many French were requesting passports for Lisbon there were boats headed for La Coruña.
     In Bordeaux we found a group of the Imperial Guard which was awaiting Bonaparte on the day of our arrival, May 11th, but they received a countermand and retreated towards Paris on the 14th.
     Throughout the way we encountered carts filled with injured and wounded and found the inhabitants of the towns to be very discontent.
     The officials in our group informed us that the number of troops heading to Spain reached 70, 000 (?) and that in Versailles and the surrounding area were stationed another 40,000 with the same destination. A fear of a falling out and subsequent break with the Russians caused Bonaparte to not use them. In Paris two Russian officials told us that they have just received orders to march towards Strasbourg.
     All the political figures are of the opinion that Russia will declare war on France and we hear now en route that the English are influencing a possible new coalition among Russia, Prussia, and Portugal, all against France.
     In Paris, the discontent against the present government is widespread and only those in its employ are rendering homage to his Majesty. Business and commerce are being interrupted and every day one sees stores being closed and businesses being bankrupted. In Bordeaux and just in the stock exchange district four hundred businesses have closed and countless others in the city itself.
     Ferdinand the VII has been separated from his family and they have only left him three valets, one for himself, and one each for his infant sons Carlos and Antonio, but the number of guards attached to him has increased. As of August 13, 1809 he was enjoying perfect health per the letters I have received from Valencia from his chaplain Dr. Blas Palacio (see two attached letters). However since that date I have not been able to communicate any news to you as the above mentioned chaplain has been separated from Ferdinand.
     There is a meeting in Bayonne of officials who are replacing those who died in Spain. When there is a sufficient number of these official they are escorted by anywhere from 300 to 600 men, who defend them from Spanish patrols (in the vernacular called ‘stubborn fools’) who have a tendency to attack them en route.
     From Bayonne we arrived at Lequcitio (?), Bermeo, and then Plencia and as the circumstances for our exiting were not favorable. We penetrated into the interior of Provence from Vizcaya and observed that each and every Vizcayano is determined to fight if the English and Spanish disembark with 12,000 men and if they send weapons for the three provinces.
     The command center has just received a decree from General Jubinot, the governor of the three provinces, and per whose request the contribution of 3,000,028 some reales must be paid. Passageway has also been arranged for the Mayor of Bermeo (who is a good Spaniard) given that the English intend to disembark where the civilian guards are defending the city.
     General Jubinot, Governor of the three provinces in the name of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Mediator of Switzerland, the Spanish army, and French Empire.
     We do hereby decree.

Excerpts from the letters of Ferdinand VII’s confessor.

(lst letter) Valencia, June 22, 1809

In essence they are calm and appreciated the news that we sent them although they doubted it. They were hoping that the Good Lord grant them good fortune. All was in God’s hand. It seemed as if some of the news was copied from a gazette so that one? believed that one? wanted to know more than the public.

(2nd letter July 29th [1809])

I acknowledge reception of the letters that this friend wrote to the Chaplain of S.M. [His Majesty] the one who was good with his brother and uncle, the one who knew the general mood of the nation.

There has been a general discontent among the French for the deceitful embargo imposed by the United States to whom 100,000,000 pesos have been given. The United States ambassador in Paris was highly embarrassed and upset by this tyranny, along with a thousand other items."

 


Real Servicio
To His Excellency Charles Stuart
Ambassador of His Britannic Majesty, etc. - Lisbon

                    

Postal Rate of 180 Reis                  On Official (Royal) Business                           GALICIA/CORUÑA
  Coruña to Lisbon

Document Specifications:  A very fine handwritten ALS letter signed by John Kelly as Royal Naval Intelligence in Coruña and dated April 30th 1810. Folded letter measures 13" tall x 8" wide (332mm x 202mm On two folded sheets (forming eight pages) of heavy stock, batonne laid paper, watermarked "F-1807" with a large seated Britannia in triple line oval crested by British Crown, with some edge toning and a tear at the wax seal (still present). English writing on one page and address panel and wax seal on one page, Spanish language intelligence despatch on three pages as shown. This is a keystone piece to a Peninsular War collection. It has a strong English description of the fall of Astorga, mentions Junot and Bonnet, White, Astorga, Asturias, Burgos, Ciudad Rodrigo and Villafranca, the ship Seaflower, Lieutenant Stuart. It still includes a scarce postal cover with official service, postal rating and red Galicia-Coruña circle cancel. To top it all off, it contains an incredibly detailed and rare eyewitness intelligence despatch in Spanish, with full translation, just in from Paris. This has it all. A beautiful and scarce opportunity to acquire an official diplomatic intelligence dispatch with complete postal markings from the Peninsular War which would exhibit well and handsomely enhance and help anchor a collection of Peninsular War Letters.

From the Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay, Correspondence. Stuart was His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal during the greater part of the Peninsular War (10 January 1810 to 26 May 1814). He was not actually the Ambassador to Portugal as the Royal House of Braganza had removed itself to the Brazils earlier in the War and hence the "official capital" and the concurrent British "Ambassador" Strangford were located in Rio de Janiero. Stuart was a personal friend and confidante of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson. During his tenure in Lisbon he was also a member of the ruling Portuguese Regency (the only British Subject in the war ever permitted to hold an official position in a foreign government while also representing Britain). He later was ambassador to: the Netherlands, France (twice), the Brazils and Russia. The most important foreign diplomat of the Peninsular War; his archive of diplomatic, military and intelligence despatches are second only to Wellington's Dispatches.

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Member: APS, BNAPS, CCNY, ICSC, DMSC & SPHS

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End of Item - BSL - Kelly Coruña 1810

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