Item: BSL -
FROM THE BERRYHILL & STURGEON
NAPOLEONIC & PENINSULAR WAR ARCHIVES
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
APRIL 1810 - CORUÑA
AN EXEMPLARY PIECE OF FRENCH INTELLIGENCE
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
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
DOCUMENT IS COVERED BY OUR WRITTEN, SIGNED AND SEALED
LIFETIME GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY
Coruña 30th April 1810
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
I have the honor to remain
Sir Your most Obd't Servant
To His Excellency
Charles Stuart Esqr
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
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
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 )
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."
To His Excellency Charles Stuart
Ambassador of His Britannic Majesty, etc. - Lisbon
Postal Rate of 180 Reis
On Official (Royal) Business
Coruña to Lisbon
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
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.
Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.
Member: APS, BNAPS, CCNY, ICSC, DMSC & SPHS
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