STANHOPE Lady Hester - Autograph Letter 1803 interceding for an injured captain
Lady Hester STANHOPE (1776-1839)
Autograph Letter in the third person to Lord Auckland [then Postmaster General], requesting his aid for Captain Osborne of the Diana, who is recovering from a “dreadful hurt”.
5 pages 4to with integral address leaf, Thomas’ Hotel [Berkeley Square], 9 September 1803.
An early letter, with interesting associations, written nearly seven years before her travels in the Middle East.
Lady Hester was, at the time, running the household of her unmarried uncle, William Pitt, a position which would take on greater importance a year later when Pitt again became Prime Minister. Although relatively young – she was 27 at the time – she was already noted for her intelligence and social grace.
Lord Auckland had been a close friend and associate of Pitt’s, although relations had, by this date, cooled somewhat. The falling out was mainly political, though Pitt had already offended Lord Auckland some years earlier, when he publicly denied rumours of an engagement between himself and Auckland’s daughter Eleanor.
“Lady Hester Stanhope presents her Compts to Ld Auckland, & trusts his Lordship will pardon her troubling him with the enclosed letter, which her Ladyship recd at Cheltenham & defered [sic] sending it to Ld A. hoping to have had the pleasure of seeing some part of his family at least when she visited her sister Lady Lucy at Wickham, but having been obliged to postpone her going thither for the present, Lady H. wd unwillingly neglect serving the unfortunate young man in question until that period. Ly H. knows nothing of Capt Osborne, except from having taken a little voyage in his vessel, & during the seven days she was on board the Diana had every reason to be perfectly satisfied with his conduct, which was all civility & attention to all his passengers; but Ld Aucklands former kindness to both the Osbornes sufficiently proves them not devoid of merit, upon wh subject Ly H does not wish to dwell, but simply to state what in all probability may be unknown to Ld A. which is, the dreadful hurt young Osborne recd some time ago, & which renders it impossible for him to attend to his duty for some time, he is now better & will probably recover, if it were possible he cd avoid his duty during the winter months, the severity of which wd most probably kill him, in the state he now is in, besides his being unable to walk upright (& hardly indeed without assistance) render him almost useless in the vessel, when there was much sea. It struck Lady H. Lord A. perhaps wd not object to appointing the Mate of the Diana her Captain; & otherwise providing for Osborne. The Mate Nortleman has been 10 years in the service & has had the entire care of the Vessel ever since Osbornes sad accident. Lady H. will not further intrude upon Ld Aucklands time as she is [missing word] his Lordship has only to [be] acquainted with the nature of these circumstances to compassionate them, particularly upon further investigation. Lady H. leaves town on Sunday for Walmer.”
It would appear that Captain Osborne’s ship, the Diana, was a packet ship which is recorded a year earlier as serving the route from Harwich to the Netherlands, which would explain the relevance of Lady Hester’s appeal to Lord Auckland, as Postmaster General, for assistance.
Lady Hester’s uncle, William Pitt, was at the time Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, with a residence at Walmer Castle.
The letter had been torn and repaired with tape, but has now been sympathetically and professionally repaired.
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