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King George III

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King George III appoints a lieutenant of volunteers

as Great Britain expands its home defense during the Napoleonic Wars

George William Frederick, 1738–1820.  King of Great Britain and Ireland, 1760–1820; nominally King of France, 1760–1801; King of Hanover, 1814–1820.  Partially printed Document Signed, George R, one page, 13½” x 9”, Court of St. James’s, June 27, 1798.  Countersigned, Portland, by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, 1738–1809, who was twice Prime Minister.

With Great Britain mired in the Napoleonic Wars, King George III appoints “Our Trusty & Wellbeloved John Barlow” a lieutenant in a company in the “Second Battalion of Manchester & Salford Volunteers commanded by our Trusty & Wellbeloved Lieutenant Colonel John Silvster.”  The King stipulates, however, that the lieutenant is “not to take Rank in Our Army except during the Time of the said Corps being called out into actual Service.” 

The Napoleonic Wars took a great toll on Britain, not only in terms of money but also in manpower.  Between 1789 and 1815, Britain enlarged its army from 40,000 to 250,000 men.  The grave threat of invasion by France also led Britain to expand its civil defense, and by 1803 more than 380,000 volunteers served in home cavalry and infantry units. 

In 1796, the citizens of Manchester and Salford subscribed to a fund for raising volunteer corps for the national defense.  A regiment was formed in 1797, and two more battalions were formed in 1798.  On April 24, 1798, local men resolved to form an independent corps to defend the city within a 10-mile radius.  They agreed to serve without pay and to supply their own uniforms, although the government was to supply their arms.  At a subsequent meeting, in June, they decided to form two additional battalions in Manchester, one to “march and meet the Enemy in case of invasion,” and the other to “remain for local defence.”  As this document indicates, Silverster was made the Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of the Second Battalion.  The earliest commissions were dated June 27, 1798, the date of this document.

George III has signed with a large signature that measures 3” long and 1¾” high.  The Duke of Portland has signed with his typical small signature at the lower right.  The King’s paper and wax seal is fully intact, as is the blue revenue stamp.  The document has intersecting folds, and scattered stains, including  evidence of some damp staining at the upper right  that does not affect the text or the signatures, and foxing on the reverse on the end of the document opposite the King’s signature.  There are penned notes in another hand and a second stamp on the reverse.  Overall the document is in fine condition.

Unframed.  Please ask us about custom framing this piece.


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