The Letters Archive

Letter #1

Sheerness 22d. Feby 1834

Arrived here last night my dear Kate after a fagging day in town where little of moment occurred worth relating that I can recollect. After some trouble my baggage is collected on board & I trust all right but in the confusion it is impossible to count it over. The Capt only came down within this half hour to join his ship which is now getting under weigh. Tonight probably we shall reach the ...     Read more

Letter #2

Downs 26th Feby 1834

My Dear Kate

We returned to this anchorage last evening after beating about all day against the wind or rather with a side one, just got a glimpse of Dover, Folkestone, and when in full expectation of the Mother bank for a change had to put about. Foul wind still & I see little hopes of leaving this for the present. It is exceedingly vexatious feeling that I might as well have been with you. ...     Read more

Letter #3

The Mountaineer anchored off the Isle of Wight for long enough for English to pay a surprise visit to Wickham. Letter 52 makes it clear that he took a ferry to and from Gosport.

Captain Kay and Lieutenant Molesworth were RE officers also posted to the West Indies. HMS Belvidera was a frigate which had seen distinguished service in the War of 1812, and was now employed in carrying troops and supplies ...     Read more

Letter #4

Lat. 49.24
Lon by chronometer 6.26
13th March 1834

My Dear Kate

The Fly of Scilly fishing Boat is just passing and about to speak the ship. You will be happy to hear that I am well but very home sick. Fr wind going about 6 knots and the day superb. Nothing has occured of course of any interest. Toby’s ears & tail have been cut, tell the younger part of the party, & I am about to mend some of my wardrobe. Great preparations making for trapping ...     Read more

Letter #5

This letter was written on the Monday following the Saturday when land was sighted. On the cover ‘Mrs English’ has been crossed through and substituted with ‘Miss Caroline English’, though the first line and ‘Tell my dear girls…’ show that he had his wife in mind as he wrote. It is clear that English’s intention was to address the occasional letter to one of his daughters, all ...     Read more

Letter #6

Never having been visited by Columbus or settled by the Spanish, Barbados had been a British colony since the first settlers found it uninhabited in 1624, only four years after the landfall of the Pilgrim Fathers. Its prosperity depended on sugar, which had been introduced in the seventeenth century, but which came into its own in the eighteenth. The planters were mainly of British origin. British ...     Read more

Letter #7

In 1833, the Governorship of Barbados was combined with that of the Windward and Leeward Islands, and Major-General Sir Lionel Smith was appointed to the new post. It seems, however, that he had not yet arrived, so English reported to Lieutenant-General Sir James Frederick Lyon, the retiring Governor.

St Lucia was fought over by the French and British for much of the eighteenth century, but the ...     Read more

Letter #8

This letter has no cover – he wrote to Augustus by the same packet, so perhaps there was one cover for both.

Pigeon Island is in the extreme north of St Lucia. Fortifications were built there for surveillance of the neighbouring French island of Martinique. It is now a nature reserve with a man-made causeway joining it to the mainland.

We are introduced to Roche Court, the home of Lady Gardiner ...     Read more

Letter #9

English is keen for his younger son Augustus, now 14, to follow in his footsteps in the Royal Engineers. The boy is now in the care of Mr Ambler, a private tutor specialising in preparing boys for the entrance examination for Woolwich Academy at age 15.

St Lucia 2nd June 1834

Having closed Mr Augustus English’s letter in reply to all his amusing sheets of paper I will write as hard as I properly can to complete one for ...     Read more

Letter #10

This letter has no date at the beginning; it was written from St Lucia and probably begun on 7 June 1834. When he failed to get it away, English broke the seal and wrote all over the cover. Presumably a new cover was added, but it does not survive.

The West India Regiments were raised from 1795 onwards to defend the plantations in the French wars. The officers were white, mainly British; other ...     Read more