Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte, KB (1758-1805). Norfolk born British naval commander and national hero, famous for his naval victories against the French during the Napoleonic wars, victor at the Battle of Trafalgar, where he was mortally wounded aboard his flagship Victory. A signed memorandum/letter to Ross Donnelly, Captain of the Narcissus, from "Victory off Toulon", dated 14th September 1803 and signed "Nelson & Bronte". The letter is in the hand of, and additionally signed by Alexander John Scott (1768-1840), Nelson's faithful official secretary who was with him as he died onboard HMS Victory.
"Having received Information that the French intend sending Troops to the Island of Minorca / Menorca. You are hereby required and directed to proceed immediately with His Majesty's Ship Narcissus under your Command off Port Mahon, and endeavour to obtain information thereof, previous to your communicating with the Town, and if You find it perfectly safe, You are to send a boat on shore to His Majesty's Consul there, in order to obtain every Intelligence with respect to the French intentions of sending troops to the Island of Minorca, and also with the disposition of the Spaniards towards us. And return immediately after and join me on my Rendezvous off this place with the Information that you may Obtain.
Given onboard the Victory off Toulon 14th September 1803
Nelson & Bronte"
1½ pages, single folio leaf (32.5 x 20.5cm), some light browning and dust soiling, slightly worn at central horizontal fold (not affecting text), laid chain-lined paper bearing manufacturers watermark "S. Timbrell 1803". Provenance: purchased from Maggs Bros circa 1970's and then by descent. Letter housed in original Maggs Bros printed autograph sleeve and with original clipped printed catalogue entry loosely inserted, this stating at foot "Not in Nicholas, and presumably unpublished"
Britain's greatest naval commander and Norfolk hero, Nelson was born at Burnham Thorpe, learning to sail in the web of waterways around Burnham Overy Staithe. He was a student at the Paston School, now Paston College, and what is now the Norwich School in Cathedral Close. He sailed into, and out of, Great Yarmouth many times, and it was here that Nelson declared "I am myself a Norfolk man and glory in being so"