Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Pulteney Malcolm Papers, 1812-1837

Finding aid created by
Caitlin Marineau, August 2010

Summary Information
Title: Pulteney Malcolm papers
Creator: Malcolm, Pulteney, 1768-1838
Inclusive dates: 1812-1837
Bulk dates: 1814-1817
Extent: 46 items
The Pulteney Malcolm papers contain correspondence and logbooks related to the Royal Navy service of Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm. The correspondence is composed primarily of letters Malcolm wrote home to his wife and sisters, while he was stationed in America during the War of 1812. The logbooks contain records of his service in America, in the Napoleonic wars, and at St. Helena, where he was in charge of the blockade of the island during Napoleon’s exile.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1964, 1966. M-1329, M-1395.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Pulteney Malcolm papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged into four series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Documents
  • Series III: Logbooks
  • Series IV: Maps

The correspondence is arranged chronologically followed by the documents, the three logbooks are bound together in a single volume, and the maps are contained either within the logbooks or are housed in the Map Division (see Separated Items for a complete listing).


Sir Pulteney Malcolm was born February 20, 1768, to George Malcolm and his wife Margaret (née Pasley) at Burnfoot, Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. In 1778, he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman at the age of ten, aboard a ship captained by his uncle, Thomas Pasley. During his time as midshipman, Malcolm saw action at Porto Prayo, and travelled to the West Indies. Promoted to lieutenant in 1783, Malcolm spent time at the Jamaica Station under Bartholomew Rowley, where he assisted in capturing the frigate Inconstante . Malcolm served as commander of the Jack Tar, and then as post-captain at various posts in the North Sea and the East Indies.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Malcolm served with Lord Nelson in the Mediterranean in 1805, assisting in the blockade of Toulon, and participating in the pursuit of the French fleet to the West Indies in 1805. Though he missed the Battle of Trafalgar, shortly afterwards Malcolm captured the Spanish vessel El Reyo , and returned to the West Indies, where he fought in the Battle of St. Domingo in 1806. In 1812, Malcolm was captain in the Channel fleet under Lord Keith, who was the uncle of his wife, Clementina. The next year, Malcolm was promoted to rear-admiral, and in 1814, with the Royal Oak as his flagship, Malcolm sailed to North America. During the War of 1812, Malcolm served under Sir Alexander Cochrane and Sir George Cockburn, and participated in the attack on Washington, D.C., the Battle of Baltimore, and the Battle of New Orleans.

At the end of the war, Malcolm returned to Europe, where he provided naval support in the North Sea for the Duke of Wellington. After Napoleon’s exile to St. Helena, Malcolm became commander-in-chief of the St. Helena station from 1816 to 1817, where he guarded Napoleon and maintained a blockade of the island. In 1821, he was promoted to vice admiral, and served as commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean from 1828-1831, and again from 1833-34. In 1837, Malcolm was promoted to Admiral of the Blue.

In 1809, Malcolm married Clementina Elphinstone, with whom he had two sons, George (who predeceased him) and William. Malcolm died July 20, 1838.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Pulteney Malcolm papers contain 46 items relating to the service of British admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, including 43 letters, 3 logbooks bound together in one volume, Malcolm’s service statement, and a miscellaneous document with descriptions of the British attempt to take New Orleans. Most of the items date from 1814-1817.

The correspondence series primarily consists of letters Malcolm wrote to his wife Clementina (and a few to his sisters) from 1814 to 1815. At the beginning of this period, Malcolm was stationed with his fleet at Bordeaux, during the immediate aftermath of Napoleon’s initial abdication and exile. In his letters, he discussed the end of the war with the French, his opinions of the city, major events, and important people. He wrote about his attempts to pacify his captains, who were angry about discovering their assignment to America by reading about it in the newspapers and by hearing about it from other officers (Letters #4 and #5 [May 1814]). By June 1814, Malcolm and his flagship, the Royal Oak , had set out for America, where they would provide naval support for the British forces. His letters from this period document major events from the last part of the war, including the capture and burning of Washington, the Battles of Baltimore and New Orleans, and the peace negotiations. His letters also document his opinions of fellow officers, including Admiral Alexander Cochrane; his desire for peace and to return home; and his views on America. While sailing from Bermuda to the United States, Malcolm wrote: “the Americans will be inclined to Peace, but there is a set of turbulent men amongst them, that will not listen to reason. I believe that a Republick to be great must like the Romans be always at War in order to find employ for the disquiet spirits” (Letter #19, 3 August [1814]). The last letter from this period is from 1815, written onboard the Royal Oak as Malcolm sailed home from America. During the voyage Malcolm learned that Napoleon had just returned from exile on Elba and was once again in France.

The three logbooks in the collection are bound together into one volume. The first logbook, kept from June 1, 1814-May 28, 1816 on the H.M.S. Royal Oak , includes accounts of the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, and provides a daily record of naval support for the British army during the Battle of New Orleans. The second logbook, kept from June 13-July 25, 1815 on the H.M.S. Tartarus , documents the period Malcolm spent commanding a squadron in the North Sea, while giving naval support to the Duke of Wellington before Napoleon’s final defeat. The final logbook, from the H.M.S. Newcastle , March 28, 1815-August 16, 1817, deals primarily with the blockade of St. Helena, during Napoleon’s exile to that island. The volume also contains two watercolor drawings, two pen and ink drawings, a pencil sketch, five charts, two plans and four maps. Maps within the collection include several maps of the Chesapeake Bay region, as well as two maps of St. Helena. A map of the island of St. Michael, and a second of the American coastline are housed separately within the Map Division.

Other documents include an 1812 supply order from Rear Admiral George Cockburn to Captain Ross of the H.M.S. Marlborough ; an incomplete document entitled “Chapter 21” that concerns the British attempt to capture New Orleans; an 1830 letter from Malcolm to Secretary to the Admiralty John W. Croker, in which Malcolm addressed the situation, pay, and unemployment of secretaries to admirals; and a service statement for Malcolm, which details his entire career in the Royal Navy from 1778 to 1837, including ranks, dates, ships, and notes on actions.

Subject Terms

    • Bordeaux (France)--History.
    • Fort McHenry (Baltimore, Md.)
    • France--History--19th century.
    • France--History, Military--1789-1815.
    • Great Britain--History--1800-1837.
    • Great Britain--History--19th century.
    • Great Britain--History, Military--19th century.
    • Great Britain--History, Naval--19th century.
    • Great Britain. Royal Navy.
    • Mobile (Ala.)--History.
    • Mobile Bay (Ala.)
    • Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821.
    • Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1769-1821--Captivity, 1815-1821.
    • Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815.
    • New Orleans, Battle of, New Orleans, La., 1815.
    • Newcastle (Ship)
    • Royal Oak (Ship)
    • Saint Helena.
    • Tartarus (Ship)
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    • United States--History--War of 1812--Campaigns.
    • United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    • Logs (records)
    • Maps.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1  
    Correspondence,  1814-1830 November 6 [series]:
    Documents,  1812 November 8-1837 January 10 [series]:
    Box   2  
    Logbooks [series]:
    H.M.S. Royal Oak ,  1814 June 1-1816 May 28
    H.M.S. Tartarus ,  1815 June 13-1815 July 25
    H.M.S. Newcastle ,  1815 March 28-1817 August 16
    Additional Descriptive Data

    List of maps kept with the Pulteney Malcolm papers in the Manuscripts Division:

    Alternate Locations

    List of maps housed in the Map Division: