The Kemble papers consist primarily of letters and documents sent to Kemble in his role as commander of the Nicaraguan expedition. The bulk of collection falls between the period of his appointment to the expedition in April 1780, to the evacuation of Nicaragua in January, 1781.
The papers contain information on the logistical difficulties in arranging for food, water, supplies, and transport for the garrisons at St. John's Castle and Cooke's Post, and document the confusion, errors in judgment, and ineptitude that were the hallmark of this expedition.
An important series of letters and documents from Colvill Cairns and James Thomson record British efforts to mediate affairs with the Mosquito Indians and includes a copy of the treaty Cairns and Thomson negotiated at Tebuppy, along with a list of concessions the British were willing to make.
Post-expedition correspondence includes a series of letters written by Kemble to protest his assignment to a position under the command of a junior officer in Quebec plus copies of the War Office replies. There are also a few letters from Kemble's brother, Samuel, relating to problems finding an apartment in London, and two long letters concerning prospects for the settlements in New Brunswick, Canada.