William Mildmay papers  1748-1756
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Mildmay papers (7 volumes) contain letters and documents related to Mildmay's appointment as British commissioner to France after the War of Austrian Succession, and prior to the Seven Years' War. The collection consists of seven bound volumes of letters, essays, documents, and personal discussions related to the Anglo-French Commission. Many of the items are retained copies created for Mildmay's personal use. The collection contains material in both English and French, and many items are dually labeled with both Julian and Gregorian dates.

Volume 1 contains various letters and documents, including:

  • A copy of the articles of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
  • Instructions from the French government to the French commissioner of negotiations.
  • "A collection of divers Opinions relating the British Seas, Channel, & Northern Seas," containing opinions regarding the boundaries of the British seas, including those of Sir Charles Hedges, Judge of the Admiralty; the Fraternity of Trinity House; and Sir Nathaniel Lloyd
  • Instructions given to English commissioners for meeting in Paris regarding the disputed aspects of the treaty, as well as a French reaction, and a reply from Britain
  • Letters regarding the concern by British West Indian governors over the "daily Incroachments of the French" in the region, referencing settlements on the islands of St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Vincent, and Tobago, and orders from the British government to the governors
  • Various letters related to the treaty

Volume 2 contains Mildmay's private accounts of conferences and negotiations held with the French commissioners from 1750 to 1754.

Volume 3 contains letters from Mildmay to Benjamin Mildmay, the Earl Fitzwalter, during his time in Paris. The letters serve as an ongoing description of Mildmay's time in France, and they document issues surrounding the negotiations, politics, foreign relations, social events, and the activities of the French court. Included is an account of the governmental crisis that arose from a dispute between the French Parliament and clergy. Mildmay also recorded details related to his personal life and social events, including a description of a party with dramatic fireworks at the Duke of Orleans's palace, in honor of the Dauphin's recovery from smallpox (September 27, 1752). The letters reveal that Mildmay was growing increasingly frustrated by the treaty negotiations; in a letter from January 24, 1753, Mildmay wrote, "I am now in full business with the French Commissaries, & heartily sick of their chicanery; but it is to be hoped His Majesty will put an end to all wrangling & disputes by a happier method of accommodation, or more persuasive arguments than what are delivered in written Memorials." In addition, he mentioned that if they are to enter into a war with France, it would be against the will of the people in the country, but if they are to maintain peace, France would only use it to prepare for a later war (March 26, 1755). Mildmay discussed specific issues with the negotiations, such as the British refusing to agree to an article that stated if France and Britain went to war, neither would commission privateers to disrupt commerce (March 6, 1754).

Volume 4 contains various letters and documents, including:

  • Copies of letters and documents related to Mildmay's private commission to negotiate the exchange of prisoners captured during the War of Austrian Succession, as well as French soldiers captured in Scotland during the Jacobite uprising
  • Copied letters concerning accounts documenting the ransoms and costs related to the upkeep of prisoners
  • Detailed line-item descriptions of the demands made for the release of prisoners.
  • Blank forms for recording the accounts for the total spent for subsistence, hospital charges, burial certificate, and receipt for prisoners delivered
  • Printed copy from 1743 of "Traité et Conventions Pour les Malades, Blessés & Prisonniers de Guerre des Troupes de Sa Majesté Très-Chrêtienne, Auxiliares, & celles des Alliés," regarding the treatment and exchange of the wounded and prisoners of war

Volume 5 contains various letters and documents, including:

  • Descriptions of letters from previous commissioners Allix and Hinde, concerning the settlement of accounts between Britain and France regarding prizes taken at sea after hostilities ended
  • Description of instructions given to Mildmay and William Shirley
  • Copies of letters written by William Mildmay, William Shirley, and Ruvigny de Cosne documenting the progress of the commission. Recipients include secretaries of state the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Newcastle, the Earl of Holderness, and Sir Thomas Robinson

Volume 6 contains various letters and documents, including:

  • Essays primarily focused on commerce in France and abroad
  • "Sur le Commerce" ("On Commerce")
  • "Memoire sur le commerce" ("Memorandum on commerce")
  • "Situation du Commerce Exterieur du Royaume" ("Situation of Commerce Outside of the Kingdom")
  • "Extrait d'un Memoire sur un Projet de Commerce de Negres a Guinée" ("Extract of a Memorandum on a Project of Commerce of Negros at Guinea")

Volume 7 contains various letters and documents, including:

  • Essays and letters primarily about commerce in France and her colonies, as well as relations between France and Britain
  • "Memoire sur le commerce de France, et sur l'état present de ses Colonies en general et en particulier" ("Memorandum on the commerce of France, and on the present state of her Colonies in general and in particular")
  • "Letre à Monsieur Mildmay sur le commerce de St. Domingue, et sur l'état present de cette colonie" ("Letter to Monsieur Mildmay on the commerce of St. Domingo, and on the present state of this colony")
  • Memorandum related to the reasons for the prohibition of foreign commerce between the French colonies and New England in 1727
  • "Lettre à Monsieur Mildmay Commissaire de [S.M.B.] à Paris sur les moyens de conciliation entre les deux courones de France et d'Angleterre, au sujet des contestations presents en Amerique" ("Letter to Monsieur Mildmay, Commissioner at Paris, on the means of conciliation between the two Crowns of France and England, about the present disputes in America")
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