Benezet family papers  1729-1839
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Collection Scope and Content Note

These 2 letter books (8" x 13") contain orders and letters that Captain John Brand Umfreville of the Royal Navy wrote and received while commanding the HMS Childers , an 18-gun brig-sloop, in the Caribbean and along the English coast during and just after the War of 1812. Each volume is comprised of 2 sections, beginning from the front and back covers, and the contents are copied in several hands. The titles written on the four covers are "Letters Written," "Letters Received," "Orders Given," and "Orders Received."

The "Letters Written" section (41 pages) contains outgoing letters that Umfreville and his lieutenants wrote from May 1814-February 1817. Most of the correspondence concerns provisions and personnel during the ship's service at Nassau, Bahamas; Pensacola, Florida; Havana, Cuba; and Spithead, England. Two supplementary tables provide lists of men onboard the Childers who had served in the Royal Navy since 1804 and who claimed the right to be discharged because of their foreign citizenship (pp. 26-27). Later letters relate to a sailor who claimed to be of Danish origin and to Portuguese officials' accusation that the commanders of the Childers had insulted them near the Azores.

John Brand Umfreville's incoming letters (August 1814-February 1817, 16 pages) pertain to administrative issues onboard the Childers . His subordinate officers provided information about the ship's provisions and his commanding officers discussed American prisoners of war, ship arrivals, and ship movements. A letter of January 14, 1817, requests Umfreville's account of the alleged incident with the Portuguese in the Azores.

The third section, "Orders Issued," dates from May 1814-June 1815 (23 pages). Umfreville most frequently ordered his purser and lieutenants to conduct surveys of clothing, food, tobacco, and other supplies onboard the Childers and to procure extra supplies when necessary.

Incoming orders (April 1814-June 1815, 13 pages) relate to the ship's movements and to changes in the Royal Navy hierarchy. In July 1814, Umfreville was ordered to sail to the mouth of the Mississippi River to conduct a blockade of American ports. A letter of July 20, 1814, reported news of American atrocities against British citizens in Upper Canada and ordered the Childers to respond by destroying towns along the southern coast of the United States. Other orders reflect the ship's movements around the Caribbean and its return to England in June 1815.

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