3 December 2003
NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Autograph letter signed to 'My Dearest Lady Hamilton', 'Victory at Sea', 16 May 1805, 3 pages, 4to (a few tiny splits in folds, dust-stains on blank verso of second leaf).
NELSON FORMALLY ENTRUSTS HIS DAUGHTER HORATIA TO LADY HAMILTON.
'As it is my desire to take my adopted daughter Horatia Nelson Thompson from under the care of Mrs Gibson and to place her under your Guardianship in order that she may be properly educated and brought up I have therefore most earnestly to entreat that you will undertake this charge'.
Nelson proposes to give Mrs Gibson (who had looked after Horatia since a few days after her birth) an annuity of £20, to be arranged by Haslewood 'for the term of her natural life' and conditional upon her delivering the child, otherwise 'I do not hold myself bound to give her one farthing and I shall most probably take other measures'. He also suggests Miss Connor (Emma Hamilton's cousin) as Horatia's governess, and will make her an allowance.
An important letter, in which Nelson takes steps to make it possible for Horatia to live with Lady Hamilton at Merton Place, by preserving the 'official' version of her parentage. In another formal letter to Emma written the previous August he described her as 'a child left to my care and protection' to whom the Hamiltons had become attached. He confirmed the instructions for the annuity in a letter of the same date to William Haslewood, his solicitor, and also placed £4000 in his will in trust for the child with Haslewood, the interest to be paid to Lady Hamilton for her education. His desire for Horatia to join her mother, expressed in a number of letters, may not have been entirely reciprocated by Emma who, engaged on a round of social activities, did not execute his wishes until August 1805, when Nelson saw Horatia on his last visit to Merton. The spelling of the child's fictitious surname with a 'p' ['Thompson'] is probably a slip of the pen as elsewhere he wrote it as 'Thomson'.
The present letter is presumably the enclosure to the private letter to his 'Dearest Beloved Emma' dated 18 May, where he describes it as 'that sort of letter which may be shown any where or to any body' (see lot 156).
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