Letter from John Lempriere to his brother Thomas in Lisbon
Letter from John Lempriere (1722-1805), British Consul at Faro, to the former British Consul at Faro, his brother, Thomas Lempriere, in Lisbon, 22 Dec 1761.
As part of the global Seven Years’ War and the antagonism between Great Britain and the Bourbon Rule in France and Spain, Britain declared war against Spain on 4 January 1762 and Spain reacted by declaring war against Britain on 18 Jan 1762, with Portugal following by joining the war on Britain’s side.
What followed, in brief:
- Spain, aided by France, invaded Portugal and captured Almeida but Britain’s troops arrived and aided in stalling the Spanish advance. The British and Portuguese subsequently attacked the Spanish in the Battle of Valencia de Alcantara, with the Spanish advance being halted at the heights of Abrantes, known as the pass to Lisbon. The Spanish were ultimately ejected following the Battle of Vila Velha in October 1762 with a truce declared on 22 November 1762.
This letter precedes the official declarations of war and warns the authorities in Lisbon of what effectively appears to be an unofficial declaration of war by the Spanish. This perhaps would not have come as a surprise since Admiral Charles Saunders, in April 1760, had resumed his role as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet and had blockaded Cadiz preventing the French and Spanish fleets from sailing.
John became Consul around 1760 and it seems that Thomas, his predecessor, retained some official capacity in Lisbon.
- Dear Brother
- After shutting the inclosed packet for the post, Jose Perreira, whom I had sent express over land to Gibraltar with the packet you sent me from Sir Henry Frankland for Admiral Saunders, returned without any answer to any of the Letters I had delivered him saying he had delivered my letter to Mr Goldsworthy at Cadiz last wednesday morning, and one day after another detained him till Saturday, when the Justice came to confine him to his house, but had the good luck to deliver the packet and letters to Jose Coelho who happened to be there, he slipt out, and went immediately on board and concealed them, as you will see by the inclosed copy of what he wrote to his father, Captain Sebastian Coelho, to which refers, by this you see there is a war declared, all the merchants are confined to their houses and the Consul with a guard at his door and not permitted pen,ink and paper and a general embargo on all ships, even fishing boats included, they say till nine ships of the line are equipped and gone out for which they work with the utmost diligence, this is what the Proprio tells me, which I have thought proper to acquaint you by express, which I send with all diligence to acquaint Sir Henry Frankland, that all his Majestys subjects trading to Spain may be apprized and likewise the commanders and officers of His Majestys ships,
- I remain very Sincerely
- Your most affectionate brother, signed John Lempriere.