Spencer was First Lord of the Admiralty 1794-1801, virtually throughout the wars against Revolutionary France, and his correspondence with officers and politicians is of central importance to the naval history of the times.
These volumes continue Spencer’s correspondence up to 1801 when he left office with the fall of Pitt’s ministry. This includes St Vincent and his officers, the Mediterranean and Indian waters.
Sir Herbert Richmond was described as “perhaps the most brilliant naval officer of his generation” who became a naval historian, known as “the British Mahan”. He led the Royal Navy’s intellectual revolution that stressed continuing education, especially in naval history, as essential for an understanding of naval strategy. He acted as a “Gadfly” to the Admiralty, and his criticisms caused him to be denied the role in the formation of policy and the reform of naval education which his abilities warranted.