The Fourth Earl of Sandwich was First Lord of the Admiralty (for the third time in his long career) from 1771 to 1782. Blamed by the Whig opposition for many of the disasters of the American War, he was additionally loaded by 19th-century Whig historians with the false image of a corrupt libertine.
It was the publication of these volumes of his correspondence and papers (then in the family home, now in the National Maritime Museum), covering the years 1771 to 1782, which restored his reputation as a conscientious and imaginative naval administrator and reformer, especially of the dockyards and of the timber question. Without entirely rescuing his status as a strategist, they showed very clearly the weaknesses at the heart of the North administration which damaged its handling of the war, and undermined Sandwich’s efforts.
A fifth volume intended to cover his handling of naval patronage was overtaken by the war.
This volume is from March 1778 to May 1779.