This, the second of three volumes of the correspondence of George Brydges Rodney, covers the admiral's life from the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 until August 1780. This was perhaps his most eventful, extraordinary and controversial period; from being a successful admiral, a member of Parliament and the Governor of Greenwich Hospital, Rodney plunges into debt and a debtor's exile in France, only to rise again as a victorious admiral and as a national hero. At the end of the Seven Years War Rodney was disappointed and bitter at the failure of the British government to reward him for his prominent part in the capture of Martinique and other French islands in the West Indies. He was made baronet in 1764 and governor of Greenwich Hospital in 1765. He had already been a member of Parliament for Saltash in 1751-4, and sat for Okehampton, Penryn and Northampton consecutively between 1759 and 1774. In 1768 he was involved in one of the most costly elections in eighteenth century parliamentary history. He secured election at Northampton, but his finances were broken. Furthermore, he had begun to gamble heavily and, with a limited income, fell into the hands of moneylenders. In 1770 he attempted to recoup his finances by becoming Commander-in-Chief at Jamaica. Nevertheless in the West Indies until 1774 Rodney managed a successful period of diplomacy with Spain, of intelligence gathering, and of navigational surveying especially off the coast of Florida. Even so, he returned to England deeply in debt and was forced to flee to France to escape his creditors. The war with the American colonies proved to be Rodney's salvation. After war with France had broken out, in 1779 the British government was desperate for an admiral who could fight and win battles. Rodney was appointed Commander-in-Chief in the Leeward Islands. His success in battle and skillful conduct of the naval war in the West Indies in 1780 restored Rodney's public standing. The stage was set for his most famous victory, the Battle of the Saintes in 1782, and the restoration of his private finances. George Brydges Rodney had gone through a dramatic change of fortunes. The character of that man is revealed here. This volume will permit re-assessment of this outstanding British admiral of the American War of Independence for a new generation of historians.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; Part I Between the Wars, 1763-1778; Part II The Relief of Gibraltar, March 1779-March 1780; Part III The Leeward Islands, March 1780-August 1780. Appendix: List of documents and sources; Index.
David Syrett was formerly from the Graduate Centre, City University of New York, USA.
’The completion of the three-volume Rodney Papers series will plug a yawning gap in the published primary source literature about the eighteenth-century Royal Navy... We are well accustomed to high-quality publications from the Navy Records Society, which has now been producing such volumes for well over a century. This volume more than meet the standards of its predecessors. David Syrett, in addition to making a careful selection from the previously unpublished manuscripts, contributed three substantial essays that do an excellent job of explaining the documents and sorting out their potentially confusing historical contexts.’ International Journal of Maritime History ’this enlightening and important volume... a very scholarly work which will be of great value to students of the period and which forms a worthy addition to the Society’s catalogue.’ Mariner's Mirror