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Francis Drake, diplomat: 1794 - 1795.

Just a few days after the loss of Toulon, Drake receives a tart reminder from Whitehall that he must distinguish between the various headings of his disbursements - secret service money, messengers and supplies to the Army - if his accounts are to be accepted. (1700M/CP 328)

Just a few days after the loss of Toulon, Drake receives a tart reminder from Whitehall that he must distinguish between the various headings of his disbursements - secret service money, messengers and supplies to the Army - if his accounts are to be accepted.



Forced out of Toulon, Admiral Hood resolved to seize the French island of Corsica, and this was achieved by August of 1794 after sieges of Bastia and Calvi and joint operations involving Nelson's ships and British troops.

A view of Bastia, the capital of Corsica, in whose capture in 1794 Captain Nelson played a prominent part (from volume II of The Naval Chronicle).
A view of Bastia, the capital of Corsica, in whose capture in 1794 Captain Nelson played a prominent part (from volume II of The Naval Chronicle.)
Image reproduced courtesy of the Westcountry Studies Library.

At Calvi, Nelson lost the sight of his right eye. Not all the British officers thought Corsica mattered, and Captain Holloway told Drake that he could not foresee that good would come from taking Corsica. (1700M/CP 296)

Captain Holloway writes to Drake that he can not foresee that any good will come from taking Corsica.



The following year Drake returns to England to get married and take leave, and the faithful Joseph Brame continues to ply him with reports of events at Genoa. Here is a typical account of news of a French fleet at sea and Brame's conscientious efforts to see if they might affect his local area. (1700M/CP 331)

Here is a typical account of news of a French fleet at sea and Joseph Brame's conscientious efforts to see if they might affect his local area.



While in England Drake evidently ordered some tableware from Wedgewood, for in April he receives a grateful letter from the firm expressing the hope that their goods will arrive safely and give every satisfaction. (1700M/CP 362)

Francis Drake receives a grateful letter from the firm of Wedgewood for the tableware order he has placed with them.



Lord Hood left for England to recover his health at the end of 1794, leaving the command of the British ships to Admiral William Hotham.

In June 1795 Hotham writes to Drake's office telling him that he has sent the Agamemenon with a squadron of frigates to give any necessary assistance to a General Devins who is leading the land operations against the French. Captain Nelson, the officer commanding the squadron, "and of approved abilities" will be able to form a competent judgement of the plans. (1700M/CP 367)

Nelson, painted by J.Hoppner, engraved by J.Cochrane.
Nelson, painted by J.Hoppner,engraved by J.Cochrane.
Image reproduced courtesy of the Westcountry Studies Library.
In June 1795 Hotham writes to Drake's office telling him that he has sent the Agamemenon with a squadron of frigates to give any necessary assistance to a General Devins who is leading the land operations against the French.  Captain Nelson, the officer commanding the squadron, 'and of approved abilities' will be able to form a competent judgement of the plans.



Next month the Admiralty in London sends Admiral Hotham a warning they have intelligence the French may detach 12 ships from Toulon for some purpose, and this must be prevented if possible. (1700M/CP 370)

The Admiralty in London sends Admiral Hotham a warning they have intelligence the French may detach 12 ships from Toulon for some purpose, and this must be prevented if possible.



By now Drake is evidently back in Genoa, for in mid-July Hotham tells Captain Nelson to confer with Drake about his operations with General Devins. He also informs Drake of a successful engagement with the French fleet on 13 July which led to the loss of a French battleship. (1700M/CP 371)

A letter from Admiral Hotham to Drake in which he reports that he has asked Captain Nelson to confer with Drake about his operations with General Devins.  He also informs Drake of a successful engagement with the French fleet on 13 July which led to the loss of a French battleship



Sir William Hamilton writes to Drake on 1st August that he too had heard about the fleet action of 13th July, and he also knew of Drake's return to Genoa. More ships from Naples and Sicily would join Hotham's fleet. (1700M/CP 377)

 Sir William Hamilton writes to Drake on 1st August that he too had heard about the fleet action of 13th July, and he also knew of Drake's return to Genoa.  More ships from Naples and Sicily would join Hotham's fleet.

Visit the next episode in the Drake of Colyton papers, Francis Drake, diplomat: 1795 ~ 1804.


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