1778 – The London Chronicle [17/11/1778]


Admiralty – Office, Nov. 14, 1778

Extracts of dispatches from vice-admiral Montagu comander in chief of his majesty’s ships and vessels at Newfoundland, to Mr. Stephens, received by the Hawke sloop, lately arrived from that island at Spithead.

Extract of a Letter from Vice-Admiral Montagu to Mr. Stephens, dated at St. John’s Newfoundland, October 5, 1778.
FOR the information of my lords commissioners of the admiralty, I beg to acquaint you that as soon as I received certain intelligence that hostilities were commenced by count d’Estaing in North America, I dispatched commodore Evans in the Romney, with the Pallas, Surprise, Martin, and Bonavista armed sloop, under his command, with two field-pieces, a party of artillery, and 200 marines under the command of major Wemys, to put in execution his majesty’s commands to me (under his sign manual) to attack, reduce, and take possession of the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon; which service, I have the honor to acquaint their lordships, he has performed; and enclosed I transmit you a copy of the commodore’s letter to me of the 17th ult. since which I have not heard from hom, owing to the very think fogs and easterly winds which have prevailed these three weeks past. As soon as I can get a particular account from the commodore I will dispatch the Hawke with it.

Captain Linzee of the Surprize, returned from the coast of Labrador on the 9th ult. He was too late on the coast for the privateer he went after, but on his way back took a schooner privaterr of 10 three-pounders, eight swivels, and 40 men, in Trinity-bay, called the Harlequin, belonging to Salem, which I have bought into the service.

Extract of a Letter from Commodore Evans to Vice-Admiral Montagu, dated St. Peter’s road, Sept. 17.

I Arrived here the 14th instant, wich his majesty’s ship under my command, and immediately sent captain Montagu to the governor, to acquaint him, that as the French had committed hostilities in America, I came here to demand a surrender of the islands of St. Peter’s, Miquelon, and its dependencies, to his Britannic majesty, and demanded an answer in half an hour.

The governor sent the inclosed proposals to which I returned the answer also inclosed, and sent captain King of the Pallas, and major Wemyss, with 117 marines and aparty of artillery, to take possession of the place, which aws immediately delivered up to them.

I have not yet been able to get an exact return of the arms and ammunition in the islands; but the number of inhabitants is said to be about 3000, the greater part of them capable of bearing arms.

I have dispatched the Bonavista sloop to Halifax, agreeable to your order, to desire a number of transports may be sent here to carry the inhabitants to France, there being here only two brigs, one snow, and a few small schooners; and the scarcity of provisions in the islands will not admit of victualling properly even the few inhabitants they can contain, neither are there any water casks here fit to hold water in : however, I popose to send away the governor, his council, troops, and principal inhabitants in the vessels that are here, as soon as possible ; but to accomplish that will require more time than was expected.I shall destroy all the fishing-stages, storehouses and shallops, and the houses in the town, as the inhabitants embark from them.

I shall send captain Chamberlayne, of his majesty’s sloop Martin, to Miquelon to-night, if the wind will permit, to send round the civil and military officers to be embarked with the governor for France, when a vessel can be got ready.

Copy of a Letter from the Baron de l’Esperance to Commodore Evans, dated at St. Peter’s, Sept. 14.

It is with the greatest surprise I have received from you a summons to deliver up this government into the possession of his Britannic majesty, not having received advice of a declaration of war between the two nations, from my court. The formidable force you have brought with you, knowing I had it not in my power to oppose it, obliges me to condescend to your summons, on conditions, that myself and the small garrison shall quit with all the honours of war, as the officer who brought your orders has promised.

I flatter myself I may expect from your generosity every thing that is in your power to grant to the unfortunate inhabitants under my care.

In consequence of which, Sir, I demand First, That all the attention in your power may be paid to the officers in the civil and military departments in my government : Secondly, That the inhabitants shall take away their effects from their houses, and also their fish; and that they shall be sent to France in a sufficient number of transports, that there may be no risk of their perishing before their arrival, Thirdly, That we shall enjoy the exercise of our religion during our stay in the colony, Fourthly, That the small number of vessels in these islands shall remain property of their respective proprietors. Lastly, Sir, I expect you will will take care to place proper guards to prevent any insults to my prople. In proof of my condescension to your demand, I send you three hostages, viz. Mons. D’Angeac de la Loge, second captain of the troops; Bertin, officer of the government ; and Des Roches, a principal inhabitant.

Nothing but the appearance of such a squadron could have obliged me to consent to your summons, which I do in order to spare the blood of my colonists, not fearing for myself had I only the feeling of an officer to consult.

PS: I dare hope that you will grant every thing I ask, and send an answer.

Copy of Letter from Commodore Evans, to the Baron de l’Esperance, dated St. John’s- road. Sept. 15.

IN answer to your letter of yesterday, by the officer whom I sent to you, to summons you to surrender the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon to his Britannic majesty, which you have thought proper to do, under particular articles ; agreeable to your request, the troops shall be permitted to march out of th town with all the honours of war ; the officers, civil and military, and the other inhabitants of the town, may remain in their respective houses, till an opportunity offers of sending them to France.

There will be no interruption in the exercise of their religion, and care shall be taken that no insults be given them.
In consideration of my granting you these terms, you shall upon your honor give a true and faithful account of the number of inhabitants, distinguishing their sexes, with an account of all ordnance, arms, ammunition, and all other warlike stores; together with the number of vessels, fishing-boats, fish, oil, and other merchandise, that are in the said islands; all which shal be delivered up to such officers as I may think proper to appoint to receive them, and to be disposed of in such manner as I think proper. And the inhabitants may be assured of all the indulgence it may be in my power to grand them, during their stay on these islands. I shall land a detachment of troops on the islands, when the officer returns, who is charged with this letter, and the hostages will be delivered up as soon as English colours will be hoisted at St. Peter’s.

Extract of a Letter from Vice-admiral Montagu, to Mr. Stephens, dated St. John’s, Oct 16. ( ) his majesty’s ship Guadaloup, that failed ( ) from hence the 7th inst. I did myself the honour to write you by way of Lisbon, and enclosed you a copy of commodore Evan’s letter to me from St. Pierre’s, of the 17th of Sept. with copies of what had passed between him and the governor of that island, to that time. Duplicates of which I transmitted the 8th inst. by a merchant vessel bound to ireland.
On the 11th inst. the commodore arrived here in his majesty’s ship Romney (not thinking it prudent to remain any longer with so large a ship, in that road, so late in the season) , and brought with him his majesty’s ship Pallas, a French letter of marque of 400 tons, and a snow, from Bourdeaux, loaded with provisions for St. Pierre and Miquelon. They both went into St. Pierre’s-road, after the place had surrendered.

I am now to inform you, that the Commodore has (in the vessels he found at St. Pierre’s) embarked the governor and his suite, with the troops and all the principal inhabitants, women and children, amounting in the whole to 932, and sent them to France, before he left the place; and as transports were daily expected from Halifax, to take the remainder of the inhabitants (whom he supposes to be about 1000) he has left the Surprise and Martin to see them embarked, with orders to destroy the houses, stores, &c. that were remaining.

Inclosed I transmit to you an account of the fish and oil found at St. Pierre’s and Miquelon, together with the number of boats and small arms, agreeable to the return made to me by commodore Evants.

No. I. An Account of the Small Arms and Accoutrements found at St. Pierre’s and Miquelon, belonging to the French King, viz. Total number of musquets, 175 ; bayonets, 173 ; cartouch-boxes, 172; swords, 88 ; belts, 106. J. MONTAGU.

No. II. An Account of Shallops, Fish, Oil, and Salt, found at St. Pierre’s and Miquelon, belonging to the Inhabitants of the said Islands, viz. Total number of shallops with fishing decks, 10 ; shallops with fixed decks, 22; shallops without decks, 165l canoes, 82 ; fish in quintals, 16,225 ; oil in hogsheads, 201; salt in hogsheads, 244. J. MONTAGU.

Extract of a Letter from Mr. Paterson, Surgeon of the Pallas, dated St. John’s, Newfoundland, Oct. 19.
« I embraced this opportunity of writing by the Hawke sloop, bound express to England. We arrived at Quebec the 25th of August, after a tedious passage of 13 weeks. We sailed from Portsmouth with 13 sail of transports, on board of which were 1000 foreign troops. 12 sail of which were brought safe, the other, loaded with ordnance stores, we conclude foundered in a hard gale of wind; we staid here two days, to compleat our water, then sailed for St. John’s Newfoundland, where we arrived the 5th September; the 12th we sailed under the command of Commodore Evans, in his Majesty’s ship Romney, Surprise frigate, Martin and Bonavista, for St. Pierre’s, a French settlement in Newfoundland, with orders to take, burn, and destroy all French property. We arrived there the 15th, and took possession of the town, and the 16th send all the inhabitants to France in such vessels as were there; after which we brought away two French ships having previously loaded them with the most valuable things on the island, valued at 12.000 | instead of which, had we had vessels to put the goods, which were on the islands on board of, we might have had three times the sum. As soon as the inhabitants were put on board the vessels we burnt the town, together with several thousand pounds worth of fish. We returned to St. John’s three days ago, and shall sail for Cadiz the 25th, with a convoy; after which we are to return to England, where we hope to be about the beginning of January. »

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Une réflexion sur “1778 – The London Chronicle [17/11/1778]

  • octobre 11, 2010 à 2:45

    John Montagu was born in 1719 in Lackham, Wiltshire, the son of James Montague and a great-great-grandson of the first Earl of Manchester. Montagu entered the Royal Academy at Portsmouth on August 14, 1733 and served on board a number of vessels during the next seven years. He was promoted to lieutenant on December 22, 1740 and assigned to the Buckingham the following February. He attained the rank of commander in March 1744/5, and was made captain in January 1745/6 on board the 40-gun ship Ambuscade, seeing action at Cape Finistre the following May. He saw limited command in the eight years between 1748 and 1756, during which time he served as Member of Parliament for Huntington.

    Montagu returned to active duty in 1757 as captain of the Monarque, and one of his first responsibilities was to carry out the sentence of the court martial of Admiral John Byng (Governor of Newfoundland 1742) who had been found guilty of negligence for his decision to retreat from the French forces at Minorca the previous year. Byng was shot by firing squad on the quarter-deck of the Monarque on March 14.

    Montagu saw action in various European engagements during the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763). In 1770 he was made Rear Admiral of the Blue Squadron and the following year made Commander-in-Chief of the North American station, from the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to Florida and the Bahamas, a position he held until 1776 when he was made Commander-in-Chief and Governor of Newfoundland. In February of that year he was raised to Vice Admiral of the Blue.

    While in charge of the Newfoundland station, Montagu was mainly concerned with protecting the coast and the fishing fleet from American privateers. He succeeded in this by outfitting « a number of the best fast sailing vessels in the trade … as armed cruisers, putting young lieutenants, masters, mates, midshipmen, and petty officers in charge of them. With the men-of-war under his command and these improvised sloops and cutters, he most effectively protected our coasts from the American privateers. » (D.W. Prowse: 1895, pp. 340-1) With the outbreak of renewed hostilities with France in 1778, he ordered the capture of St. Pierre and Miquelon, had the town burned, and the 1392 residents sent back to France.

    His tour of duty in Newfoundland ended in 1778 and he returned to England. From 1783 to 1786 he served as Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth and rose through the admiralty ranks, being made Admiral of the White Squadron on September 24, 1787. He retired to Fareham in Hampshire, where he died on September 7, 1795.

    Montagu married Sophia Wroughton of Wilcot, Wiltshire in 1748. They were the parents of one daughter and four sons. The three younger sons, George (1750-1829), James (1752-1794) and Edward (1755-1799) all followed their father into the service, George reaching the rank of admiral, James captain in the navy and Edward lieutenant-colonel in the army. George served as flag-captain to his father during the latter’s last year at Newfoundland.



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