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Biographical details William Upcott (1779-1845) was sub-librarian of the London Institution from 1806 until 1834. He inherited his father's art collection as well as his extensive correspondence with eminent men. This forms the basis of what was, by the 1830s, one of the most celebrated autograph collections in the country. Phillipps made several attempts to buy the collection but was only successful in acquiring a small part of it from the auction at Sotheby's in 1846
Description The collection forms part of the Phillipps naval collection purchased by Sir James Caird for the Museum in 1946. It is made up of four volumes and a file. The volumes are a series of what Upcott himself titled 'Naval Characters', 1652 to 1826. The file, 1588 to 1589, is composed of papers relating to the expedition of Sir Francis Drake (1540?-1596) and Sir John Norris (1547?-1597) to destroy the shipping on the coasts of Spain and Portugal. It includes an order, signed by Lord Burghley (1520-1598) and Sir Francis Walsingham (1530?-1590), jointly addressed to Sir Henry Billinsley (d.1606), Peter Osborne (1521-1592) and Edward Fenton (d.1603), instructing them to supervise the expenditure of the expedition. This is accompanied by various accounts and a list of the men assigned to take part in the action. All four volumes in the 'Naval Characters' series are illustrated with engravings of naval officers. This is essentially an autograph collection, but the papers fall naturally into groups by subject. Chronologically, the papers of the Haddock family make up the first of these groups. Captain William Haddock (fl.1610-1654) served in the Mediterranean under Admiral Robert Blake (1599-1657) and there is an order to him, 1654, signed by Blake and Admiral Sir William Penn (q.v.). Most of the documents, however, consist of approximately thirty orders and letters to Admiral Sir Richard Haddock (1629-1715), son of the above Captain Haddock. These date between 1660 and 1700. Two later letters, 1702, are addressed to a Captain Richard Haddock (d.1751) who was either a nephew or a younger uncle of Sir Richard. The next group consists of over one hundred orders and letters addressed to Admiral Sir John Norris (1660?-1749), relating to operations in the Baltic, 1716 to 1718. There are also minutes from the Councils of War held in 1716. The earliest of a number of letters to Admiral Lord Anson (1697-1762) are dated 1742 and 1743. The latter is a report signed by Captain Philip Saumarez (1710-1747) on the state of the prize Nuestra Senora de Cabadonga. There are over thirty-five letters to Anson altogether, the rest dating between 1745 and 1749. Correspondents include Admiral Thomas Griffin (q.v.), Admiral Sir Piercy Brett (1709-1781), Admiral Sir Charles Knowles (1704-1777) and Lord Hervey (later Vice-Admiral the Earl of Bristol) (1724-1779). About forty letters, 1743 to 1744 and 1755 to 1762, make up the collection of Captain Arthur Forrest (d.1770). Over half of them are from Forrest's naval agent; the rest are mainly orders received. Other than these distinctive groups the 'Naval Characters particularly the third and fourth volumes, is a miscellany. A letter of 1702 is signed by Admiral Sir George Rooke (1650-1709) and other notable letters include one, 1748, from Captain William Montagu (1720?-1757) to his elder brother, the fourth Earl of Sandwich (q.v.), and an exchange of letters in 1767 between Admiral Keppel (q.v.) and his brother. However most of the other single letters accompany engravings and appear to have been collected for their autograph value. The fourth volume, for example, contains many letters addressed to C.J. Barrington who was about to publish the eighth and final volume of Dr John Campbell's Lives of the Admirals and other eminent seamen. Barrington received over a dozen letters signed by senior naval officers of the time, 1811 to 1814, requesting a copy of the book.
Date made

Finding Reference UPC
Catalogue section Artificial collections previously assembled
Creator Phillipps-Upcott
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent Overall: 45 cm
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