Collection ID: LMC 2038
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Collection context


Vernon, Edward, 1684-1757, Newcastle, Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of, 1693-1768, Stone, Andrew, 1703-1773, and Great Britain. Navy Board
The Vernon mss., 1737-1740, consists of contemporary copies and extracts of the correspondence between Admiral Edward Vernon, 1684-1757, and the Great Britain Navy Board.
1 bound
Materials are in English .
Preferred citation:

[Item], Vernon mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


Biographical / Historical:

Edward Vernon, 1684-1757, was an English naval officer. He was born on November 12, 1684 in Westminster, the son of James Vernon and Mary Buck. He entered the Royal Navy in 1700 and served as a volunteer on HMS Shrewsbury. During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), he served on several ships and was promoted to the rank of captain. In 1722, Vernon became a member of Parliament for the borough of Penryn. Vernon's most notable naval victory came in 1739 during the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1748). Having been promoted again to the rank of vice admiral, Vernon was given command of a fleet of six ships, stationed at the Jamaica Station in Port Royal, Jamaica. On November 21, 1739, Vernon and his fleet quickly captured the town of Porto Bello, Panama, from the Spanish. The victory earned him widespread fame; however, his triumph was soon followed by a disastrous amphibious campaign at Cartagena, Colombia in 1741. Vernon was promoted a final time to admiral in 1745, but after publishing two controversial pamphlets airing his grievances about the navy, he was released from service on April 11, 1746. He spent the remainder of his life serving in Parliament and remaining active in naval affairs. He died on October 30, 1757.

In addition to his naval career, Vernon is credited with the invention of "grog." In order to reduce drunkenness on his ship, Vernon watered down his sailors' rum ration. They named the resulting drink after Vernon's nickname, "Old Grog," given to him on account of the grogham coats he usually wore. Vernon is also the namesake of the Washington family estate, Mount Vernon. George Washington's half-brother Lawrence Washington had served under Vernon during the Cartagena campaign, and he named the estate in honor of his commanding officer.

Scope and Content:

Other correspondents are Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st duke of Newcastle, 1693-1768, prime minister, and Andrew Stone, 1703- 1773, undersecretary of state. Included are three accounts of orders relating to the navy issued from the office of the Lord High Admiral or the Secretary of State, 1739, Dec. 26- 1740, Aug. 7 (leaves 81-84), 1737, Feb. 1-1740, Nov. 25 (leaves 87-104), and 1739, June 8-1740, Nov. 25 (leaves 107-126). Copied largely by Thomas Pearse, Jr., assistant to the clerk of the accounts, the volume bound in suede has 127 numbered leaves and measures 31 cm.

Many of Vernon's letters, written chiefly from Port Royal, Jamaica, on board the Burford are concerned with the problems of obtaining naval stores for his fleet. Frequent mention is made of the prize ship Astrea and putting the ship into the service of Great Britain. Another matter of interest was a model for a hospital which "in case of a long war [would] be a means of preserving many mens lives" proposed by Vernon in a letter of Jan. 18-31, 1739 (leaf 4).

Official orders from London to several naval officers including Sir Chaloner Ogle, Nicholas Haddock, Sir John Balchen, Sir John Norris, and Edward Vernon at different times directed assistance for the settlement of the Royal African Company, the raising of colonial troops in America, some to be under the command of Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia, the defense of the colonies of Carolina and Georgia from the French and Spanish, the taking of Spanish azogues ships near the Bay of Biscay, the convoying of Lord Cathcart's troops to the West Indies, the landing of Colonel Oglethorpe's regiment in Georgia, the protection of Mediterranean trade in the vicinity of the Gibraltar, Minorca, and Majorca, and directed that Admirals Haddock and Vernon should attempt "to burn & destroy the Spanish ships in the Harbour of Carthagena" (leaves 108 & 109).

Acquisition information:
Purchase: 1971

This collection is arranged following original order.

Physical location:
Lilly - Stacks



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[Item], Vernon mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana University Bloomington
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Bloomington, Indiana 47405-5500, USA
Indiana University Bloomington
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