1778: George Long to Charles Long

Real Admiral Augustus Keppel

An interesting letter written in 1778 alluding to the ongoing engagement between England and France in the years following the Seven Years War that ended in 1763. In this letter, British sailor George Long describes the success of British privateers in disrupting the trade of French merchant ships. He appears to have been a crew member in the fleet commanded by Rear Admiral Augustus Keppel, about to be promoted to Vice Admiral.

Stampless Cover

Addressed to Mr. Charles Long, Bishopsgate Street, London

Plymouth Sound
August 20, 1778

Dear Charles,

I received your Father’s & your letters which gave me great pleasure to hear you were all well after your journey. We sail tomorrow to give the French another drubbing if they dare meet us. I believe the French rejoicings were for their having escaped so well instead of their having obliged us to run away. I dare say they will have no occasion to rejoice after the next action. Mr. [Augustus] Keppel will convince them he is alive in a manner not very agreeable to them perhaps.

The Privateers bring in prizes here every day. A sail of their merchantmen came in here yesterday taken by his majesty’s ship Exeter in sight of the French Coast. I suppose we shall meet the West India fleet coming home. Their convoy went past here a week ago all well. You may depend upon hearing from me if we do meet them.

I am, dear Charles, yours affectionately, — George Long


2 responses to “1778: George Long to Charles Long

  • Stephen N.

    I think you have misdated this letter; it’s almost certainly 1778 when Britain and France were at war rather than 1770 when they were at peace. Were the British privateers taking French ships in 1770 there certainly would have been war! If you look at the entry for Augustus Keppel in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography it says “In August [1778] Keppel wrote to Sandwich praising the efforts of all his admirals in getting the fleet ready to sail again from Portsmouth. Keppel, hoping for a more conclusive encounter with the French, sailed again with the fleet on 23 August.” This jibes well with the date of this letter.

    Wonderful site — thank you for creating it!

    • Griff

      Stephen, I’m sure you are correct. While the date certainly looks like 1770, the circumstances — as you state — suggest otherwise. I’ll make the correction. Thank you for your input.

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