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Napoleon, Nelson and the Knight

Letter from Admiral Lord Nelson to Sir Pulteney Malcolm

18th Century

Horatio Nelson was a British naval commander, famous for his victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars. Sir Pulteney Malcolm’s ship was being repaired in Gibraltar when the battle of Trafalgar started, and he struggled through a storm to re-join the fleet. Although he arrived too late, his commander said “he was of infinite service after the action.”


Here is a full transcription of the letter, with accompanying notes:


Victory July 9th 1804


Many many thanks for your papers which are very interesting


My Dear Sir The Acheron joined me last night with your letter of June 28th, I am glad you have stopped the making of beds I had not an idea that there was a single bed at Malta ‘till Capt. Keates’ [1] arrival a week ago. I wrote you yesterday about the Rope. I for one am glad at Monarchy [2] under any shape being retired in France it may be better for us, cannot be worse. I am much obliged by your kind offers of service, the Renown will part the moment the weather moderates that I can get water from her.


I am Ever Dear Sir Your most obliged Servant


Nelson & Bronte[3]


To Capt. Malcolm




[1] Possibly Captain Richard Goodwin Keats


[2] Nelson may be referring to political events. Earlier in the year French dragoons had crossed the Rhine and brought Bourbon, Duke of Enghien and heir to the French throne, back to Paris. On 21 March he was executed, so any hope of returning the monarchy to France was gone. In the same month the French senate offered Napoleon the title of Emperor, voting in a law on May 18, 1804 whose first article read: “The government of the Republic is vested in an Emperor, who takes the title of Emperor of the French.”


[3] In July 1799, Nelson was created Duke of Bronté (Duca di Bronté), of the Kingdom of Sicily

Place of Production:
HMS Victory
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Digital Number:
Creation Date:
Dumfries & Galloway Council