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Letter, Susanna Westcott to son Benjamin III
quoting his brother Captain G. B. Westcott

The widowed Susanna Westcott writes from Honiton to her son Benjamin III and daughter-in-law Martha,
living in Holborn, London. The letter (partly quoting his words) relates how her oldest son, Captain George Blagdon Westcott, has handled a recent naval mutiny. She also enquires about their young son
Ben (Benjamin IV), who is serving in the Navy.

August 6th 1797

Dear Son & Daughter.

As I think I shall have an opportunity of sending soon, I am Willing to let you know the great anziety of mind all hear have had Concerning the Captain, Some time past their were several Ships belonging to his little Squadron were in a state of Mutiny, and we Rec'd a Letter saying that for some time he did not know one hour what would happen the next, when the Fleet was order'd in, some to Plymouth and some to Portsmouth, Lord Bridport ordered the Majestic to be put in to Torbay; the Mutineers Rose all up in Arms hung up a Blue Flag. And declar'd the Ship should not go in, some disperate Fellows took the command entirely from your Brother, & he [s]ay's [quotation follows]

had you seen me among them ordering the blue Flag down & declearing that the ship should not be carried contarary with me alive'd . I Reasoned with them and pleaded my much vehemency as I did not think was in me Amidst a general Cry of go in, go in, go in --- in to his cabin --- I told them it was their live's I was pleading for and not my own. I promis'd them to do every thing that was right for them and to stand by them to the last drop of my blood I gain'd on hard terms till the next Day & found them still disparate for they had taken an oath to stand by each other altho that one[?] half of them did not know the Meaning of it, to be short I cal'd all hands upon deck & got the ringleaders close to me & advis'd them particularly & told them the oath they had taken & how it was explain'd in another Ship belonging to the fleet --- Eight men whose names the Captain knows --- After the oath engaged the first opportunity to Bath their hands in the Captain's Blood, with the hope of being up to their knees in blood for a Week after --- said I --- is this Right.


I cannot describe to you the exclamation of horror from the few friends that had not join'd them. Which made the ring leaders Tremble --- As I had them close to me And adres'd them Particularly --- I have those in the Ship who will support me to the last hour of their lives --- & I dare tell you so --- If those are your Principles, I will tell you mine --- They are to obey the Laws of God & of my King & Country --- To do Justice --- be Merciful --- suppress Tyranny & oppression to the last of my life --- & to be friends of all that would join me in thus by holding up their hands, --- I cannot describe this to you --- But I have the rascals now, if they move a finger --- my Trusty friends will not trouble me about it some think I have been too Merciful to them but If I could tell you all you would not think so --- And their will be serious Examples enough without any from me for I endeavour'd to save the [???] of all as far as in my power, And I have the satisfaction that Lord Bridport approved of my conduct ---

Most part of this was wrote before we rec'd your Letter - I am very happy to hear the dear boy is return'd safe with his head on his Shoulders and all his limbs perfect Am sorry Captain Milford did not treat him kindly, hope you have not behav'd ill on board his ship, you says you come home in the vanguard . I want to know If the capt'n knew of your coming home, and how you got your passage to Chatham, Dear Son we all desire you to put Ben to school untill your Sister Lots Can hear from your Brother as he went out with sail'd orders & we have not herd from him since, and she will write to him the first opportunity, after we have herd were to send to him, I thought to have sent this by a friend, but shall now send it by post pray give my love to Cousin S[asvi?]y & tell her she shall have a long letter when her brother sends to her which will be very soon and I shall send again to you at the same time or before if I hear from the Captain I remain yours very affectionately

S. Westcott

Source: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich