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Lieutenant Benjamin Westcott
Letter to Parents 1804

In this letter, written while on active service in the Caribbean, young Benjamin proudly tells his parents that he has been promoted from Midshipman to Lieutenant. He describes his role in fortifying the Diamond Rock (Martinique), asks for additional clothing, and enquires about his family and friends.

[to] Mr Benj Westcott,
No 5 Elm Street,

[via] Liet Bennet,
Command the Nimrod

H M Sloop Fort Diamond
5th May at Barbadoes [1804]

Dear Father & Mother

I Suppose you think it an Age since I Wrote last but you wont think it the worst letter you ever got from me when I say I am made a Lieutenant. I suppose you know by the Papers that the Romney has run down the Coast of Africa and Arrived in the West Indies the 12th of February during which time I've had no Opportunity of Writing to you. Not to my Surprise We found a Want of Mid who had served their time. Three of us who had Pass'd in England where Immediately sent on board the Centaur Commodore Hood's Ship And on the 1st of March I rec'd my Appointment
address on letter, 1804

Now I have to Explain to you this famous Rock which no doupt by this time you have seen a great deal about in the Papers. It is Situated near Martinique. The Commodore began to fortify it 5 or 6 weeks before I joined his Ship. It is very high and difficult to ascend I believe there's not a man in Existence Except the Commodore would have undertook to get Guns to the Top which he has to 18 Prs And that with the materials of a Seventy four Gun Ship. The Commodor[e's] Captain, Maxwel by Name has been heard to speak highly of me on Account of my Attention and Activity in getting the Said Guns up and Mounting them Which I was Employ'd about Ten days before I was Appointed. The Commodore has Put this Rock Diamond on the Establishment of a Sloop of War & Appointed his first Lieut as Cap't and me has a Lieut of H M S Fort Diamond Which is her Name Now. The Fort Diamond Is Allow'd a Sloop Mount'g 6 Guns which is likewise Call'd the Fort Diamond but Consider'd as One. This Sloop is for the Purpose of Supplying the Rock with Water and other Necessary Supplys when not Employ'd in that way She is to Cruize as the Captain thinks Proper to drect . This Sloop I have the Sole Charge of and Command only to follow the Orders and directions of my Captain.

Midshipmen are again Enabled to pass in the West Indies. Three of the Romney's has Pass'd Five of us Appointed the Other soon will be. As I always said the West Indies for Promotion. The Rock is very healthy I dont wish to leave the West Indies as long as the War last's . I shall begin by and by to look for a Captains Commission. Nothing but a few hard blows will get it though-- As I am likely to remain in the West Indies I shall want a Supply of Linnen, Hosiery, &c by & by The West Indies being so dear a Place. I wish if possoble to be supplyd by you and I can Manage to remit the Money. The only way I should wish to receive anything from Engand is by the Convoy which always sail from Portsmouth. If you could by any means put things of the Kind on board the Man of War going with the Convoy its being directed to Lieut. Westcott would be Sufficient it would be taken care of and deliver'd free from Expence. The Person putting it on board Enquiring for the first Lieut. If this cant be done I must do the best I can I Should likewise wish that Mr Gorden Taylor Should Supply me in his Way and Perhaps he can be of some assistance as to the manner of Conveyance.

Not Withstanding Grand Mother was so Ill When last I heard from you I am still in hopes She is liveing as I know She will be Glad to hear of my being made and that without Interest or Recommendation. Captain Brown is the Strictest Man I ever Sail'd with still I can say through Attention to my duty he has spoke highly of me to the Commodore. What I have said About sending things out to me you need not take any Notice of untill you hear again from me. It is Cap't Brown's Wish that I Should Appoint his Agents Omaney and Druce in Co. Cecil Stt Strand London. If my letters at any time should miscarry you may hear of me from them-- Davis of the Lapwing which you have heard me speak of and used to Write to me when at home Is likewise made, into the Romney-- Let me know in your next whether Liut Bennett is Empd -- and in what Ship. [N]ow I shall think of finishing with des[iri]ng not to make yourself's uneasy on my Account I'm doupt less[?] fair way of doing very well and in a Perfect good state of Health. As I hope it will find you and all Relations about you, Friends Acquaintances &c-- Take the first Opportunity of going as far as Vauxhall Walk with my respectful Compliment to Mr and Mrs Westcott and tell Miss Westcott I shall take the Earliest Opportunity after my Arrival in England to come and se her hoping still to find her my Name sake. Dont deceive me in this as I am Sincere I Expect to hear something of it in your next

This letter has been wrote some time without an Opporty of sending it. I think of nothing at present but Whats already Mention'd Except still in good Health & high Spirits Your Dutyful and Affectionate Son

B Westcott

BUT ... Benjamin lost his ship (read the full story)