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Eyre Coote papers, 1775-1925 (majority within 1775-1830)

21 linear feet

The Eyre Coote papers contain the military, family, and estate material of Sir Eyre Coote, a prominent British officer who participated in the Revolutionary war and many military expeditions in the early 19th century. The papers include military commissions, letters and letterbooks, orderly books, journals, notebooks, diaries, financial accounts, genealogical material, estate and legal papers, newspapers, and maps.

The Eyre Coote papers consist of 41 boxes containing 1,925 numbered items, covering Eyre Coote’s military papers and family and estate material. These include: 13 Eyre Coote military commissions; 1,160 military letters, mostly to Coote; 22 letterbooks, containing copies of Coote’s correspondence, predominately to military and political figures; 69 orderly books covering Coote’s career from 1775 to 1809; 35 journals, notebooks, and diaries recording expedition details, day-to-day activities, and financial accounts; 14 items of genealogical material; 359 family letters; 200 financial papers; 235 estate and legal papers; 26 bound family and estate volumes; 83 newspapers, nearly all collected by Eyre Coote (1857-1925) with various references to either Sir Eyre Coote or the Coote family; and 40 maps.

The Military Papers series contains the letters, letterbooks, orderly books, and journals of Eyre Coote; these papers are organized into five subseries. See Additional Descriptive Data for a timeline of Eyre Coote's military placements.

The Commissions subseries (13 items) is comprised of Eyre Coote's official military commissions, from his assignment as an adjutant in the 37th Regiment in 1778 to his appointment as colonel of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment in 1810. Such notable officers as William Howe, Henry Clinton, Thomas Townshend, William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, and Thomas Pelham signed these documents.

The Military Correspondence and Documents subseries (1160 items) consists of letters and documents concerning Coote's activities in the British military. These cover his role in the Revolutionary War with the 37th Regiment; his expedition to Egypt and the Mediterranean; his governorship in Jamaica; and his service in England, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Item types include letters from all ranks of the British army and navy; copies of letters written by Coote; accounts and receipts for supplies and payment of Coote's regiments; general orders, instructions, regulations, and memoranda; and copies of addresses given to various military and political audiences. Correspondence topics include notable military events and division maneuvers; regimental management, reviews and inspections; disciplinary actions and courts martial; capture and requests for parole; appointments, promotions, the purchases of ranks; military intelligence; soldier defections; and health and sickness of soldiers and family.

Notable material includes:
  • A Loyalist poem entitled "An address to Americans" [1775]
  • Revolutionary War items concerning the 37th Regiment in Virginia and Pennsylvania (1776-1782)
  • Private six-page memorandum containing Coote's description of landing near Ostend, his destroying the gates, and his subsequent capture (May 1798)
  • Letters between Coote and John Hely-Hutchinson concerning the British/French conflict in Egypt, including 5 reports from Coote on the state of the Abū Qīr Hospital (March 1801)
  • Material documenting Coote's governorship of Jamaica, such as letters from British Administration at Downing Street, including one item from Robert Stewart Castlereagh warning of the likelihood of a "negro insurrection" (April, 4, 1807), and material related to slavery and the slave trade in the West Indies
  • Letters describing the attack and unsuccessful occupation of Walcheren, Netherlands, (1809)
  • Two printed reports on the parliamentary inquiry into the Walcheren expedition (published 1811)

This series contains two printed items: two findings of the parliamentary inquiry into the Walcheren expedition, published in 1811.

The Letter Books subseries (22 volumes) consists of books with copies of letters to and from Coote concerning his military activities (1786-1809).

These letter books largely document Coote's correspondence with other British officers and regiments, while he was stationed at the following locations:
  • Bandon, Ireland, 1796-1798
  • Ostend, Netherlands, 1798
  • Dover, England, 1798-1801
  • Alexandria, Egypt, 1801
  • Southampton, England, 1800-1801
  • Athlone, Loughrea, Castlebar, Fermoy and Cork, Ireland, 1803-1804
  • Jamaica, 1805-1808
  • Walcheren, Netherlands, 1809

Many of the copied letters concern other British officers, including: Major Boulter Johntone, Captain Thomas Neill, Lieutenant Thomas Walsh, and Lieutenant Colonel William Yorke, among others. Of note are copies of messages from the Jamaican House of Assembly with Coote's replies and speeches (21 October 1806 -- 5 April 1808).

The Order Books subseries (69 volumes) consists of regimental and battalion orderly books and rosters, as well as books of general orders.

Below is a list of the regiments and missions documented in this series:
  • 37th Regiment of Light Infantry's activities in Dublin, Ireland; York Island [Manhattan], New York; and Elkton, Maryland; their march towards Chadds Ford, New Jersey; their participation in the Battle of Brandywine; and their efforts at Germantown, Philadelphia, Jamaica [Long Island], and New York City, 1775-1779
  • Battalion Order Book: Staten Island; at sea; James Island; Drayton House; William’s House; Charleston; Monk’s Corner; Philipsburg, South Carolina; and Flushing, New York, 1779-1781
  • 47th Regiment at New York and later at various English cities: Lancaster; Preston; Warrington; Warrington [Cheshire]; Whitehaven [Cumbria]; Whitehaven; Drogheda; and Limerick, Ireland, 1781-1785
  • Also a duty roll of the 56th and 47th Regiments for 6 September 1783
  • Standing orders for the 70th or Surrey Regiment, 1786
  • Standing orders for the Sussex Regiment of militia, 1792
  • General Order Book of the expedition to the West Indies, 1793-1794, with headquarters in Barbados, Guadeloupe, and Port Royal, Martinique
  • General and Garrison Order Book of the regiment garrisoned at Dover, Canterbury, Bandon and Dunmanway, Cork, throughout 1797-1799
  • General Order Book for the expedition to Ostend, Netherlands,1798-1799
  • General and battalion orders for the expedition to Helder, Netherlands, headquartered at Schagerburg and Helder
  • General orders for the expedition to Egypt, at sea on board HMS Kent, and at headquarters in Alexandria, 1800-1801
  • General and district orders for the regiment garrisoned at Dublin, Cork, and the south-western district, Ireland, 1804
  • General orders for the regiment intended for the West Indies, including Jamaica, 1805-1808
  • General orders for the regiment intended for Walcheren Island, Netherlands, expedition, garrisoned at Portsmouth, London, and ‘at sea’ and later at headquarters in Middleburg and on Walcheren Island. Endorsed ‘Lieut.-Colonel [Thomas] Walsh', 1809
This subseries holds 3 printed items:
  • A list of the General and Field Officers, as they Rank in the Army. Printed by J. Millan, London, 1758 (160 pages).
  • Standing Orders to be Observed in the 47th (or Lancashire) Regiment, by Order of Lieutenant-Col. Paulus Æmilus Irving. Printed by Edward Flin, opposite Quay-Lane, Limerick, 1785. (40 pages with additional blank forms of documents).
  • Regimental Standing Orders, Issued by the Field Officers and to be Observed by the 70th (or Surry [sic]) Regiment of Foot. And to be Read to the Men, with the Articles of War. Printed by Catherine Finn, Kilkenny, 1788 (50 pages with additional blank forms of documents).

The Journals and Notebooks subseries (35 items) contains journals, notebooks, and diaries related to both military and personal matters. Eyre Coote kept many volumes that contain his remarks and reflections on regiments, forts, and military expeditions lead by him. Fellow officers, including Major General Archibald Campbell, Major Henry Worsley, and Lieutenant Thomas Walsh, kept the other journals. Of particular interest are two of Walsh's journals kept during Coote's expedition to Egypt; these contain numerous maps of the region and sketches and watercolors of cities, landmarks, and monuments in Egypt and along the Mediterranean coast (June-December 1801). Locations mentioned are Alexandria, Egypt; Ceuta, Spain; Houat, France; Marmaris, Turkey; Tangiers, Morocco; and Valletta, Malta. Monuments pictured include the Grecian mausoleum at Marci; the Great Sphinx; the Great Pyramids of Giza; Pompey’s pillar; Cleopatra’s needle; Porte des Bombes; Palace of the Grand-Masters; and funeral monuments for various Grand Masters of the Order of St. John in Malta. Also of interest are 10 volumes recording Coote’s daily movements and his expenses (1784-1800).

The Family and Estate Material series contains genealogical materials, family correspondence, financial papers, and personal journals and notebooks; these are organized into five subseries.

The Genealogy Material and Notes subseries (14 items) consists of documents relating to Coote family genealogy. Among the 14 items are a 17th-18th century genealogical chart, a volume entitled Memoirs of the Anchent and Noble family of Coote (late 18th century), the wills of Reverend Chidley Coote (1730) and Sir Eyre Coote (1827), and memoranda of biographical information on Coote and the Coote family. The series also contains locks of hair from Eyre Coote's immediate family, and two official Coote seals.

The Family Correspondence subseries contains letters concerning various members of the Coote family.

These letters are arranged by correspondent in the following groups:
  • Coote, Eyre, Sir, 1726-1783, to Susan Hutchinson Coote
  • Coote, Eyre, Sir, 1759-1823
  • Coote, Jane Bagwell
  • Fordingbridge Yeomanry Cavalry (1830-1833)
  • Miscellaneous

The correspondence of Coote’s second wife Jane and his son Eyre are also catalogued under a separate heading. The remaining correspondence concerns Eyre Coote’s (d. 1834) education, and the organization of the Fordingbridge Yeomanry Cavalry.

The Financial Papers subseries contains 200 items largely grouped into bundles of bills and receipts for Eyre Coote and Lady Jane Coote's expenses. These include receipts for a service of china, a list of personal jewelry, and a veterinary bill for Coote's horses.

The Estate and Legal Papers subseries is organized into three groups: the Estates in Ireland (1798-1827); the Estates in England (1807-1828); and the Estate and family papers (1897-1925). These papers include letters and documents concerning leases and rent payments, property sales, land disputes, feuding tenants, land use (agriculture), property development, wills and estate transfers, and banking matters. This subseries also contains published correspondence between Coote's family and their legal representative, A plain statement of facts, relative to Sir Eyre Coote (London, 1816), relating to Coote's prosecution for indecency (1815-1816).

Lady Jane Coote handled many letters concerning the estates in Ireland, including decisions regarding raising or reducing rent and managing accounts that were in arrears. Other Ireland material includes 28 half-yearly accounts prepared by the firm Dublin and Maryborough, covering 1796-1817. The England papers largely concern the West Park property, which were largely handled by Eyre Coote. Of note are the audited income and expenditure accounts for West Park, prepared by William Baldwin (1815-1822) and a wine cellar inventory book (1810-1839 and 1966). Estate and family papers document Eyre Coote's (1857-1925) handling of the Coote properties.

The Family, Estate, and Financial Bound Volumes subseries contains the bound estate papers and the personal journals and notebooks of the Coote family. Estate volumes include an item containing copies of wills and accounts, and 5 lists of tenants at the Coote's West Park estate and their Irish estates. Among the personal items are two journals kept by Eyre Coote (1806-1834) that contain his observations of Italy and Switzerland (1821), and a sketchbook of pencil and ink drawings of coastlines, towns, boats, antiquities, buildings, and volcanoes, which he made while sailing in the Mediterranean. Financial volumes include private account books of Eyre Coote (1830-1864) and of his son Eyre Coote (1857-1925) and accounts for their West Park estate.

The Newspapers series contains 83 newspaper clippings, nearly all collected by Eyre Coote (1857-1925), with various references to either Sir Eyre Coote or the Coote family. These clippings span from 1766-1926 and come from 24 different publications (see Additional Descriptive Data for a complete list). Articles document honors bestowed upon the Coote family, death notices for members of the Coote family, and reports of Eyre Coote's activities in the House of Lords and in the military. Of note is an item mentioning the first Sir Eyre Coote's defeat of Hyder Ali at Porto Novo, Benin (The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, December 18, 1781); a "Law Report" concerning Major Armstrong's attempt to summon Coote for a duel (The Times, June 11, 1801); and 16 items related to the Walcheren Expedition and Coote's attack on Flushing, Netherlands (The Morning Chronicle, July 1809-April 1810).

The Maps series (40 items) consists of maps of England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and locations in the Mediterranean, including Egypt and Asia Minor (Turkey). Thirty-three maps are housed to the Map Division (see Additional Descriptive Data for list of maps). Additionally, the collection contains 63 maps found within the military papers, orderly books, journals, and notebooks. These have been cataloged and can be found in the University of Michigan library catalog (search for "Coote Maps").

The Manuscripts Division has detailed a calendar of the Eyre Coote papers. The following calendar contains item-level description and additional background information on the Coote genealogy: Eyre Coote Papers Calendar.


James Cheape letters, 1808-1818

62 items

The James Cheape letters collection contains correspondence from or concerning James Cheape, a naval student at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, and midshipman on board the Caledonia, Warspite, Tigris, Express, and Belette, during the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, and in the Algerian conflict.

The James Cheape letters contain 62 letters from or concerning James Cheape, a naval student at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, and midshipman on board the Caldonia, Warspite, Tigris, Express, and Belette during the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, and in the Algerian conflict. The bulk of the collection consists of 57 letters written by James Cheape with the remaining 5 letters written by fellow sailors, reporting on Cheape’s naval career. The letters are all addressed to his parents at Wellfield, near Kinross, Scotland.

Cheape was at the Royal Naval College in Portsmouth, England, from 1808 until the spring of 1811. From 1811 to 1818, he wrote from various naval vessels, but sent a few letters from London, while on leave. He was on the ship Caldonia, May 19-June 15, 1811; on the Warspite, June 2, 1812-April 1, 1814; on the Tigris, May 14-July 7, 1814; on the Express, June-July 1816; and on the Belette, August 22, 1818.

Cheape's letters include lively accounts of life at the naval academy and as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. He discussed news of other ships and fellow officers and wrote about food, the quality of the ships (how well they sailed and how they were equipped), and the characteristics of the captain, crew, and naval officers. He described Captain Blackwood, for example, as a disciplinarian who seemed to order lashings almost daily. Particularly in the early days, Cheape was in perpetual need of new clothes and money. He enjoyed his time at school, calling it the "best place emaginable," in part because he got to eat muffins, crumpets, and eggs (November 26, 1809). He often seemed less concerned with his studies than with impressing high ranking officials and with "holyday" travel; he spent time in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and with his uncle Charles Cheape in London. Cheape's family had connections to Admiral Philip Patton, who often loaned him money (September 17, 1808). The letters reveal the curriculum of the academy: "I study the 1 book of Euclid and learnd Latin French English Grammar Writing & Drawing...Our Yacht is in the Bason for us to practice to rig her" (September 17, 1808). In the October 15, 1808 letter, he relayed to his mother an exciting episode when the Prince of Wales (George Augustus Frederick, later King George IV) arrived at the dock with his regiment, in preparation for a voyage to Spain, "but I could hardly see him their was such a crowd."

Once out at sea, Cheape wrote interesting details about nautical life and the workings of the British Navy. Cheape's first assignment was on the ship Caldonia, which convoyed with the Druid and the Revenge. Of the Caldonia, he wrote, "she is not only the longest but the finest ship in the world[.] she carries a 138 Guns and about 900 men" (May 19, 1811). Cheape next served as a midshipman on board the HMS Warspite, which started off from Chatham to patrol the waters between England and France. They spent time off Vlissingen, Netherlands; Douarnenez, France; Basque Roads, France; and at Cawsand, Cornwall.

On June 5, 1812, Cheape reported to his father the news of a valuable prize they had captured while patrolling for American ships trading with France:

"We had the good fortune to take the richest American Schooner that has sailed from France this war. We captured her only 14 hours out of Nantz [Nantes]...we took her with Gun Boats. They fired a few rounds of Grapes at us but fortunately nobody was hurt...the Capt. Values this schooner at ₤50,000 she is laden entirely with silks and lotions and so much did her owner depend on her sailing that they made another ship take her quantity of brandy, which Bonaparte obliges them to take as part of their cargo."

He later wrote of heading off to search for the American Frigate the John Adams, and that catching it would mean promotions for many on board (July 7, 1814). In a fascinating letter from November 13, 1813, Cheape described the favoritism and political maneuvering involved in organizing the fleet. He wrote that Lord Melville ordered a line of battleships to the "Western Islands" and wanted the Warspite to be among them. Lord Keith, however, told Captain Blackwood (of the Warspite), "that he could not possibly send him as he had orders to send another ship" and sent his friend Captain West's ship instead. Captain Blackwood then sent a "private letter to Lord Keith -- saying he wished the Warspite to have the preference before any other ship -- when showed the letter to Lord Keith he would not read it -- so I suppose they don't speak now." In another particularly interesting letter, Cheape discussed the role patronage played in granting naval appointments. After attempting unsuccessfully to be transferred to a war ship, Cheape lamented that naval appointments were becoming more competitive and more expensive: "they are paying the Lines of Battle Ships off so fast now that every body is trying to get their sons in frigates" (April 28, 1814).

Cheape mentioned conflicts with America several times, often relaying his own brief impressions of the War of 1812; he asked about his father's views of the war. In a letter from London dated June 18, 1812, he asked, "Do you think that there is any likely hood of an American war [with Britain] I am afraid there is not[.] we would have a chance of making some prize money perhaps." Later he wrote "Do you think it is true the Americans are going to make War with France[?] if so they will have no where to trade to at all...I hope we won't make peace with them before we give them a good drubbing" (February 9, 1814).

Cheape also gives personal accounts of his experiences at sea, including details on the many dangers of sea life. In one instance, a marlinspike "tumbled out of the main tops and fell on my head but fortunately not on the crown of the head or the Doctor said it would have killed me" (June 28, 1816). Cheape typically inquired about the health of his mother, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and commented on news he read in his father's letters.

The 5 letters not written by Cheape are from instructors and superior officers informing Cheape’s father about his son's progress. They are generally optimistic. For instance, George Cheape's friend, J. Somerville, commented that James has a good disposition for a young man (August 7, 1808). Sir John Hay reported that his son was well "after the glorious Victory at Algiers" and that he planned to recommend him for promotion (April 27, 1816).

The collection also contains a few non-correspondence items of note. A letter from London, dated December 24, 1810, contains two recipes of mixtures of salt, sugar, and vinegar, likely for medicinal use. The letter from March 20, 1811, includes an inventory of a midshipman's clothes, instruments, and books.