His handwritten letter as a manager at the trial of Warren Hastings,
requesting seating for another aide
Autograph Letter signed: "J. Burgoyne", 1 page, 7¼x9, with
¼-inch border affixed. Hertford Street [London], June 7 .
In full: "Sir, I take the liberty of enclosing a note I just now
receive from the Duchess of Portland, as the only apology I can make for an
irregular request on my part. The number of persons in the managers box
yesterday shewed that the regulation of confining the admission of Clerks to one
per manager was enlarged, or that persons had obtained placed without your
tickets. I would not transgress; but if upon so many examples you would grant me
a ticket for Doctor Goodenough as my second clerk, I am sure you would
much oblige the Duchess of Portland as well as myself. I have the honor to be
with very high regard Sir your most obedient and humble servant." Horizontal
and vertical fold creases. ½" tear at left section. Faded and lightly toned.
Accompanied by engraving of Burgoyne with facsimile signature (5¼x7½).
Lower edge chipped. British general, politician and playwright John Burgoyne
(1722-1792), nicknamed "Gentleman Johnny," served ably with
the elite Coldstream Guards during the Seven Years War (1756-1763), fighting in
Europe but not in the North American theater of war. During the American
Revolution, he commanded the British Army invading New York from Canada,
intending to link up with a force moving north from New York City to control the
Hudson River and sever New England from the other colonies. Following defeat
at the Battle of Saratoga, Burgoyne surrendered his army of 5,800 men to
American General Gates on October 17, 1777. Encouraged by this American victory,
France extended military aid to the colonists, and then joined the war.
Burgoyne was harshly criticized at home, charged with overconfidence and
ineptitude, although later histories have reallocated much blame to Generals
Howe and Clinton, who failed to move swiftly up the Hudson to join him.
Burgoyne was recalled to London, and never given another military
command. A Member of Parliament since 1768, he subsequently devoted
himself to play writing and to politics. Long a critic of the British East India
Company, Burgoyne was one of the parliamentary managers in the corruption
trial of Warren Hastings, previously the military commander and governor
general of British India. Hastings was found not guilty after a 7-year trial,
but Burgoyne did not live to know the outcome. He died suddenly and unexpectedly
on June 3, 1792. The Duchess of Portland mentioned in this letter was the
wife of William Cavendish-Bentinck, the Third Duke of Portland, a past and
future Prime Minister. In the well-known alternate history novel For Want of
a Nail, by Robert Sobel, Burgoyne wins at Saratoga, and goes on to become
the Duke of Albany, Viceroy of the Confederation of North America. Two
For more documents by these signers click the names below:
GENERAL JOHN BURGOYNE
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