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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Lord Nelson's bank statement sold
Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson died at the height of the victorious Battle of Trafalgar
An anonymous buyer has snapped up a collection of Admiral Lord Nelson's financial documents including a 200-year-old bank statement for 2,800.

The statement reveals Lord Nelson paid his estranged wife, Lady Nelson, 400 a year to avoid worsening the scandal over his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton.

The previously unseen papers were bought by a telephone bidder at Charterhouse Auctioneers in Dorset.

The past owner's father saved them from being burnt about 50 years ago.

Nelson in his day was quite as much a national celebrity as Paul McCartney, he was a superstar
Chris Copson, Charterhouse Auctioneers

Chris Copson, a valuer at Charterhouse in Sherborne, said: "The scandal over Nelson's behaviour could be compared to the present day interest in Sir Paul McCartney's divorce from Heather Mills-McCartney.

"The comparison isn't ridiculous.

"Nelson in his day was quite as much a national celebrity as Paul McCartney - he was a superstar.

"People always have a slightly prurient streak."

The bank statement suggests Nelson may have wanted to ensure his wife did not speak publicly about how he had treated her to avoid further damaging his reputation, Mr Copson said.

"The scandal would have been that much greater if she had been put out destitute on the street," he added.

Lady Frances Nelson was buried in the parish churchyard of Littleham, near Exmouth, Devon, 26 years after Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

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