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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 03:56 GMT
Admiral Nelson letters uncovered
One of three letters tracing Admiral Nelson's naval career
One letter dates from the early part of Nelson's career
A set of letters tracing the career of Admiral Nelson has been discovered during a house clearance in Edinburgh.

They date from the 1770s, when Nelson was a teenager, through to the 1800s, and are expected to be put up for sale.

One is an invitation to serve on HMS Seahorse, dated 1773, and one is appointing Lord Nelson as Vice Admiral of the Blue Squadron in 1805.

The third is a hand-written letter from Nelson thanking God for the recovery of an injured friend.

The letters were found by local antiques dealer John Dixon.

Mr Dixon, of Georgian Antiques, said: "I was clearing the contents of a house in the west end of Edinburgh when I came across the letters.

One of the most important finds is the official Seal of Office from King George III and The Admiralty
John Dixon
Antiques dealer
"I knew they would be of great interest and was asked by the owner of the house to act as his agent in safely selling the letters.

"He and I would both prefer that the letters be bought by a British institution."

No value has been placed on the documents but similar archives have fetched more than 25,000, according to experts.

Mr Dixon added: "One of the most important finds is the official Seal of Office from King George III and The Admiralty appointing Lord Nelson as Vice Admiral of the Blue Squadron on 1 January 1805, 10 months before his finest hour at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson was killed by a French sniper's bullet
"The seal comes with the embossed coat of arms and signatures of The Admiralty and is in mint condition.

"He was in charge of The Blue Squadron when he died on 21 October 1805."

It is not known how the letters came to be in the hands of the current owners, but they were originally owned by Sir William Augustus Fraser (1826-1898), the English politician, author and collector.

Nelson joined the Navy at the age of 12, became a captain when he was 20, and saw service in the West Indies, the Baltic and Canada.

Over the period 1794 to 1805, under Nelson's leadership, the British Navy proved its supremacy over the French.

His most famous engagement, at Cape Trafalgar, saved Britain from the threat of invasion by Napoleon, but he died on the first day of battle in 1805.


SEE ALSO:
Trafalgar celebrations announced
09 Aug 04 |  England
Nelson scroll found 50 years on
06 May 04 |  South West Wales


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