Posted on January 11, 2019
Dated 14 May 1803, four days before Britain declared war, it calls France’s conduct “unfair to the last”. Auctioneer Charles Ashton said the sale had sparked “nationwide interest”.
In the 216-year-old letter, addressed to secretary of state Lord Hawkesbury, the king wrote that he had “perused the dispatch and private letter from Lord Whitworth” – a British politician and diplomat who was then his ambassador in Paris. ”
Conscious of the Evils that must be entailed on many Countries by the renewal of War,” he wrote, “it seems necessary to attend alone to the best modes of repelling the violence with effect, and the attacking those objects which our present means render attainable.” The beginning of the 19th Century was a time of hostility between France and England, marked by a series of wars, culminating in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Mr Ashton called the letter “a defining moment of history, showing the king’s intention to go to war with France and Napoleon”. He said: “Documents signed by George III come up fairly often at auction, however, letters fully written by the king are infinitely more rare. “A basic or simple note may cost around £100 at auction, however, what collectors are looking for is extra meaning to these finds. This one gives us an insight into what was going through his mind at the time.”
The document was sold by an anonymous private seller who had bought it for £55 in 1966.