Charles Cornwallis - Revolutionary War-dated Letter Signed - Frees Loyalist Pow
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Charles Cornwallis - Revolutionary War-dated Letter Signed - Frees Loyalist Pow:
CHARLES CORNWALLIS. Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) was the leading British General in the American Revolution from 1780 to 1781, surrendering to George Washington at Yorktown in 1781, and serving as Governor General of India being Marquis in 1792 for his services there.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR-DATED AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY GENERAL CHARLES CORNWALLIS ATTEMPTING TO FREE A LOYALIST WHO WAS TAKEN PRISONER AT THE BATTLE OF YORKTOWN
Autograph letter signed by Charles “Cornwallis” to Henry Strachey, the Joint Secretary of Treasury who aided in the peace negotiations with the American colonies in Paris that resulted in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Seven months after his surrender at Yorktown, General Cornwallis attempts to free a Loyalist named James Tait who was taken prisoner at the Battle of Yorktown: “I take the liberty of enclosing to you the Memorial of Mr. James Tait for the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury. I am sensible that it must require some time for their Lordships seriously to examine the many melancholy cases of the unfortunate refugees; but I believe the situation of Mr. Tait to be so very distressing that it would be an act of the greatest humanity to procure for him an advance of a few guineas to save him from immediate want….” The letter is one page, measures 8.5 by 7.25 inches, created on May 17, 1782 at Albemarle Street in [London], and in very good condition with a few professional repairs to the top and bottom borders, soiling throughout, and minor fading to the handwriting.
“I AM SENSIBLE IT MUST REQUIRE SOME TIME FOR THEIR LORDSHIPS SERIOUSLY TO EXAMINE THE MANY MELANCHOLY CASES OF THE UNFORTUNATE REFUGEES; BUT I BELIEVE THE SITUATION OF MR. TAIT TO BE SO VERY DISTRESSING THAT IT WOULD BE AN ACT OF THE GREATEST HUMANITY TO PROCURE FOR HIM AN ADVANCE OF A FEW GUINEAS TO SAVE HIM FROM IMMEDIATE WANT”
James Tait was born in Scotland and emigrated to Virginia in the early 1770s where he remained a staunch Loyalist. When Cornwallis was marching to Yorktown, Tait joined the British Army at Portsmouth and became an Assistant Deputy Quarter Master. After the defeat at Yorktown, he was taken prisoner and no one heard from him. Cornwallis’ efforts to free him were successful and Tait returned to Scotland in 1784. Only a handful of Revolutionary War correspondence from Cornwallis has sold at sale over the past 25 years making the present letter extremely rare and highly desirable.