Cesare Corsellis. Letter to his brother in 1799
During the French Revolutionary Wars which were a result of the French Revolution, Britain joined
other European nations in the war against France.
Britain was involved in many of the Naval battles.
The Navy would hire vessels with crew and master on a contract for the time needed during periods of war.
The Admiralty would provide a Naval officer to be the commander and the ships Master would serve as the sailing Master.
In 1799 Cesare Corsellis was captain of the brig Telegraph which was a hired armed vessel.
On 14 Feb 1801 Telegraph parted from the Mediteranean fleet, during a gale.
She was never heard of again & was declared lost, preumably having foundered during the gale. Cesare was 34 years old.
What follows is a letter from Cesare Corsellis to his brother Rev Joseph Corsellis. Tom, who he mentions in the letter could well be another brother, Maj. Gen Thomas Corsellis.
But this is speculation on my part. In 1801 Thomas was a Captain in the army in India.
Exactly when Joseph received the letter isn’t clear.
The last part of this document is a witness statement that the letter was written by Cesare as he died at sea and doesn’t appear to have left a will. This letter was taken as his last Will and Testament.
Copy of the Letter
Telegraph Mahon Port
Minorca 25 June 1799
Dear Joe My departure from England
was in such a hurry that it was not in my
power to write to any one or have I been able
since till this opportunity as I only stopped at
Gibraltar one hour or two and just sent a
few lines to Tom to mention where I was
ordered to as my order was not to be opened
till after I had left Plymouth I have met
with no success since I have been here as to
Prizes having been kept either with the
ffleet or going with Dispatches and when
the latter is the case of course I look at
nothing that we may make our Expedition
the sooner I would thank you to enquire
after a New Spy Glass that was to come
down for me to the care of Mr Wooldrige
in the pay office at Plymouth I mean
a day and night glass which I did not want
therefore wrote to Blunt Cornhill London as Wilson ordered
it there to have the mistake rectified and would
wish you to return the day and night if not
done already and direct to Captain Sampson
Edward St George (1) with Lord Keith I make no
doubt but that it will come to hand Lord
Keith sent in here two days ago 3 Spanish
ffrigates and 2 armed Brigs which he took
off Cape Corse in Corsica and Earl St Vincent
left this for Lisbon 2 days ago and is suppose
here for Europe afterwards I am now going
from Sir Charles Cotton with Dispatch to
Lord Keith of 24 Sail of the Line belonging
to ffrance was seen going to Carthagene(2) a few
days ago and from good Information
this Island is supposed their Object I have
only just time to conclude with Love
to you and Tom Joint and believe me Dear
Joe Yrs Affetely ( Yours Affectionately) Cesare Corsellis
To the Rev Josp Corsellis
In case any accident by Death happens to me
I beg you will claim my Effects found in the
3 Pr Cent Reservd and what may remain to
my Credit in Wilsons hands my agent as
Also for the Vrouw Harminer which is now
condemned but not her cargo when I left England
also my claim on the Vrouw Martha stept
by the Telegraph Thomas Lockyer Agent
Plymouth which I hope there is little fear
of being condemned Cesaer Corsellis
Witness present Geo Gibbs Telegraph Port
Mahon 25 June 1799
13th October 1801
Francis Wilson of the Navy Office ???eiset
Place Esquire and made Oath that he knew and
was well acquainted with Cesare Corsellis late
a Lieutenant in His Majestys Navy and
Commander of the hired armed Brig Telegraph
deceased and with his manner and character
of handwriting and subscription having
frequently seen him write and write and
subscribe his name and having now carefully
viewed and perused the last Will and Testament
of the said deceased written on the third side
of the paper writing hereunto annexed
beginning thus to the Revd Jos Corsellis
In case any accident by death ending thus
Telegraph Port Mahon 25th June 1799 and
thus subscribed Cesare Corsellis the Deponent
lastly made oath that he verily and in his
conscience believes the whole series and contents
of the said Last Will and Testament ( Save and
except the Name and Words Witness present
Geo Gibbs written at ffoot thereof ) to be the
Proper handwriting of the said Cesare Corsellis
deceased Fras Wilson Same Day the
said ffrancis Wilson was duly sworn to the
truth of this Affidavit before me William
Adam Surr Prost J Cobb Not Pub
This Will was proved at London the Eighteenth
Day of December in the year of our Lord one
Thousand eight hundred and one before the
Worshipful Charles Cook Doctor of Laws and
Surrogate of the Right Honourable Sir William
Wynne Knight Doctor of Laws Master Master
Keeper or commissary of the Prerogative Court of
Canterbury lawfully constituted by the oath of
the Reverend Joseph Corsellis Clerk the Brother
of the deceased and Executor according to the ?
to whom Administration was granted of all and
Singular the Goods Chattles and Credits of the said
Deceased having been first Sworn duly to admin
(1) HMS St George was a 98 gun second rate ship of the line.
St George was present at the battle of Hyeres Islands in 1795
In 1798 some of her crew were court-martialled for mutiny.
In 1801 the ship took part in the Battle of Copenhagen, flying Nelson’s flag.
(2) Carthagena has been the capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department of the Mediterranean since the 18th Cent.