Napoleon Series Archive 2009

Fragments of a life.
In Response To: George Sparrow ()


However, Prussian troops were marching with Napoleon into the city, and it became a matter of urgency to return to England. The British Minister, Mr. Thompson, taking pity on Mrs. Sampson and the children gave William Sampson a pass to Harwich and a letter to Mr. [F]ox, the British Foreign Secretary, explaining the circumstances. A Man of War was sent to pick up the British for evacuation, and in company with Mr. Sparrow, a King's Messenger, in great haste with despatches from Vienna, they again in bad weather, set sail. It was April and several days of stormy sailing brought them to Harwich. Mr. Sparrow went to London ahead of the Sampson family, promising to report to the foreign Office that Mr. Sampson was on his way with Mr. Thompson's passport, and intended to present himself on arrival to Mr. Fox.

This he did, only to be told that Mr. Fox was not there. Mr. Sampson returned the following day and was shown into Lord Spencer's Office, to be informed that he ought not to be in the country. He was placed under house arrest at the home of Mr. Sparrow, who had been so [h]elpful.

Although he was allowed several days with his family, he was not allowed to wait until his wife's brother, who was also his agent, could reach them to escort his sister and her children back to Belfast. Mrs. Sampson stayed as a guest in Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow's home, until she was able to travel back to Ireland.

Once more they had to say goodbye. William Sampson wrote:- "I saw in the eyes of this best woman that she had little hopes of seeing me again."

On July 4th, 1806, William Sampson landed in [N]ew York. In 1807 he published his Memoirs, beginning with his exile, and published in the form of letters to Lord Spencer.


“... Captain Murray, courier for the Duke of York, and Mr. Sparrow, the King's messenger, almost came to blows over the matter of priority in claims for the only available horses. ....”


The journalism quarterly, v. 29 (1952), p. 9:

“Wednesday, April 9. Our party at dinner was increased to-day by the arrival of Mr. Sparrow, a king's messenger, with despatches from Vienna, and Mr. Sampson, his wife and two children. Mr. Sampson is an Irish barrister, the friend of O'Connor, and he took an active part in the rebellion in Ireland ; he has been living in France four or five years past, I believe as an exile or outlaw ; lately he has been staying at Hamburg, and has now obtained permission to return home. His appearance bears marks of care and anxiety; he is about thirty-six years of age, shrewd, quick, and intelligent. Mr. Sparrow is an elderly man, well behaved, but pompous in his manners; his style of talking was very entertaining. He had come from St. Petersburg to Vienna, and had slept on the couch at a post-house near Brunn, where Bonaparte had spent several nights; the French officers and attendants laid upon straw in an adjoining room, two mattresses only being in his own.”

Memoirs of William Sampson: including particulars of his adventures in ... (1807), p. 241 by William Sampson

“Discussing the murder of Mr. Sparrow by boatmen at ....”

American book prices current, v. 81 (1976), p 1133:

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George Sparrow
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Fragments of a life.
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Good show! :D And Google says ....