Napoleon Series Archive 2009

Villiers, Wellesley(s), D'Alorna & Beresford

Thanks Steve,

Again, I am very grateful for your help (and that of your "twin brother" :-) ).

I don’t want to spend much time on this Mr. Villiers. It would appear from the literature that Mr. Stuart achieved much more than he. However, perhaps the timing of their relative appointments may have been a factor: personal and political patronage may also have had a part to play, in their respective careers, and also how much (and in what manner) their respective achievements were subsequently portrayed. But he is an important person nevertheless and one who I need to know a little more about. My interest in him is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, he is envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Lisbon – in this very formative period. Now, the position in Spain would appear to have been much more the “senior” or preferable position and Britain's focus at the time. Indeed, Mr. Stuart is in northern Spain on a couple of occasions in 1808 I understand – his mission to foster trade with northern Spain and thereby the Americas!

I accept that it has been suggested that Villiers was not such a good diplomat or (at least) a surprising choice for the post in Lisbon – even taking into account the above remarks on his posting and office; this is neither an unsubstantial posting nor an insignificant role I would suggest - see also my note below

I should have gone back a little further in my notes on Fryman– I have now looked back thru’ my notes for this period again and the intimation that Villiers requested to be recalled from Lisbon is indeed provided in Fryman not Muir (full details cited in my previous posting). My notes – John Charles Villiers “had asked to be recalled from Lisbon in August 1809” p 32 Oct 2 V wrote to W to relate (Henry) W’s apt - but to Lisbon, not to Spain! p 33 citing WSD vi p 383

I have now double checked this as it struck me as odd when I read it as I could not recall HW being in Portugal – I could be wrong, my notes and/or the draft is a little ambiguous, but I'm fairly sure the inference in V’s letter is that Henry (Wellesley) was to succeed Villiers (in Lisbon) at that time. This may indeed have been the case although HW eventually, as we know, was posted to Spain – his other brother (handily) being Secretary at the Foreign office - appointed December [6th] 1809. I think the probable explanation is that Bathurst was only temporarily in office and therefore the recommendation that HW succeed JCV was not carried thru’ – and C Stuart was eventually appointed to Lisbon instead (as the post was still vacant).
All of this is covered in Fryman pp 32-35. I need to re-order this Phd thesis - in the New Year so I will check all of this!! But it may also relate to the respective "weight" or importance attached of the two appointments - Spain and Portugal - at that time.

Relating to the appointment of Villiers and his conduct as minister plenipotentiary in Lisbon, notwithstanding the fn in Jackson you refer to above. There perhaps might just have been a hint of jealousy! See Muir, 1996 p 83 (crucial) - although I do not argue from as well informed a position as Muir, (whose work on this period is masterful to say the least), I would perhaps add that one of the reasons for Villier's apt. may not have been a lack of diplomats per se, but (rather) a lack of diplomats who were both personally and politically acceptable perhaps. These were difficult times I think. Of course, the relevant chapter in Muir, 1996 and especially pp 83-86 is both invaluable and essential reading for all of this.

[from Lord Wellesley, Foreign Office, 9 Jan.]
Lord Wellesley has the honor (sic) to submit to your Majesty the draft of a letter to Mr Villiers, containing a particular expression of approbation of his services & conduct in Portugal. Lord Wellesley possessed the means of ascertaining that the conduct of Mr Villiers had obtained the general respect & good will in Portugal.
A draft is also submitted to your Majesty of Credentials for Mr Stuart; these Credentials are conformable to those given to Mr Villiers. (14869)
[The king’s reply, Windsor Castle, 10 Jan.]
The King approves Lord Wellesley's letter and the draft of Credentials for Mr Stewart (sic…(14870)
Aspinall, A (ed). 1970 The Later Correspondence of George III Volume Five 1808-1810 Cambridge University Press - thanks for posting up details for this viewable and extremely useful work

My other interest in Villiers is his relationship with Wellesley and Beresford etc at the time and his special "positioning" in Lisbon ie to help us understand the position of W, the cabinet and also that of the Portuguese government. Surprisingly, when you look at it in detail, there's not been as much written on the appointment of both W and B as you might think. Although Muir, 1991, appears to offer the definitive account.

There may be nothing in this, and I'm hardly the right person to follow it up, but JCV receives some correspondence from W in 1809 relating to certain Portuguese dignitaries detained in France by Napoleon (they were asked by him ostensibly to discuss Franco-Portuguese relations and were - illegally - detained). I need to know more about a certain Madame de Silva (there’s lots of these in Portugal! – although perhaps not many in communication with the British C in C at the time) and a certain (Mr.?) Sodré in connection with some letters from D’Alorna. I am particularly intrigued by Beresford’s particular interest in these letters – perhaps it relates to his (current) position and status in Portugal and ambitions for the future.
See WD vi 1836 W to Villiers Badajoz, 12th September, 1809. pp 142-3

I thought I could get away with it, i.e. try to resist and concentrate on doing some better focussed work on my MA, but I think I'm now going to have to order this fairly recent Phd thesis by April (a work incidentally that Muir recommends) on the Sousa Coutinho family - their perspective(s) on some of the above will be of importance I think.

Muir, R 1996. Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon: 1807-1815 Yale University Press
Muir, R 1991. “Britain and the Peninsular War” in Griffith, P A History of the Peninsular War, Vol IX: Modern Studies of the War in Spain and Portugal, 1808-1814

Best wishes


Messages In This Thread

Villiers, Stuart, Wellington and Liverpool (1811)
Re: Villiers, Stuart, Wellington and Liverpool (18
Re: Villiers, Stuart, Wellington and Liverpool (18
Stuart replaces Villiers (February 1810)
Re: Stuart replaces Villiers (February 1810)
Re: Stuart replaces Villiers (February 1810)
Villiers, Wellesley(s), D'Alorna & Beresford
Re: Villiers, Wellesley(s), D'Alorna & Beresford
Wellington and Villiers (in 1811)
Re: Villiers, Wellesley(s), D'Alorna & Beresford
Colonel Bayley, Lisbon April 1809
Re: Colonel Bayley, Lisbon April 1809
Many thanks for generous help
George Canning and his Friends. 2 Vols.