Henry Fielding

Martin C. Battestin and Clive T. Probyn (eds), The Correspondence of Henry and Sarah Fielding

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49. To the Duke of Richmond1 Bow Street, 8 Apr. 1749

Bow Street Ap 8 1749

My Lord,

In Obedience to the Com͂ands which I had the Hon to receive from yr Grace, I spoke not only to the Keeper of Newgate2 but to one of the High Sheriffs3 in order to have Drury4 brought to the same Tavern where Winter5 was examined. This they both agreed (and that rightly) could not be done as Drury is not only charged on two Indictments, but is likewise in Execution for Debt, so that the Goaler would be guilty of an Escape, if he suffered him to go out of ye Liberties of the Prison. And as for examining him in Newgate, which I would readily do, that would be contrary to Law, Newgate being in the City of London and consequently out of my Jurisdiction. He can therefore be examined there only by a Magistrate of that City. As I shall always esteem it one of the highest Honours to receive the Commands of your Grace, it gives much Uneasiness that it is in this Instance out pg 82of my Power to execute them. I hope, my Lord, nothing hath intervened to prevent me of the Honour which Mr Bodens6 gave me some Expectation that your Grace and the Duke of Mountagu7 intended me, and with the Hopes of which I so agreeably flattered myself.8 Your Grace hath done me many Favours; but I assure you, my Lord, you will do me no more than Justice in believing me to be with the utmost Gratitude and Respect, | My Lord, | Y Grace most obliged | most obedt | humble Servant

Henry Ffielding

Address: To his Grace | The Duke of Richmond

Text: ALS West Sussex Record Office, Chichester (Goodwood MS 110, fol. 159).

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Charles Lennox (1701–50), second Duke of Richmond, to whom HF dedicated both his comedy The Miser (1733) and his poem 'Of Good-Nature' (Miscellanies, 1743), and whom he had complimented more recently in Letter xli of Sarah Fielding's Familiar Letters (1747). Richmond, who lived at Goodwood in West Sussex, was active in attempting to suppress the brutal gangs of smugglers who infested the southern coast. On 10 Mar. at a tavern in Kent, he and HF together heard the testimony of Thomas Winter, smuggler and murderer, whose evidence implicated a dozen members of a gang of robbers, most of whom were also among the smugglers who had earlier raided the Customs House at Poole, Dorset—a crime HF was engaged in solving. (On the general situation, see C. Winslow, 'Sussex Smugglers', in D. Hay et al, eds., Albion's Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England (1975), 119–66. On the present letter and HF's involvement with Richmond in prosecuting these criminals, see Stewart; and Life, 465–7.)
Editor’s Note
2 Richard Akerman the elder, Keeper of Newgate Prison from 1744 to 1754.
Editor’s Note
3 The two sheriffs of London and Middlesex, to whom the Keeper of Newgate was answerable. Appointed for a one-year term, the sheriffs at this time were Edward Ironside and Thomas Rawlinson (see Stewart, 135 n. 3).
Editor’s Note
4 John Drury, a smuggler, whose testimony at the Aug. assizes in Sussex later led to the conviction of George Chapman and James Double for murdering a customs officer.
Editor’s Note
5 See above, n. 1.
Editor’s Note
6 Charles Bodens, whom Horace Walpole characterized as 'a man of some humour, and universal Parasite', was a Captain in the Coldstream Guards and Gentleman Usher Quarter Waiter in ordinary to the King. In 1732 he posed as the author of James Miller's comedy 'The Modish Couple, for which HF wrote the Epilogue. Capt. Bodens had long been an associate of the fun-loving dukes, Richmond and Montagu. (See Life, 125–7; and Stewart, 137 n. 14.)
Editor’s Note
7 John, second Duke of Montagu (who died later this year), was Richmond's inseparable companion.
Editor’s Note
8 The 'Honour' to which HF refers is not known. It may be, however, that these two noble friends had promised soon to pay him a visit in town. As Master of the Ordnance, the Duke of Montagu was responsible for staging the magnificent (but in the event calamitous) display of fireworks designed to celebrate the end of the war with France. Montagu and Richmond—together with another of HF's patrons, the Duke of Bedford—attended the King on the night of the spectacle, 27 Apr. (Life, 466–7).
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