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Revolutionary War Royal Navy Admiral Samuel Graves’s November, 17, 1775 “Siege of Boston” Period Document

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SAMUEL GRAVES (1713-1787). Admiral British Royal Navy, Revolutionary War Vice Admiral of the White and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels employed and to be employed in the River Saint Lawrence & c. & c.in July 1774 assumed Command of the North American Station, is sailors manned the boats that ferried British soldiers across the Charles River en route to Lexington and Concord on the night of April 18th, 1775 and his ships provided fire support at Bunker Hill.

November, 17, 1775-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Manuscript Document Signed, “Sam Graves”, measuring 8” x 12.5”, 1 page, (ship) HMS Perston, Boston, Very Fine. Here, Graves Appoints John Phillips as Surgeon for the care of the British Navy's sick and wounded landed at Halifax. This Siege of Boston period Document reads, in full:

“By Samuel Graves, Esq. Vice Admiral of the White and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Ships and Vessels employed and to be employed in the River Saint Lawrence & c. & c. --- Mr. George Greaves having given up the Employment of Surgeon to His Majesty's Hospital at Halifax, and Commodore Arbuthnot having Recommended you as a very fit and proper person to succeed him --

-- I do therefore by Virtue of the power and authority to me given hereby appoint you to be surgeon for the cure of all such sick and hurt as shall be landed from His Majesty's Ships and Vessels at Halifax, according to the custom of the Navy. And You are in consequence of the said Appointment to take upon You the the care of all such Sick and Hurt people accordingly, and to draw upon the Commissioners of the Sick and Hurt for the whole Expense attending the same in the manner and according to the Allowances established by the said Commissioners and lately paid to your predecessors, for which this shall be your Warrent. -- Given under my hand on board His Majesty's Ship Preston at Boston the 17th Novemb. 1775. -- (Signed) Sam'l. Graves. -- To Mr. John Phillips hereby appointed Surgeon for the Care of the Sick and Hurt sent on Shore from His Majesty’s Ships and Vessels at Halifax. By Command of their Admiral.”

Admiral Graves played a major role in the early part of the Revolutionary War, and signed documents of his, particularly from the theater of war, and evidently quite rare. Provenance: From the estate of a longtime autograph collector, purchased from the former Goodspeed's Book Shop in Boston in 1980.
Admiral Samuel Graves (1713-787) was a British Royal Navy admiral who is probably best known for his role early in the American War of Independence.

In October 1770 Graves rose to vice admiral, and in July 1774 assumed command of the North American Station. Graves’s orders were vague, his resources overstretched, and his task, in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography, “perhaps the most ungracious duty that has ever fallen to the lot of a naval officer.” According to his instructions, Graves was charged with supporting customs officials enforcing the various Revenue and Trade Acts governing North American colonial trade within the empire, especially the Boston Port Act.

With only 26 ships and over one-thousand miles of coastline from Nova Scotia to Florida to patrol, Graves’s task was monumental.

Manning problems made the Royal Navy’s problems even more acute, thus forcing it to resort to press gangs in order to supplement the ships’ slender crews. Compounding the problem was the attitude and behavior of navy officers who did not recognize local authority and were more often contemptuous of local officials and sensitivities.

Headquartered in Boston, Graves was at the center of the Revolutionary turmoil in New England. His sailors manned the boats that ferried British soldiers across the Charles River en route to Concord on the night of 18th April 1775.

Two months later, on 17 June 1775, his sailors again helped ferry troops, this time to the Charlestown Peninsula, while several of his ships provided fire support for the pyrrhic victory at Bunker Hill. During the Siege of Boston, Admiral Graves, on 6th October 1775, ordered Lt. Henry Mowatt, commanding the armed vessel HMS Canceaux, to destroy seaports that were supporting the rebellion. Mowatt burned Falmouth (today’s Portland, Maine) on 18th October.

On 27th January 1776, Vice Admiral Richard Howe succeeded Graves as Commander-in-Chief of the North American station. Graves returned to England without a command. In September 1777 he declined command of Plymouth, but indicated a desire to return to active duty. Graves advanced to admiral of the blue on 29th January 1778, admiral of the white on 8th April 1782, and died at his estate at Hembury Fort, Honiton, Devon on 8th March 1787.

A monument sculpted by John Bacon but designed by a "Miss Burgess" was erected in Buckerell in Devon in the same year.
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Estimate Range: $1,000 - $1,500
This item comes with a Certificate per our Terms of Sale from Dana Linett, President of Early American, an expert authenticator with over four decades of expereince, also providing valuations for numerous collectible reference works.
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