Admiral Lord Nelson love letter to Emma Hamilton sells for £20k

Nelson's letter Lord Nelson vows to defend Lady Hamilton's integrity during the scandal

A letter from Admiral Lord Nelson to his lover Lady Emma Hamilton has been sold at auction for £20,000.

In the letter, believed to have been written between late November 1801 and early January 1802, Nelson promises to defend Lady Hamilton's integrity.

The letter was sold at Bonhams Auctioneers in London for more than double its estimated price, of between £6,000 and £8,000.

The letter was originally sold in 1959 for £130.

Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk in 1758.

At the time the letter has been roughly dated, Emma Hamilton had given birth to their child Horatia and their affair was public.

'Sincere and affectionate'

Who was Admiral Lord Nelson?

Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson
  • Born in Norfolk on 29 September 1758, Horatio Nelson was a naval captain by 21, known throughout Europe by 39 and dead at 47
  • Won three of the most decisive naval victories in British history at the Nile (1798), Copenhagen (1801) and Trafalgar (1805)
  • Nelson was seriously wounded four times and famously killed by a French sniper aboard HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Among his dying words were to ask his devoted Flag Captain Thomas Hardy to kiss him - a fact that Victorian historians tried to suppress
  • Nelson was blind in his right eye but, contrary to popular myth, did not wear an eye patch. He also lost his right arm as a result of battle

Source: BBC History

Nelson begins the letter: "My Dear Lady", and goes on to say: "I shall not come to your house after what happened last night, 'till you send for me, when I shall fly.

"I never will retract one syllable I uttered, or one thought I felt.

"Never will I sit tamely and see you My Dear friend neglected or insulted."

He then signs it "your most sincere and affectionate, Nelson."

Despite his wife Fanny's demands, he refused to give up Emma as his mistress and inflamed the scandal further by choosing to live with Emma and their daughter when he returned from sea.

During the scandal, Nelson wanted Emma to destroy the letters sent between them.

Emma, however, chose to keep the letters, which were eventually published in 1814, nine years after Nelson's death.

A spokesperson for Bonham's said: "This was probably, in emotional terms, the most turbulent period of Nelson's life.

"He spent his time in London with the Hamiltons being feted as a hero of the [Battle of] the Nile, and, in equal measure, being ridiculed as infatuated dupe of Emma."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More England stories



  • Man with typewriterLove to Patrick

    The official whose over-familiar letters infuriated his boss

  • Man's hands putting ring on woman's fingerName changer

    Why do wives take a man's name after marriage?

  • Person scratching their arm10 things

    Scratching really does make things itch, and other nuggets

  • Corsican flagCorsican mafia

    Are Corsica's days of mafia and militants over?

  • Mobil canopies on the A6 at Red Hill, LeicestershireEnglish heritage

    Zebra crossings to bus stations: unusual listed buildings

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.