This celebrated English naval officer joined as a volunteer in 1672 and retired as Admiral of the Fleet in 1705, distinguishing himself with many commands in wars ranging from the Third Anglo-Dutch War in the 1670s to the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century; he is often remembered for destroying the Spanish treasure fleet in the Battle of Vigo Bay in 1702 and for commanding the naval forces that captured Gibraltar in 1704. Item #35492
ALS, 2pp (lettersheet), 5 3/4" X 7", Canterbury, England, n.y. September 29. Addressed to "D[ea]r Madm." Near fine. Faintly age toned. Flowery words of condolence presumably to a daughter of a deceased friend, reading: "As I can never forget the obligations I hv to the Dutchess of Roxborough nor think off her without the uttmost concern so give me Leave to condole with you in the sincerest manner for the Loss off her, that was not only Valluable to her owne family butt to every one that knew her, and though her Death was what we had all reason to feare yett I must confess I had flattered my self with the thought off seeing her again she seamed so chearfull when I saw her Last, butt her Lite had always been such that I believe the thought off her Death was more Terrible to her friends then to her self. I will not trouble yr. Lady[shi]p with any more news then to beg you would not so far give way to this affliction but think if she were capable of conveying her thoughts to you she would desire you to be easy and hapy and as yr. Lady[shi]p is very young so may the remaindr. of yr. Life be as hapy as I wish it...." In a postscript he also mentions his life ("Lady Mary") and "my mother," but since his first and second wives were both named Mary this only dates this undated letter to the 1684 to 1702 period, likely the latter period. Docket on verso indicates this letter was later returned to the third Mrs. Rooke, Catherine Knatchbull, who the admiral married in 1706: "Lady Rooke / Receiv'd Oct.r ye 2d / 1718." This scarce letter is accompanied by a superb 5¼" X 7¼" stipple-point engraving of Rooke, a head-and-shoulders portrait of him later in life wearing armor, published by Edward Harding in London in 1799. Also present is a handwritten page of biographical notes about Rooke and two other 17th century English notables penned by an unknown 19th century collector.