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John Thomas Duckworth Papers

Identifier: MS Group 018

Scope and Content

Consists of letters to and from Sir John Duckworth to family and his naval associates and superiors regarding his naval engagements in the Caribbean, the outcomes (casualties, disposition of captured vessels, logistics), his courts-martial and some insights on the colonial administration of British Jamaica. There are 28 sets of manuscript letters, with the dates ranging from March of 1801 to July of 1807. Each of the letters are numbered D-1 to D-28, but the letters are listed in chronological order. Numbers D-5 through D-10 were copied in the same folio leaves.


  • Creation: 1801-1807



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Rear-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth, K.B. (1748-1817) first arrived in the Leeward Islands region of the Caribbean in June of 1800, serving as Commander-in-Chief of the British naval forces deployed there. During March and April of 1801 he orchestrated the defeat of the Swedish and Danish forces stationed on St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew Islands. As reward for this he was knighted into the Order of the Bath on June 6, 1801, after which he returned to England.

With the renewal of conflict with France, Duckworth returned to the Caribbean as Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in Jamaica and the Bahamas. Shortly after his arrival he defeated the French naval squadron under Admiral Rocheambeau off the coast of Santo Domingo. A promotion to Vice-Admiral in April of 1804 followed, after which he returned again to England to face courts-martial charges that where later dropped.

1806 found Duckworth once again back in the Caribbean and facing his old adversary the French. The highlight of his career was his defeat of the French Admiral Leissegues, which dealt a terrible blow to French aspirations in the region and played a major part in their eventual withdrawal from the Caribbean. On his return to England he was granted a pension and his naval feats acknowledged with a wealth of honors, including the Sword of Honor of the City of London.

In 1810 Duckworth was promoted to full Admiral and sent to Canada as Commander-in-Chief of the British naval forces in the Newfoundland and adjacent regions.


0.4 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Letters to and from Sir John Thomas Duckworth to family and his naval associates and superiors regarding his naval engagements in the Caribbean.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in the Duckworth collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the John Thomas Duckworth Papers
Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
September 2010
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America