Digital copies of two journals of Captain William Bentinck [1764-1813]; 1790-1791

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The first of the two volumes continues on from an earlier journal which is not now present. At the start of the first journal, Captain Bentinck and his friend James Hawkins-Whitshed were returning to England after a period of 18 months during which they had visited Holland, northern Germany and St Petersburg, and met Bentinck's Dutch relatives and his grandmother Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck.

The journals describe Bentinck's travels and daily life in 1790-1791. He was a naval officer but did not take part in any active engagements and did not have day-to-day command of any vessel. The journals show that he divided his time between London, his estate at Terrington St Clement in Norfolk (where he was particularly engaged in inspecting fen drainage and reclamation schemes), and travel in modern-day France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

The journals are described in detail in item-level records:

MS 993/1. Journal, 14 January 1790-2 May 1791

MS 993/2. Journal, 3 May 1791-24 October 1791

Administrative / Biographical History

William Bentinck was the eldest son of Captain John Albert Bentinck, of Terrington St Clement, Norfolk, and his wife Renira van Tuyll van Serooskerken. He was the grandson of the Dutch landowner William Bentinck, Count Bentinck, and a great-grandson of Hans Willem Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland, through his second marriage to Martha Jane Temple. In 1775, on the death of his father, William Bentinck inherited Terrington St Clement.

He followed his father into the British Royal Navy. He served at the latter end of the American War of Independence, commanding the 'Assistance' in 1783, at the age of 19. His logbook records subsequent journeys in North America in 1784. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1787. Bentinck commanded the 'Adamant' in 1793-1794 during the War of the First Coalition, and the 'Phaeton' during the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794. From July 1794 to March 1795 he commanded the 'Tremendous'. Between 1798 and 1802 Bentinck served as Governor of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Bentinck's grandmother was Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck (1715-1800). In 1733 she had married William Bentinck (1704-1774), Lord of Rhoon and Pendrecht and Count Bentinck. The marriage was not successful, and in 1739 Charlotte Sophie left her husband. Relations between Charlotte Sophie and her former husband became increasingly embittered and she was not permitted to see either of her two legitimate sons, despite several attempts. Both died before she could meet them again. In 1789, however, the Countess met her grandson William Bentinck for the first time. William met her at her home in Emsbuttel, Hamburg, while he was on a trip with his friend and naval colleague James Hawkins-Whitshed. Whitshed later married William's sister Sophia H. Bentinck (Sophy), with whom the Countess had an intimate correspondence until her death in 1800. The correspondence reveals Charlotte Sophie's increasing attachment to the members of her 'new' family. In her letters, William Bentinck is often referred to as 'notre meilleur Grand Guillaume' or 'le grand garçon'. In her will, Charlotte Sophie left William her castle and small estate at Doorwerth near Arnhem in the province of Gelderland, The Netherlands.

In 1802 William Bentinck married Lady Frances Eliza Augusta Pierrepont, daughter of Charles Pierrepont, 1st Earl Manvers. By 1805 Bentinck was living on his estate in Norfolk, and commanding the Sea Fencibles, a coastal defence force against the French. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Blue in 1805, Rear-Admiral of the White in 1808, and Vice-Admiral of the Blue in 1810. He died of typhus in St Petersburg on 21 February 1813.

Arrangement

No archival arrangement has been necessary.

Conditions Governing Access

Accessible to all readers. Digital copies are accessible via a computer terminal in the Reading Room.

Other Finding Aids

This description is the only finding aid available for the collection. Copyright in the description belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing on our Permission to Publish form (see the Reprographics Services part of our website or email mss-library@nottingham.ac.uk)

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The volumes were placed on temporary loan in October 2012 and digitised by Manuscripts and Special Collections staff.

Related Material

Papers relating to Doorwerth, and a few more personal papers including William Bentinck's death certificate and will, within the Papers of the Bentinck family, Counts of the Holy Roman Empire (BK)

Letters in French from Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck, to Bentinck's sister Sophia Hawkins Whitshed, née Bentinck, 1790-1799 (Pw F 10081-10343)

Ship's logbooks, 1783-1784 and 1800, are held in the Manuscripts Division of the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

Bibliography

A few extracts from the journals (including from the first, now missing, volume dated 1789-1790) were published in 'Charlotte Sophie, Countess Bentinck : her life and times 1715-1800', by her descendant Mrs Aubrey Le Blond (2 vols, London: Hutchinson, 1912) [copy available at King's Meadow Campus, East Midlands Collection Not 468.V37 BEN]