Papers relating to the Peninsular War, Portugal

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1227
  • Dates of Creation
      17 January 1808-4 August 1809
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      various sizes. 77 items;

Scope and Content

Correspondence and papers relating to the British Forces in the Iberian Peninsula, consisting, with few exceptions, of letters (numbers 5-76), many marked Private or Secret, written between 15 January and 25 April 1809 by Lieut. General Sir John Cradock (Commander of the troops in Portugal), mostly from Lisbon, to Vice-Admiral George Berkeley (commanding the Portuguese coast and River Tagus), copies of whose replies are endorsed on some items. Among the enclosures are reports on the defences of the town and harbour of Setubal and letters from Cradock to John Charles Villiers, envoy to Portugal, reporting on the situation. Including:

  • Number 1: a letter from Berkeley to Cradock respecting the retention of the Bugio Fort, 17 January 1808;
  • Number 3: an account of the Distribution of the Forces in Portugal under Cradock's command, dated at H.Q., Lisbon, 6 January 1809, sent by Cradock to Berkeley;
  • Number 4: a draft of a reply from Berkeley to Cradock, 10 January;
  • Number 77: a letter of congratulation from Lord Mulgrave to Berkeley, 14 August 1809.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Francis Caradoc [formerly Cradock], first Baron Howden (1762-1839), army officer, was born on 11 August 1762 in Dublin, where his father was bishop of Kilmore. Cradock was admitted to Trinity College, Dublin, on 31 October 1774. His father's political influence was considerable, and he rose quickly in the army, having entered it in 1777 as a cornet in the 4th Regiment of Horse. In 1779 he transferred as ensign to the 2nd (Coldstream) Guards. In 1789 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and in the following year commanded the 13th Regiment when it was ordered to the West Indies at the time of the Nootka Sound affair.

In 1793 Cradock accompanied Sir Charles Grey to the West Indies as aide-de-camp and was given command of two picked battalions selected for dangerous services. At their head he served throughout the campaign in which Grey seized the islands of the French West Indies, and he was wounded at the capture of Martinique. At its conclusion he received the thanks of Parliament and was promoted colonel of the 127th Regiment. On 1 October 1795 he was appointed assistant quartermaster-general, and on 1 January 1798 he was promoted to major-general. He was appointed to the staff of Sir Ralph Abercromby in the Mediterranean. At the conclusion of the Egyptian campaign he was appointed commander-in-chief of a corps of 7,000 men and ordered to capture Corsica. The peace of Amiens put an end to the expedition, but he was made a KB (16 February 1803) and colonel of the 71st Highland Light Infantry and on 21 December 1803 he was appointed commander-in-chief at Madras as a local lieutenant-general.

In December 1808 Cradock arrived in Lisbon to take command of the troops which Sir John Moore had left in Portugal. In 1809 he was appointed colonel of the 43rd Regiment, and in 1811 he was promoted to the governorship of the Cape of Good Hope, which, however, he retained only until 1814. In 1814 he was promoted general and on 2 January 1815 was made a GCB. He was created Baron Howden in the peerage of Ireland on 19 October 1819. In 1820, claiming descent from Caradoc (prince of north Wales), he exchanged the name Cradock for Caradoc. On 10 September 1831 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Howden of Howden and Grimston, on the coronation of William IV. He died at Park Lane, London, on 26 July 1839.

Source: H.M. Stephens, 'Caradoc , John Francis, first Baron Howden (1762-1839)', rev. Stewart M. Fraser, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Sir George Cranfield Berkeley (1753-1818), naval officer and politician, was born on 10 August 1753. He attended Eton College from 1761 to 1766 before joining the royal yacht Mary, then appointed to carry Princess Caroline Matilda to Denmark, where she was to be made queen. Berkeley served as her page. He was promoted to lieutenant in September 1772. In 1778 his cousin Rear-Admiral Augustus Keppel gave Berkeley a lieutenancy on the 100-gun Victory. In September of that year Berkeley received his first command, of the Pluto (8 guns).

In April 1783 Berkeley was elected to parliament for Gloucestershire. Berkeley represented the county for twenty-seven years and became an important naval MP. He married on 23 August 1784 Emilia Charlotte (1762-1832), daughter of General Lord George Lennox. In 1789, having commanded the Magnificent (74 guns) for three years, Berkeley was appointed surveyor-general of the ordnance, an office he held until 1795.

On the declaration of war with France in 1793, Berkeley was appointed to the Marlborough (74 guns), and he later had an important share in the victory of 1 June 1794. From 1795 to 1797 he commanded the Formidable (98 guns) and served off Brest, Cadiz, Ireland and the Texel. In 1798 Berkeley commanded the Sussex sea fencibles and on 14 February 1799 he was promoted rear-admiral. He undertook a thorough survey of Britain's coastal defences in 1804-5, at the height of fears of a French invasion. He became a vice-admiral on 9 November 1805. In December 1808 he was appointed commander-in-chief on the coast of Portugal. On 31 July 1810 he was promoted to full admiral, and was appointed lord high admiral of Portugal by its prince regent. In 1812 Berkeley sailed for Britain on his flagship, the Barfleur (98 guns), and he retired from active service and public life. Berkeley was made KB in 1813 and GCB in 1815. He died at his home in London on 25 February 1818.

Source: Brian Mark De Toy, 'Berkeley, Sir George Cranfield (1753-1818)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the London bookseller J. Burke for £20 in August 1959 (List 66, number 274).


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles on John Caradoc (Cradock) and Sir George Berkeley.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1952-1970 (English MS 1227).

Related Material

The JRUL holds further material relating to the Portuguese campaign of 1808-9 within the Clinton Papers, described in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 41 (1958-9), pp. 5-6. See also the correspondence of Sir William Henry Pringle (ref.: GB 133 Eng MS 1273), and the correspondence and papers of Sir James Leith (ref.: GB 133 Eng MS 1307).

Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, holds correspondence and papers of John Francis Caradoc (ref.: GB 0161 MSS Eng b 2028-32, c 2737-60, d 2294-95 ).

The British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds the following John Francis Caradoc material: 

  • correspondence with Sir James Willoughby Gordon, 1806-33 (ref.: GB 0058 ADD MSS 49487-88);
  • correspondence with Lord Holland (ref.: GB 0058 Add MS 51614);
  • correspondence with Lord Wellesley, 1805-33 (ref.: GB 0058 Add MSS 37283-310 passim);
  • letters to Sir Robert Wilson, 1823-39 (ref.: GB 0058 Add MSS 30111-12).

Geographical Names