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Lot 496
TILBURY FORT, ESSEX.

Sold for £ 300 (US$ 364) inc. premium
TILBURY FORT, ESSEX.
LETTER SIGNED TWICE BY [SIR] C[HARLES] HARBORD, THE ROYAL SURVEYOR-GENERAL, to an unnamed peer, almost certainly the Lord Treasurer, Thomas Clifford (1630-1673), Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, reporting his considerations on the proposal to erect a new Royal Fort and fortifications [at Tilbury] and their impact on the surrounding 58 and a half acres of land owned by Sir Richard Hatton and on the ferry house and ferry, in light of the petition of Sir Richard Hatton for compensation amounting to £1,305 15s in all; Sir Bernard de Gomme, the King's Engineer, Sir Jonas Moore, Surveyor-General of the Ordnance and the Earl of Craven are mentioned, 2 pages, folio, signed at the foot of the text on both pages, with arithmetical calculations of the sums involved in the margins, 13 June 1673

Footnotes

  • THE FERRY AND ROYAL FORT AT TILBURY. The planned rebuilding of the fortifications at Tilbury followed the devatasting and humiliating attacks by the Dutch in the Thames Estuary, the most shameful and humiliating episode in British naval history -- 'as dread a spectacle as ever Englishman saw, and a dishonour never to be wiped out', John Evelyn wrote. Between 10 and 14 June 1667 the Dutch fleet of seventy ships under de Ruyter had sailed unopposed into the Medway, stormed Sheerness, burned five or six ships in the Chatham dockyard and captured the Royal Charles. For the rebuilding and strengthening of defences, Sir Bernard de Gomme was employed to draw up designs (Victoria County History, Essex, ii. p. 290) -- those for forts at Gilliangam and Cockham Woods dated 1669 were sold at Sotheby's on 15 December 1980, lot 191. Work on the fort, which is still standing, began in 1670 and was completed in 1683 -- it is the best preserved and largest example of seventeenth-century military engineering (it is of the 'bastion' type) in England.

    On 23 December 1672 Lord Clifford wrote to the Surveyor-General about the petition of Sir Richard Hatton 'for satisfaction for his lands taken into Tilbury Fort' (Calendar of Treasury Reports, 1673-1675, p. 20). Lord Clifford ceased to be Lord Treasuer on 23 June and died on 17 October 1673, perhaps at his own hand. He was a member of the Cabal. Hatton's case was still not settled in December 1675 when Sir Thomas Chicheley's report on his petition was read in the Treasury -- it was decided that interest should be paid until a way could be found for the payment of the principal (Treasury Reports, p. 356).

    Sir Charles Harbord (1596-1679), MP for Launceston in 1661 and 1679, was Surveyor-General 1631-1642 and from 1660 until his death. Sir Bernard de Gomme (1620-1685), a military engineer of Dutch origin, fought on the Royalist side in the Civil War. In 1661 he was made Engineer-in-Chief of all the royal castles in England and Wales. In 1682 de Gomme became Surveyor-General of Ordnance. Sir Jonas Moore (1617-1679), the mathematician and Surveyor-General of the Ordnance before de Gomme, was also Governor of the Mathematical School at Christ's Hospital and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was largely responsible for the founding of the Royal Observatory.

    '...the said fifty eight Acres and a half...fitt for the Reception of his Ma[es]t[ie]s Shipps upon occasion, and for the Erecion of another Fortificacion for the defence of such shipps, and of the Royall Fort...there was a Frerry over the River w[hi]ch landed upon the said Ground, w[hi]ch for the p[re]sent is totally disused...The Peticon[er] doth also clayme to be allowed £124 for the Loss of his old fferry house taken down, and his charge in erecting a new one of six Rooms & a Stable for twenty Horses at a place ass[ig]ned by the Earle of Craven for that purpose...'

    Tilbury had, of course, been the main camp for the defence of England against the Spanish Armada in 1588.
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