15. Keith to St. Vincent
June 22, 1803.
My Lord, I should not be surprised if the information contained your Lordship’s letter came from that quarter. I am so perfectly
acquainted with that restless spirit and ungovernable vanity which renders it irksome to him to feel any superior; wherever he goes orders are issued to all the vessels he meets without mentioning Admiralty or me, with a [illegible] of title, truly ridiculous. But I am happy at all hours to vindicate any attack on the Admiralty, even where I am not concerned, and enclose an extract from my last week’s returns of the disposition of the ships and vessels. I likewise send an order I sent by the Fox cutter for the gunbrigs to join Admiral Thornborough, and on the back thereof your Lordship will see five of them were actually there, or off Orfordness.
That there is a great extent of coast to defend is true, and I feel, like your Lordship, the weight upon my shoulders because the means are small but are increasing. In the meantime I am more anxious to protect our trade than to defend the coast, because I know the enemy have no assemblage of craft or troops at any one point, therefore our ships are less stationary at present than it may be prudent at a future period. Admiral Thornborough is gone to the Gunfleet and I suppose is only detained by the violence of the wind. I have &c.
Extract from Admiral Lord Keith’s disposition of ships dated June 18, 1803
Vesuvius—bomb vessel—Colne River.
Beschermer—block ship—Goldermere’s Gate [Goldmer Gat].
Hecla —bomb vessel—protecting trade from Orfordness to St. Nicholas Gate.
Zebra—bomb vessel—sailed to protect trade atYarmouth, Cromer, etc.
Monkey—gunbrig----cruisingbetween Orfordness and Yarmouth, raising men and protecting trade.
Charger—gunbrig—-cruising off Long Sand.
Adder—gunbrig—stationed off the Wallet.
Escort—cruisingoccasionally off Orfordness.
Mallard—gunbrig—-stationed off Yarmouth.
Marmion—gunbrig—justreturned from Yarmouth to Sheerness.
Antelope—50guns—withdrawn from Hoseley Bay by their Lordships’ command.
Helder—blockship—originally intended for the Hoseley Bay station, sent to Hull by their Lordships’ orders.
Vessels of war have been constantly passing and repassing along the coast, and Captain Maxwell of the Hound, who was expressly sent to Yarmouth to give convoy, has reported that notwithstanding he gave repeated warning, no vessel offered to take the benefit of his protection.
Order to Fox—It is my direction that the gunbrigs in the Wallet, Hoseley Bay, Harwich and off Orfordness proceed immediately to the Leydenin the King’s Channel for orders.
LLoyd, C . (eds.) (1955) The Keith Papers, vol III, 1803-1815. Navy Records Society, pp. 23 -24
Web Page: Rickard, J (24 July 2006), Keith to Secretary of Admiralty, http://www.historyofwar.org/sources/acw/napoleonic/nrs1955/1_1_16..html