Sale 19BP01 | Lot 20

KING GEORGE III Document signed ordering the disbandment of an Infantry Corps.

Catalogue: Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Lot Details

Lot 20
KING GEORGE III Document signed ordering the disbandment of an Infantry Corps.
Court of St. James: 28 March 1783. Two page manuscript order of disbandment on recto and verso of one long sheet, the recto signed at upper left "George R", the verso signed by British Secretary at War, George Yonge. 14 x 9 1/2 inches (36 x 24 cm); framed with a portrait and plaque. Professionally restored by J. Baldwin Conservation with their report to the frame verso, there is mainly a tissue repair along one horizontal fold which is toned and affects a few words, minor paper replacement to the extremities of this fold.
"Whereas we have thought fit to order Our Corps of Infantry under your Command to be forthwith disbanded...
Care is to be taken that the arms delivered out of our stores of Ordnance and indented for be returned thither again...
Care is to be taken that each Non-Commissioned Officer and Private Man hereby to be disbanded be permitted to carry away with him his Clothes, Belt and Knapsack which he now wears. And we being pleased to allow each Sergeant, Corporal Drummer, and Private Man, who shall be hereby disbanded, fourteen days subsistence, as of our Royal Bounty, to carry them home..."

An interesting order of disbandment emanating from the period in which Sir Charles Grey was to become Commander in Chief of British Forces in America and his appointment, along with his colonelcy and build up of Dragoon regiments, was aborted in favor of the reduction of troops. In the months preceding Grey's late 1782 appointment, plans were put in place for the buildup of Dragoon regiments in North America and we locate one war-date reference to Henry Waller, the recipient of this order, in the February 1783 records of the War Office reporting on "Troops in North America" that "Henry Waller, of the 1st Dragoon Guards, to be a Major-Commandant of a corp of foot, Richard Symes vice." It appears that by the date of this document, 28 March 1783, the buildup of these regiments had been cancelled and the British moved towards reducing troop counts in America and it seems neither Charles Grey in his role as Commander in Chief or Henry Waller would set out for America. In the same war records listing Waller's promotion we also locate the full text this order as published in New York in August 1783.

We locate no signed copy of this disbandment order or any similar document signed by King George III in the auction record. Such documents with overt content relating the breakdown of the British military machine at War's end are scarce.

For Grey's aborted post, see:
Sir Charles Grey, First Earl Grey: Royal Soldier, Family Patriarch, p. 122.
For Waller's promotion to Commandant and the text of this order, see:
The Scots Magazine, Volume 45. December 1783, p. 111 (Waller) and p. 661 (Disbandment order).


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Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Wed, Apr 17, 2019 at 10am EDT
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