Did Admiral Villeneuve attend Nelson’s funeral?

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    Margaret P

      A substantial number of British authors state that Admiral Villeneuve and Captain Magendie were at Nelson’s funeral, but so far I’ve come across only one who gives any sort of supporting evidence.
      Edward Fraser in The Enemy at Trafalgar, an enemy at Trafalgar, London 1906, quotes the Hampshire Telegraph as reporting that Villeneuve and Magendie ‘were witnesses… having received permission to be present.’ Against this, Admiral Rémi Monaque, in his book Trafalgar, Tallandier, Paris c.2005, quotes from a letter that Magendie wrote to Villeneuve dated 9 January [1806] – the day of the funeral. Magendie says that he hadn’t been able to meet Captain Blackwood on account of the funeral. It’s hard to make this square with Villeneuve’s having been present himself!
      I’ve searched the British Library database of newspapers and found no mention of Villeneuve’s presence at the funeral in the Hampshire Telegraph, or indeed in any other publication that I’ve managed to track down. All I can find is a brief mention in The Morning Post of 11 January 1806 of Magendie being ‘allowed to come to town to see the funeral procession…’; Magendie in fact seems to have been in London at that time in connection with his impending release.
      I’m inclined to conclude that Villeneuve was not at the funeral, and that British authors who have claimed as much are wrong. However, if any SNR member can shed light on this issue, I’d be grateful.
      My interest is that of a fiction writer trying to get her facts right. I’m planning a novel set during the post-Trafalgar period.


        I am currently researching the life and career of Capitaine-de-vaisseau Jean-Jacques Etienne Lucas, the commander of the Redoutable, 74, at Trafalgar. Lucas was a paroled prisoner-of-war at Reading from November 1805 until April 1806, when he, Villeneuve, Magendie and Infernet, commander of l’Intrepide at Trafalgar, were released on parole and sent to France (from Plymouth, 17 April 1806) before their official exchange was arranged.
        It is stated in some naval histories that Lucas also attended Nelson’s funeral but I can find no record of this in the lists of attendees, although that in itself does not mean he – or Villeneuve or Magendie – were not there.
        I have recently accessed the French paroled officers’ records at The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, in the context of checking Lucas’ physical description, which was unusual, and which I have now found to be incorrect in the few British histories which mention him.
        The relevant files for this period (under the Transport Board) are :
        TNA ADM 103/496, Passports for French prisoners-of-war released or exchanged, listed in the catalogue as 1800-1815
        TNA ADM 103/598 General Entry-book of French Prisoners of War, on parole at Reading, 1805-1813

        Unfortunately, the first set above runs from 1810, and the correct volume is not clear from the TNA online catalogue, so I need to return to Kew to identify and access the volume for passports 1803-1806; these should list all passports issued for approved travel further than 1 mile from the edge of the town in which an officer was based. Villeneuve, Magendie, Lucas and Infernet and their suite of officers and servants were all housed in Henry Addington’s family home, Grove House, in Sonning-on-Thames.
        It may be of use to know that the second set, ADM 103/598, includes details such as age, stature, distinguishing marks and wounds, colour of eyes and hair.
        I hope this is of interest but perhaps other Members may have greater knowledge for Dr Pelling’s research.

        [Editor’s note : there appears to be a fault in TNA’s online catalogue descriptions for ADM 103/496, Passports for French prisoners-of-war released or exchanged, listed in the catalogue as 1800-1815. On calling up the manuscript registers for this set from ADM 103 / 496 through to / 501 there appear to be no entries from the period 1801 -1810. Lower numbered sets relate to prisoners from other countries or British prisoners in France.
        ADM 103 / 485 is shown as being ‘French prisoners in England 1804-1810’ but there is some doubt as to what this deals with and needs physical examination. TNA are now aware of this anomaly.

        I.M. Bates,

          Can anyone please steer me towards these lists of attendees [mentioned in Justin Reay’s post below] at Nelson’s funeral? I am trying to ascertain if Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower attended or not.

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