New Acquisitions

'News from Nelson's Right-Hand Man' or
'What the Butler Saw'


The Royal Naval Museum has just acquired a collection of letters that offer an insider's view of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, and of life aboard HMS Victory, in the years before the Battle of Trafalgar. These letters were sent by William Chevallier, who served as Nelson's steward from May 1803, to Nelson's great friend and prize agent Alexander Davison. Davison had recommended Chevallier to Nelson, and the steward served in his retinue for 18 a year. These letters remained with the Davison family until the recent sale of his effects at Sotheby's in London.

Chevallier was full of praise for Nelson's kindness and full of admiration for his dedication as a commander, but he was not always happy on the ship and had problems with other officers. However, the relationship between admiral and servant was a happy one. In January 1804 Nelson wrote 'I find Mr Chevalier everything which you have recommended, and I wonder he has not set up some hotel'. Other comments show that Nelson relied on Chevallier to purchase his food and other items he required, and by the time of Nelson's death he was clearly a trusted servant. Chevallier was with Nelson as he died, turning his body to make him more comfortable. When the Victory returned to Portsmouth Chevallier was charged with the care of Nelson's personal possessions which he returned to Emma Hamilton.

Death of Nelson by Arthur Devis

There are 3 letters which read as follows:

1. Prizes of War
2. Wages of War
3. Strains of War


The Royal Naval Museum is a Registered Charity : No 266563

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Created 16 January 2003
Last modified 4 March 2003