Captain George Duff

Born 1764
Died in command of H M S Mars 21st October 1805


Letter dated HMS Mars, off Cadiz 27 October 1805
from First Lieutenant William Hennah to Mrs George Duff


I believe that a more unpleasant task, than what is now imposed upon me, can scarcely fall to the lot of a person, whose feelings are not more immediately connected by the nearer ties of kindred, but from a sense of duty, (as first Lieutenant of the Mars,) as being myself the husband of a beloved partner, and the father of children; out of the pure respect and esteem to the memory of our late gallant Captain, I should consider myself guilty of a base neglect, should you only be informed of the melancholy circumstances attending the late glorious, though unfortunate victory to many, by a public gazette. The consequences of such an event, while it may occasion the rejoicings of the nation, will in every instance be attended with the deepest regrets of a few.

Alas! Madam, how unfortunate shall I think myself, should this be the first intimation you may have of the irreparable loss you have met with! what apology can I make for entering on a subject so tender and so fraught with sorrow, but to recommend an humble reliance on this great truth, that the ways ef Providence, although sometimes inscrutable, are always for the best.

By this, Madam, you are in all probability acquainted with the purport of my letter. Amongst the number of heroes who fell on that ever-memorable 21st inst. in defence of their King and Country; after g1oriously discharging his duty to both; our meritorious and much respected Commander, Captain George Duff, is honourably classed; his fate was instantaneous; and he resigned his soul into the hands of the Almighty without a moment's pain.

Poor Norwich is very well. Capatain Blackwood has taken him on board the Euryalas, with the other young gentlemen that came with him, and their schoolmaster.

The whole of the Captain's papers and effects are sealed up, and will be kept in a place of security until proper persons are appointed to examine them. Meanwhile, Madam, 1 beg leave to assure you of my readiness to give you any information, or render you any service in my power.

               And am, Madam, with the greatest respect,
                    Your most obedient and most humble servant,
                                                   WILLIAM HENNAH.


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Updated at  19:04 on 12 March 2008