Here’s a gem I discovered in the Hoare MSS (a kind of add-on to the Chatham Papers at the National Archives) a while back: a glimpse of John’s military life while he was stationed in Quebec from 1774 until early 1776. John was a lieutenant in the 47th Foot and served as one of the aides-de-camp of the governor, Sir Guy Carleton. The letter is written to Lord and Lady Chatham (John’s parents) by J. Wood, presumably John’s valet. I’ve left the English largely as spelled by Wood, so bits may have to be read aloud! (Preferably with a Zomerzet accent!)
Quebec, 13 November 1774
Pleas to acquaint My Lord & Lady my Lord Pitt, is perfectly well, and has been so ever since he left England, his Lordship is not grown much in high, but is spread much thicker which I think his Lordship looks better for, the only inconvenience attends it, is his Cloaths being to little, and have no remedy but letting them out, as thair is no new Regimentals to be got at Quebec, & I will Venter to take the liberty of acquainten my Lord & Lady how my Lord Pitt passes his time in America, as I think it will not be disagreeable, for them, to hear, tho was Lord Pitt to no I had taken such a liberty he might be angery with me, His Lordship is up every morning and Dresst by seven o’clock, reads till nine, then to Breakfast with General Carleton ware his Lordship intirely Boards, attainds the Parade every Day at Eleven as that is the sure of the gard mountain, tho his Lordship his not a great deal to do thair, as the 47 regiment is not here, only som small imployments as being Addecamp to General Carleton. After his Lordship has attainded the Parade he rides or walkes if the wather will permit, if not, Reads fences or exercises with the firelock as he is learning the Exercise of the regiment that is here, as it is different from the Twentyth. His Lordship has been drest and at the Chateau, every day by a Quarter of hour before Dinner time, thare has been generally every week two large entertainments at the Chateau so that his Lordship sees a great deal of different Company. But Quebec is rather dul for his Lordship at present as greatest part of the Military Gentleman is gon to Boston, His Lordship has frequently dined with Major Calwell who lives two Miles from this town, General Carleton and Lady Marria’s [Carleton’s wife] politeness to my Lord Pitt when on board of Ship, and here, is very Great, as they never think they have all their family when my Lord Pitt is not there, I am afeard I shall take to great a liberty in given so long account of my Lord, so that I will conclude with begin leaf to offer my Duty to my Lord and Lady, Lady Hester Lady Harriot, Mr Pitt & Mr James Pitt, pleas to acquaint Mr James Pitt I have not seen any Soldier, in America, that is able to Exercise any Thing like so well as Serjeant Rogers [? I have NO idea what this is about], The wether upon the whole has been very fine ever since we landed here, but know growes rather cold, Heavy rains and a great deal of snow is daily expectd, notwithstanding the severity of the whether every body here perfers winter before Summer, after the snow is down and the frost thoroughly Seting. My Lord Pitt Desires to have sent by the first Ship that Sails for Quebec, Cloath & Buttons & other trimmins for two sutes of Regimentals, with two Epaulettes to each Coat, doe or buckskin to make two pair of Rideing Breeches a new saddle and bridle with bit and Burdoon the same as what his Lordship youst to ride Serjeant in, to send 20th of Pipe Clay, for cleaning of Cloaths.
Pleas to make my best Complits. to Mrs Sparry [the Pitt children’s nurse] Mr Willbeir [former colleague of Lord Chatham and tenant on the Hayes estate] & to all friends at Hayes from your affectionate friend