Important document with its intact blind embossed seal, signed at the header by Queen Victoria (1819-1901), dated 26th April 1852 to allow the General or the Officer Commanding the Armed Forces in Ireland to hold Courts Martial. It is countersigned by Spencer Horatio Walpole (1806-1898), a British Conservative Party politician who served three times as Home Secretary in the administrations of Lord Derby.
This document was signed at the end of the The Great Famine, a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. It is sometimes referred to as the Irish Potato Famine, because about two-fifths of the population was solely reliant on this cheap crop. During the famine, approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%.
The famine was a watershed in the history of Ireland, and its effects permanently changed the island's demographic, political, and cultural landscape. For both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora, the famine entered folk memory and became a rallying point for Irish nationalist movements. The already strained relations between many Irish and the British Crown soured further, heightening ethnic and sectarian tensions, and boosting Irish nationalism and republicanism in Ireland and among Irish emigrants in the United States and elsewhere.
"In pursuance of the Provisions of the Mutiny Act, and of Our Articles of War, hereunto annexed, We hereby Authorize and Empower you, from time to time, as occasion may require, to convene, or cause to be Assembled, District, or Garrison Courts Martial, for the Trial and Punishment of any Soldier belonging to Our Forces under your Command, who is, or shall be charged with Mutiny or Desertion, or with any other the Offences mentioned in the said Act of Parliament and Articles of War, as liable to be tried by such Court, or with any other Misdemeanour or Misbehavioiur, contrary to the Rules of Military Discipline; And We do hereby further Empower you to direct your Warrant to any Officer, not under the degree of a Field Officer, having the Command of a body of Our Forces (not less tahn four Troops or Companies) Authorizing him to convene from time to time, and without special reference to you, such Courts Martial as occasion may require, for the Trial and Punishment of any Soldier under his Command; which said District or Garrison Courts Martial shall be constituted, and shall proceed in the Field of the Offenders, and in giving Sentence, and avading Punishment (not extending to Death or Transportation) according to the Powers and Discretion contained in the said Act of Parliament and Articles of War.
And We do hereby Authorize you, or the Officer or whom you Command may devolve during your Absence, to receive the Proceedings and Sentences of such Courts Martial, to cause the same to be put in execution, or to suspend, mitigate, or remit the same, as shall be best for the good of Our Service.
And for so doing, this shall be, as well to you, as to the said District or Garrison Courts Martial, and all others whom it may concern, a sufficient Warrant and Authority.
Given at Our Court at St. James's
this 26th day of April 1852, in the fifteenth year of Our Reign.
By Her Majesty's Command
The General or Officer
Commanding the Forces in
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20th June 1837 until her death. From 1st May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.
Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke of Kent and King George III died in 1820, and Victoria was raised under close supervision by her German-born mother Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was already an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held relatively little direct political power. Privately, Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments; publicly, she became a national icon who was identified with strict standards of personal morality.
Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.
Her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors and is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.
Walpole was the second son of Thomas Walpole and Lady Margaret Perceval, youngest daughter of the 2nd Earl of Egmont and sister of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. His grandfather was Thomas Walpole, son of the diplomat the 1st Baron Walpole, younger brother of Prime Minister the 1st Earl of Orford. Walpole was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. He chose law as his profession, and was called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, in 1831. He built up a successful practice and was made a Queen's Counsel in 1846.
Walpole then turned to politics, and in 1846 he was elected to Parliament for Midhurst as a Tory, a seat he would hold until 1856. He quickly gained a reputation in the House of Commons, and when the Tories came to power in early 1852 under Lord Derby, Walpole was appointed Home Secretary in the so-called "Who? Who? Ministry". He was admitted to the Privy Council at the same time. However, the government fell in December 1852.
In 1856 Walpole was elected to Parliament for Cambridge University. Two years later the Tories (or the Conservatives as they became known during the 1850s) returned to office under Lord Derby. Walpole was again appointed Home Secretary, but resigned in January 1859 after disagreements over electoral reforms. The government was dismissed in July the same year. The Conservatives remained out of office for seven years, but in 1866 they again came to power under Derby, who made Walpole Home Secretary for the third time. However, he was severely criticized for his handling of the movement for parliamentary reform, and resigned in May 1867. He nonetheless continued to serve in the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio until February 1868, when Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister. Walpole never held office again, but remained a Member of Parliament (MP) for Cambridge University until 1882.
Walpole married his first cousin, Isabella Perceval, daughter of Spencer Perceval, in 1835. They had four children, two sons and two daughters. Their elder son Sir Spencer Walpole was a well-known historian. Walpole died in May 1898, aged 91.
Size: 22 x 20 cm approx