Stafford Henry Northcote Earl Iddesleigh Signed Letter to Queen Victoria's Master of the Household Boer War 1882


Extraordinary signed letter dated 15th October 1882 from Stafford Henry Northcote, 1st Earl of Iddesleigh (1818-1887), known as Sir Stafford Northcote, to Major-General Sir John Clayton Cowell (1832–1894), giving his opinion on British ignorance regarding Boer War in South Africa. Written on stationery embossed with his family seat Moy Hall in Inverness.

Stafford Northcote was a British Conservative politician and served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1874 and 1880 and as Foreign Secretary between 1885 and 1886, and was one of only two people to hold the office of First Lord of the Treasury without ever being Prime Minister.

Cowell was a British Army officer and later Master of the Queen Victoria's Household and Governor of Windsor Castle.

The First Boer War was a war fought from 16 December 1880 until 23 March 1881 between Great Britain and the South African Republic and resulted in defeat for the British and the second independence of the South African Republic.

By 1899, when tensions erupted into the Second Boer War, the lure of gold made it worth committing the vast resources of the British Empire and incurring the huge costs required to win that war. However, the sharp lessons the British had learned during the First Boer War—which included Boer marksmanship, tactical flexibility and good use of ground—had largely been forgotten when the second war broke out 18 years later. Heavy casualties, as well as many setbacks, were incurred before the British were ultimately victorious.

The British government, under Prime Minister William Gladstone, was conciliatory as it realised that any further action would require substantial troop reinforcements, and it was likely that the war would be costly, messy and protracted. Unwilling to get bogged down in a distant war, the British government ordered a truce.

Size: 18.5 x 11.5 cm approx

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