Skip to main content

Jeffery Amherst Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MA.00196

Scope and Contents

The Jeffery Amherst Collection consists chiefly of handwritten letters exchanged between Jeffery Amherst and British army officials or government authorities. It also contains engraved portraits of General Amherst, bills signed by him, newspaper clippings and a set of eight medals commemorating British war victories in North America. This collection complements the Plimpton Collection of French and Indian War Items, especially Series 1: Loose Correspondence. Correspondents include Thomas Hancock, Colonel John Bradstreet, Viscount William Barrington and Henry Dundas.

Dates

  • 1757-1874
  • Majority of material found within 1757-1797

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Jeffery Amherst Collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from Jeffery Amherst Collection should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.

Biographical Note

Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst, was born at Riverhead, in the parish of Sevenoaks, Kent, England, on January 29, 1717. His career as a British soldier began in 1735 when, at the age of eighteen, he joined the First Regiment of Foot Guards as an ensign. While in Europe, Amherst fought in the War of Austrian Succession and, at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756 he confronted the French both in England and in Germany. In 1758, he was summoned back to England by Prime Minister William Pitt to take command of an army of over 11,000 men ordered to attack Louisburg, the great French stronghold in North America. As commander-in-chief of the British troops during the French and Indian War (1756-1763), Amherst led the conquest of Louisburg, Quebec City and Montréal. He also served as the nominal Governor of Virginia (1759-1768), and was the first British Governor General (1760-1763) in the territories that eventually became Canada. Jeffery Amherst left North America in 1763, and retreated to his property in Kent, Great Britain. In 1768, when King George III decided that all governors should reside in the Colonies, Amherst resigned as governor of Virginia, giving up his military commissions as well. Several months later he was given additional military commissions and 20,000 acres in New York and was appointed to the sinecure governorship of the island of Guernsey. He declined to command the British forces in New England during the American Revolution. In 1776 Amherst served as military adviser to the Cabinet and was made Baron Amherst of Holmesdale. After France entered the war in 1778, he was appointed commander of the military forces in England and was active in the suppression of the Gordon riots. At the beginning of 1793, in view of the approaching war with France in 1792, Amherst - though now 76 years of age - was recalled to active duty and appointed commander-in-chief with a seat in the cabinet. He retired again two years later.

Promoted field marshal as of 30 July 1796, Amherst died on 3 Aug. 1797. He was married twice, but left no descendants. In 1788, though, the title Baron Amherst of Montreal was conferred with a special remainder allowing the title to pass to his nephew, William Pitt Amherst. (It is in honor of General Amherst that the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts was named when it was incorporated in 1759; Amherst College derives its name from the town.)

[Sources used: "Jeffery Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst." Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2010. Web. 25 Jan. 2010 http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9035340; Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Web. 25 Jan. 2010 http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=35854. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Web. 29 Jan 2010 http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC]

Extent

2.25 Linear feet (3 flat oversize boxes, 1 archives box, 1 small media box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Correspondence, portraits, news clippings, bills, and commemorative medals documenting Jeffery Amherst's career in the British Army. Correspondents include Thomas Hancock, Colonel John Bradstreet, Viscount William Barrington and Henry Dundas.

Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series:

  1. Series 1: Loose Correspondence, 1757-1874 (bulk 1757-1797)
  2. Series 2: Letter Books, 1742-1778
  3. Series 3: Medals, 1758-1789
  4. Series 4: Portraits and Memorabilia, 1792-1967

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Jeffery Amherst Collection (1757-1797) was assembled in 2010 from materials either purchased by or donated to the Amherst College Library by alumni since the 1930s. Some of the letters are accompanied by transcriptions provided by their respective donors.

Related Materials

  1. Plimpton Collection of French and Indian War Items, 1670-1934
  2. Town of Amherst Collection, 1845-
  3. William Pitt Amherst Family Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Isadora Mota
Date
2010
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299