The document will be on display at one of the group's buildings in Ocean Village. / sur

Ocean Village Group acquires important historic manuscript

The document, which is 300 years old, is a warrant penned by James Berkeley, First Lord of the Admiralty, and is particularly relevant to Gibraltar

DEBBIE BARTLETT Gibraltar

The Ocean Village Group has confirmed that it was the successful auction bidder in London for a historic manuscript dating back to the 1720s, penned by James Berkeley, who was the 3rd Earl of Berkeley and First Lord of the Admiralty.

In a press statement, the Ocean Village Group explained that the single-sheet manuscript is nearly 300 years old and was written in times of completely different relations between the now close NATO allies Spain and the UK. It was written by the 3rd Earl (who was himself a distinguished Royal Navy officer) just 22 years after an Anglo-Dutch fleet captured Gibraltar in 1704, in the War of the Spanish Succession.

The warrant was penned to Vice Admiral Sir Charles Wager, who was in command of the English naval fleet operating off the coast of Spain. The instructions in the historic document were to “…take, sink, burn or otherwise destroy..” any Spanish vessels sighted by the fleet as a response to the hostile actions of Spain over Gibraltar.

The Vice Admiral, Sir Charles Wager, had sailed under Sir George Rooke with the fleet that captured Gibraltar in 1704, adding further historic Gibraltar-linked relevance in the piece.

Wager was also a Privy Counsellor and went on to serve as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1733 to 1742, before his death in May 1743, aged 77. He is buried in the north transept of Westminster Abbey, in London.

Ocean Village Group’s Chairman Gregory Butcher was delighted to have successfully acquired the document, and said:

“When we saw that this item was going to auction, we knew we must acquire it. As the proud owners of two marinas in Gibraltar, we feel very close to our maritime history. This manuscript helps to outline just how far our western society has come in nearly 300 years, as we now enjoy a close and strong working relationship with marinas in Spain, fostering trade and prosperity across this fantastic southern Mediterranean region.

We will be working in close collaboration with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust to display the manuscript safely for everyone to inspect in one of our buildings, in Ocean Village.”