Issued by the British Consul Robert Annesley at the British Consulate in Antwerp for SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON, British Vice-Consul at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. HAMILTON served almost half a century as her Majesty’s consul. Passport in very good condition, rest of missing wax seal. A significant and early document of British Diplomacy! French language. Early 18th Century passports are in general hard to find but this is a gem! Sir William Hamilton passport‘Nous l’honorable Robert Annesley, Consul de Sa Majesté Britannique, &c., &c., &c.’ Dated 21 May 1818. Signed by ‘Robert Annesley’ and with an autograph note signed by ‘Vertonghen’, next to the red stamp of the Commissariat Special de Police’. Requesting that ‘Monsieur William Hamilton Vice-Consul Britannique se rendant a nous’ be allowed to travel unhindered with his baggage. Docketed in two hands in French on the reverse.
A member of a distinguished Scottish family, Sir William Hamilton was the longest-serving British consul of the nineteenth century or even in history (1826-1873). As the Pall Mall Gazette stated in an obituary (15 February 1877), he was ‘for upwards of half a century was her Majesty’s Consul at Boulogne-sur-Mer […] Sir William entered the navy in 1803 and was a prisoner of war in France from 1805 to 1814. He was appointed Vice-Consul at Flushing and Middleburg in 1817; at Antwerp, and afterward at Ostend, in 1818; at Nieuport, in 1820; and at Boulogne in 1822. In 1826 he was appointed Consul there and was knighted for his long official services in 1873 when he retired on a pension of £500 a year. Which is in today’s value a sum of approx. £305.000. Documents of Hamilton are in The National Archives e.g. his will.