King's College London
Online Exhibitions
Young's Essay on Tobago

British government response

Manuscript letter from Young to Lord Liverpool, 1811, enquiring as to whether his report has been received. Courtesy of the National Archives. Reference: CO 285/16, ‘Correspondence, original - Secretary of State 1811Manuscript letter from Young to Lord Liverpool, 1811, enquiring as to whether his report has been received. Courtesy of the National Archives. Reference: CO 285/16, ‘Correspondence, original - Secretary of State 1811There appears to have been no formal response to, or acknowledgement of, Young’s report by the British Government.

From Young’s correspondence with the Colonial Office, reproduced here, it is evident he did not receive confirmation of the receipt of his report. He feared it had fallen into enemy hands.

The secretary of state for war and the colonies, Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, was overseeing the incredibly demanding Peninsular War during early 1811. It is likely that the considerations for increasing military presence in the colonies was just not a practical viability at the time, and this report was subsequently overlooked.

There is further evidence of the British government’s relative lack of interest in Tobago. Using the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP) through the Foyle Special Collections online resources portal, it is evident that Young’s report is not mentioned at all in parliamentary records.

In fact, Tobago is seldom mentioned in parliament up until the 1814 Treaty of Paris. Here, Tobago was set to be secured under British interests after the defeat of Napoleon, but prominent Whig politician, Sir Samuel Romilly, believed it to be a hollow victory.

He spoke of British colonial possessions such as Tobago to be a ‘light advantage’ and was disheartened by the terms of the peace treaty which consented to France’s continuation of the slave trade.

In this exhibition


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