It would seem our former Ship's Surgeon knew about Baptiste's promotion before Baptiste did! The following is the letter Baptiste got as part of the mail packet that arrived while ashore at the Jane Austen Festival.
Old Harbour, Jamaica
29th June, 1805
My dear Baptiste,
By now, I suspect that you have received your warrant from the Admiralty assigning you to the Surgeon’s position aboard our old Acasta and I give you joy of your promotion! I can not think of a man better suited for the task.
Know sir that it was only my Esteem and affection for you that I recommended you for the posting, and not simply motivated out of a desire to keep poor, unfortunate Mr. Ried out of that position.
I am bound for Whitehall by way of Jamaica and Liverpool aboard a vessel called the ‘Mercury’. She is a little thing compared to our Acasta, but said to be stout and reasonably fast and we are to meet up with HMS Theseus and a convoy on our return trip.
It is likely that I will be some time on my special assignment for Sir Joseph and the Crown and I thought it best to leave the Acasta and her crew in the most capable hands I could think of. Your new position as Surgeon is that of a Warrant Officer, therefore you may require a new suit of clothes. Fortunately, with your new position comes an increase in pay to 5 pounds per lunar month.
Not only do you get to select your own assistants, but you will need to find yourself a personal servant, as I will be taking Vassermann with me.
If this letter was deliver’d as it was supposed to be, it should have arrived to you with the Doctor’s chair, which I gift to you. I cannot rightly carry it in the field on my business for Sir Joseph. It belongs with you aboard our Acasta.
When the war is over, it is still my hope to start the private practice as per our previous discussions. It would please me greatly to have you and your family join us on our estate and for you to assist me. Our place is near Woolhampton, the village straddles the London to Bath road between the towns of Reading and Newbury. Tell them at the parish that you’re looking for ‘Birdsall Cottage’ and they shall steer you in the right direction. You should enjoy Woolhampton, it’s very green and located on the river Kennet, so there are plenty of frogs and snakes for you to catch and study in your leisure hours. We can fill every jar in the house with specimens!
I wish you all health and success in your new endeavour, and know you to be equal to the task,
Yr Obt Svt,
Dr. A. Roberts
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