James Wolfe

James Wolfe, British General Who Won Canada for the British, Exceedingly Scarce Signed Document

James Wolfe, British General Who Won Canada for the British, Exceedingly Scarce Signature



An army reformer who attained high rank at a young age, Major-General James Wolfe was Britain's most celebrated military hero of the 18th century. His victory over the French at Quebec in 1759 resulted in the unification of Canada and the American colonies under the British crown. His death at a very young age has made his signature exceedingly scarce.


Single page document signed, 9" x 3.5". Dated "Glasgow 27 June 1752", and signed by James Wolfe as "Jam Wolfe". A check addressed to William Adair, Pall Mall London, authorizing payment of £30 "eight days after sight … to the order of Robert Finlay .. For value received and place the same to my account…" Fine condition with slight edgewear and with strong vibrant ink. Accompanied by an interesting receipt dated 1944 acknowledging the previous sale of this document on Feb 17, 1944 by John Heise Autographs.


In the continuing conflict between the French and British in Canada, Wolfe distinguished himself as a brigadier under Gen. Jeffery Amherst in early 1758 during the successful siege of Ft. Louisbourg. After ravaging the settlements of the "Canadian vermin" along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he returned to England although he had received no specific orders to do so. Then, becoming bored with garrison life, he offered his services to Prime Minister William Pitt, expressing a preference for duty in the St. Lawrence area.

In Pitt's plan to take Canada, Amherst was to drive north to take Ticonderoga and Montreal. Wolfe, now a major-general, was given an independent command to take Quebec. On June 4, 1759, the expedition sailed from Louisbourg with a total of 8,500 troops, and by June 27 the army had disembarked and camped on Île d'Orléans opposite Quebec. A bombardment of Quebec from batteries on Pointe de Le'vis and raiding parties through the countryside failed to lure the French commander, the Marquis de Montcalm, out of the city. On July 31 a British attack at Beauport failed because of strong French resistance and a sudden storm.

Wolfe sent out punitive expeditions, burning homes and killing inhabitants, hoping that the Canadians would desert Montcalm. Illness swept through the British army. Wolfe's personal relations with the officers of the army worsened. The famous statement, "I can only say, Gentlemen, that if the choice were mine, I would rather be the author of these verses [Gray's "Elegy"] than win the battle which we are to fight tomorrow morning," is said to have been uttered by Wolfe in a fit of pique when his officers did not properly appreciate his recitation.

On Sept. 3, 1759, the Pointe de Le'vis camp was evacuated, and preparations were made for an all-out attack on the city before cold weather. On the night of September 13, the British scrambled up a zig-zag path at Anse au Foulon and overpowered the French guard at the top of the cliff. On the following morning the British were drawn up on the Plains of Abraham. Montcalm sallied out of the city, and the battle began about 2 P.M.

Early in the battle Wolfe received a wound in the wrist froma sniper and later a belly wound from an artillery splinter. He had his ranks hold their fire until the enemy were within 50 yards. The badly mauled French were routed; their general was among the fatalities. Wolfe received another wound, through the lungs, supposedly from the gun of an English deserter. He died shortly afterward with the words: "Now, God be praised. Since I have conquered, I will die in peace." Quebec surrendered on September 18. Wolfe's body was returned to England and was buried in the family vault at Greenwich.


Item: 66007

Price: $9,500.00
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James Wolfe
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