Monte Video – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & ‘Hush Christopher Robin’ Mark 1

‘Most histories of the American Revolution discuss the French Navy’s involvement only near the end of the war at the Battle of the Chesepeake in September 1781.

In fact from the moment France entered the war in 1778, its navy was fighting the British in many parts of the world, and this proved to be the most decisive factor in bringing the opposing parties to the peace Table’. Essays in the American Revolution – A World War, David K. Allison, Larrie D. Ferreiro, eds. Smithsonian


In 1775 at Lexington Britain had gone to war with her North American colonists. But not all of them.

Loyalists troops fought their Patriot brothers and neighbours ed by General George Washington. In 1778 France mobilised her navy and declared war on Britain. Spain followed in 1779.

French money, men, munitions and military know-how poured in to support Washington’s home-grown militia.

In September 1781 off Chesapeake a French squadron under Admiral de Grasses, although inferior in manoeuvrability to their British opponents, prevented reinforcements reaching  Lord Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown as he prepared for what proved to be the pivotal battle of America’s Revolutionary War of Independence(1775-1783).

In October 1781 Cornwallis’ large army  starved of men and heavy artillery fell to a combined army of French regulars and Washington’s militia.

Lengthy peace negotiations had began by mid 1782. Separate agreements were settled progressively culminating with a ceremonial signing of the Treaty of Versailles  in September 1783 bringing a formal end to America’s Revolutionary War.

London:  Meanwhile  in March 1782 Lord North resigned as Prime Minister. He was succeeded by Lord Rockingham. Four (4) months later – July 1782 – Rockingham died.  The  position passed to the then Home Secretary Lord Shelburne who held the Prime Ministership for a year. until July 1783.

London – 4 July 1782: Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney – inherited the office of Home Secretary from William Petty, Lord Shelburne, along with a mountain of unfinished business.

Included were the bones of previous ventures aimed at gaining territory in order to establish a passage across a narrow isthmus that would expose Spain’s Central and South American colonial possessions to attack from both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. See: Proximity not Tyranny of Distance


The first of these  planned to launch marauding hit and run raids on Spain’s colonial territories  of Monte Video, present-day Uruguay, then onto  Buenos Aires, present-day Argentina,  on the Atlantic Coast of South America.

Brazil: Lord Sydney tasked Lieutenant Arthur Phillip RN, who had spent nigh on three (3) years in Rio Brazil seconded to the Portuguese Navy, design a strategy that would achieve this end.

The son of Jacob an ’emigre´ from Frankfurt Germany who taught languages his father is thought to have died round 1751.

We do know in June 1751Arthur entered the Greenwich Hospital School for sons of poor and/or sailors.

By then it appears Arthur was fluent in German and French with a firm grasp of Spanish and  Portuguese. Down the track this facility made Phillip an exceptionally effective spy.

‘Few personal documents relating to Phillip’s service survive; his low personal profile and the secret work in which he was sometimes involved make him one of the least-known founders of any modern  – in his case Australia’. Nigel, Rigby, Peter Van Der Merwe and Glyn Williams, Pacific Exploration, Voyages of Discovery from Captain Cook’s Endeavour to the Beagle, National Maritime Museum Greenwich, Bloomsbury, Adlard Coles 2018     


Arthur’s mother  Also his mother Elizabeth’s first husband John Herbert an able seaman serving on HMS Tartar died probably of yellow fever off Jamaica.   Elizabeth was closely related to Captain Michael Everitt RN.

deceased Phillip was accepted by then appears to have had a firm grasp on French, German, Spanish.

This made Phillip an exceptionally effective spy.

In Brazil he had access to a myriad of anti-Spanish dissenters ripe for rebellion and reported directly to Lord Sandwich at the Admiralty.


San Juan: Phillip’s plan sought to redress the glaring errors inherent in the hit and miss planning for the earlier San Juan (Dalling) Expedition of 1779-80 that; ‘cost the lives of more than 2500 men, making it the costliest British disaster of the entire [American] war’. John Sugden, Nelson: A Dream of Glory 1758-1797, Henry Holt, New York, 2004 


‘It will be asked why, when we have as great, if not a greater, force than we ever had, the enemy are superior to us. To this is to be answered that England till this time was never engaged in a sea war with the House of Bourbon thoroughly united, their naval force unbroken, and resources and having no other war or object to draw off their attentions and resources’. Lord Sandwich cited R.J. King, The The Secret History of the Convict Colony p. 35

1783: Britain, driven by the humiliation of defeat and the loss of her ‘Empire in the West, the thirteen (13) American ‘middle colonies’, was determined to penetrate Spain’s ‘treasure‘ colonies in South America.

Monte Video- Buenos Aires : To maintain utmost secrecy Lieutenant Phillip planned only four (4) vessels would sail from England. After rendezvousing at sea with a larger group sailing from the East Indies. After sorting the logistics, the combined force would proceed to mount marauding raids on the two (2) locations.


Portsmouth – 16 January 1783: Captain Phillip HMS Europa 64 guns, HMS Grafton 70 guns and a supply frigate HMS Iphigenia 32 guns, under overall command of Sir Richard Kingsmill HMS Elizabeth 74 guns, departed Portsmouth in mid January 1783.

When it became known that terms of a peace treaty between Spain and Britain had been reached by May 1783 the expedition had to be abandoned in mid-ocean.

Paris: This was first of a series of agreements forming the Treaty of Versailles. Ceremoniously signed off in September 1783  the Treaty brought a formal end to the American War of Independence 1775-1783.

But it bring lasting peace? Some modern military historians regard it more truce than treaty. The ‘brittle and precarious’ served as a mere breathing space.

Time to sort out alliances, organise, refit, re-arm and re-position for further conflict. The invasion of New Holland falls within the planning arc of the next global war 1793-1815. See: Why New Holland – Britain + America + India + France + Spanish South America = European Australia

Invasion 1788: Britain’s conquest and occupation of Australia’s Sovereign First Nations’ Peoples’ lands, fits neatly into the hiatus created by the Treaty of Versailles – 1783 – and must be considered contemporaneous with the American War of Independence. See: Shelburne and the Treaty of Versailles (pending)


‘There were plans to use the corps in expeditions against Panama, Peru and the Philippines, but nothing eventuated’. Dr.Peter Stanley, The Remote Garrison, The British Army in Australia 1788 -1870, Kangaroo Press, Sydney, 1986



London – Court of St James:  ‘We reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, …under the Great Seal of Great Britain [do] constitute and appoint you Governor and Commander-in-Chief of our territory called New South Wales….according to the rules and disciplines of war’. King George 111 to Arthur Phillip, 25 April 1787. Historical Records of New South Wales Vol. 1 See: Botany Bay – Lord Sydney, Arthur Phillip & Christopher Robin – Mark 2


‘The troops sent to garrison the Australian colonies participated in the great struggle at the heart of the European conquest of this continent…They fought in one of the most prolonged frontier wars in the history of the British empire, and for the first half of their stay were probably more frequently in action than the garrison of any other colony besides of southern Africa’. Stanley. ibid. 


‘Hush hush whisper who dares’. A.A. Milne, Vespers, When We Were Very Young

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