An Important Archive Relating to Field Marshall Sir John French

Date of Auction: 14th December 2006

Sold for £1,600

Estimate: £400 - £500

Warrant appointing The Right Honourable John Denton Pinkstone, Viscount French, K.P. &c. to be “Lieutenant-General and General Governor of that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland” dated 7th May 1918 and signed by [Sir] Almeric Fitzroy, Clerk to the Privy Council. Single printed sheet (one copy only printed, HMSO, 1918), foolscap, royal seal affixed at top left corner, very good £400-500


French’s tenure as Governor of Ireland was not attended with success. A misguided attempt to raise recruits for the British Army with the vague promise of the grant of Home Rule was a dismal failure. The country reached a state whereby it could only be governed by military authority and “degenerated into a campaign of aggression and punishment, of outrages and reprisals” [DNB]. In December 1919 an assassination attempt failed when a bomb and shots were aimed at French’s car. French finally retired in April 1921, having presided over one of the most depressing episodes in Irish history.