Mackintosh clan letters in North Yorkshire sale

An outstanding archive of letters written to clan chief The Mackintosh of Mackintosh, the majority of which are personal autographed letters from the British Royal Family, are coming up for auction in the Books, Maps & Manuscripts Sale at Tennants Auctioneers on December 13 with an estimate of £1,000-2,000.

Written in the first half of the 20th century, many of the letters discuss shooting at Moy Hall, the seat of the Chief of Clan Mackintosh, and were written by Prince George (later King George V), Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII), and Prince Albert (later King George VI).

In addition, there are letters from Queen Mary, the Duchess of Albany, and the last letter written by The Mackintosh’s son, Angus, before he died in North America in 1918. Alfred Donald Mackintosh of Mackintosh (1851-1938) was the 28th Chief of Clan Mackintosh and Chief of Clan Chatton. He and his wife divided their time between Moy Hall, near Inverness and Cottrell House in Glamorgan, his wife’s family home. A great friend of King George V, he devoted a great deal of his time to hunting, shooting, and fishing.

On a similar theme is an interesting manuscript diary giving a unique insight into the life of a young aristocrat and army officer in the late 19th century, estimated at £200-£400. Covering the period between March 25 and December 31, 1878, the diary is thought to have been penned by William George Frederick Cavendish Bentinck (1856-1948), father of the 8th and 9th Dukes of Portland and husband of the socialist suffragette Ruth Cavendish Bentinck. The fascinating diary details military training, dinners and London balls, theatre and racing trips, hunting, the House of Lords, grouse shooting, house parties at country estates including Sledmere and Nun Appleton, and a tour of France and Italy. In addition, the young Cavendish Bentinck went to view the scene of the terrible maritime disaster in which 600-700 people died when a pleasure steamer and a coal transport ship crashed on the Thames east of Woolwich. He recounts: “a steam launch…. Takes us down the river to where the collision between the Princess Alice and Bywell Castle took place we see innumerable boats dragging for dead bodies and about 7 recovered whilst we are on the spot on our return to Deptford we stop at Woolwich to view 75 bodies of the unclaimed drowned a ghastly and terrible sight”.

A further interesting diary in the sale is a First World War ‘trench’ diary written by an unknown Yorkshire soldier, estimated at £150-250. The writer, thought to have been a signaller in a Royal Artillery company attached to the 49th West Riding Division, details life in France beginning with the journey to Le Havre on April 12, 1915, and going on to note details of laying signals, handling horses, visiting towns and villages, meals, injuries, shelling and the mud and rain. The diary ends abruptly on December 19, 1915 with an entry regarding a gas attack. This coincides with the first use of Phosgene gas against British Soldiers, in which the 49th (West Riding) Division was attacked north of Ypres.

Also of note in the sale are a collection of 18 early photographs of mountains by Vittorio Sella (1859-1943), to be sold in three lots, with estimates starting at £200-£300. Sella was born in Biella, Northern Italy, the son of a serious amateur photographer who had published the first Italian treatise on photography. Having taken his first panorama of the Alps from the summit of Mount Mars in 1879, Sella went on to climb and photograph some of the most challenging summits across four continents, many of which had never been photographed before. This collection of large format silver print photographs was purchased in 1945 by the vendor’s father, a British Army Captain, while stationed in Biella.