Oglethorpe’s account of his encounter with Captain Richard Onslow and Mr. Sharp was prompted by a news note that appeared in the London Daily Journal on March 27, 1722: “We are inform’d from Haslemere in Surry, that Mr. Oglethorpe drew his Sword there on Mr. Sharp (Secretary to the present Bishop of London) and wounded him in the Belly: Which Insult being resented by Capt. Onslow, Mr. Oglethorpe and he Drew, and in the Re-encounter both being slightly wounded, the Capt. disarmed Mr. Oglethorpe without pushing his Resentment so far as the Provocation deserved.”
Captain Richard Onslow, a younger brother of Speaker Arthur Onslow, was in 1727 to be elected to Parliament as a supporter of the administration. Mr. Sharp was not the private secretary of John Robinson, Bishop of London; but the bishop doubtless required numerous secretaries or assistants for his manifold administrative and parliamentary responsibilities.1
My text reproduces Oglethorpe’s response as published in the London Daily Journal for March 29, 1722.2
London, March 29, 1722,
AN untarnish’d Reputation is dearer to every honest Man than Life, and printing Lies without the Author’s Name, is like Stabbing in the Dark; News-Writers, in whose Power it is to blacken the most spotless Character, should have very good Authority before they publish Things prejudicial to any one’s Reputation, since the Injury they do thereby is almost irreparable, Men being more willing to believe the Scandal, than the Recantation. I am lead into these Reflections by the falseness of the Article from Haslemere, publish’d in your Paper of Tuesday last, and must desire you, in Justice to me, to publish the following true Account of what happen’d there.
On Sunday the 25th, after Evening Service, Captain Onslow and Mr. Sharpe, meeting Mr. Burrell and Mr. Oglethorpe in the Market-Place at Haslemere, Mr. Oglethorpe tax’d Mr. Sharpe with some Stories that he had rais’d, Mr. Sharpe giving him a warm Answer, Mr. Oglethorpe corrected him for it; Captain Onslow stepping in between[,] Mr. Sharpe drew his Sword, on which Mr. Oglethorpe, Captain Onslow, and Mr. Burrell also drew. In the Scuffle Mr. Oglethorpe wounded Mr. Sharpe in the Belly, and Captain Onslow in the Thigh, Mr. Burrell beating down Mr. Oglethorpe’s Thrusts, of which Captain Onslow taking advantage seiz’d on the Blade of Mr. Oglethorpe’s Sword with his Left Hand, and said, your Life is in my Power, Mr. Oglethorpe answer’d, do your worst, and struggling, tore his Sword thro’ the Captain’s Hand which is very much disabled. The Mob being gathered, no more happen’d; Mr. Oglethorpe (who was not wounded) bound up Capt. Onslow’s Wounds and sent for a Surgeon to him.
These are Facts; for the Truth of which I appeal to Captain Onslow himself, I am, SIR,