Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

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Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:03 am

G'day Guys,
This sword was presented to Lt William Lemoine ,Royal Artillery by Lt Col John Sutherland Williamson also of the Royal Artillery in 1817. Lemoine acted as Williamson's adjutant at Waterloo when he commanded the artillery of the third division. Williamson retired from the army and left the army of occupation in France in March 1817. Lemoine stayed on with the army of occupation in France until Novemeber 1818. The blade is 69cm long, unfullered and engraved with the 1801-1816 coat of arms, union flowers etc and the name of the retailer Maullin and Co. It has a "canted?" grip, covered in black leather and bound with silver wire, with a steel stirrup hilt. A section of existing engraving has been polished out to make room for the presentation inscription. Apart from the inscription there isn't any other reference to artillery.

When I bought this sword I was hoping this was Williamson's service sword, but I have been unable to prove it. Other almost identical versions of this sword exist, made by Osborn and one by Osborn and Gunby. The retailer Maullin and Co were Birmingham merchants who were in business at least as early as 1805, but unfortunately were still operating in 1817. These swords are usually described as flank or rifle officer's swords, but may have been favoured by artillery officers as well. I think that by 1817 this style of sword would have been a bit old fashioned, with the majority of blades seeming to be pipe-backed. Rather than black leather, fish skin seems to be the preferred covering for sword grips in the later Napoleonic period, which also makes me think this sword was probably made closer to 1805 than 1817.

I have seen brass hilted examples similar to this one also with the same "canted" grip and the langets engraved with the canon and canon balls of the Royal Artillery. For some reason there doesn't appear to have been a lot written about the swords of artillery officers. I think Cavalie Mercer may have mentioned officers carrying a small, very curved, undress sabre in his memoirs.

Do you think this style of "canted" grip may have been favoured by artillery officers for some reason?

Cheers,

Bryce
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Artillery officer 1.jpg
Artillery officer 1.jpg (70.35 KiB) Viewed 15306 times
Inscription1.jpg
Inscription1.jpg (49.29 KiB) Viewed 15306 times
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Will Mathieson » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:50 am

Wonderful sword with two names, artillery and dated. Could it be Lt Col John Sutherland Williamsons previous service sword as a younger officer?
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:19 am

Hello Bryce
Very nice and interesting sword. It does not look as though its a specially commissioned piece but rather (as I think you wish it to be) a service sword that has been converted to a presentation piece. In particular, but difficult to be sure from photos, has the original etching been removed in the area of the presentation engraving? Therefore it possibly might have been one of Williamson's service swords that he decided to give to Lemoine as a token of his appreciation (lets remember that officers of his rank would not just have had one sword). I suppose you have seen the entries in the Waterloo Roll Call for Williamson and Lemoine? If not, attached below.

Regarding Maullin & Co - I have never come across this company before. They first appear in the 1803 Birmingham directories (Chapmans) as 'Maullin, Thomas & Co. - Merchants' and go through to the 1816/17 Commercial Directory with the same designation. Unusual to see the name of a merchant in a blade at that time (apart from Runkel of course).

Regarding the pattern - I think this sort of short highly-curved sabre was typical of RA officers at that time. I can't say anything particular about the canted grip though. Cavalie Mercer who you mention, however, carried what looks like a standard 1796LC sword (see below - from W&W sale in 1979)

Richard
Attachments
P1020191.JPG
Williamson 1
P1020190.JPG
Williamson 2
P1020192.JPG
Lemoine
P1020189.JPG
Mercer's sword
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:56 am

G'day Richard,
It was definitely not a commissioned piece as you can see the remains of the engraving that was polished out to make way for the inscription. Also the style of engraving used in the inscription is very different from the rest of the blade engraving. I think it probably was a sword that Williamson already had, but I will never know if it was the one he carried at Waterloo.

Williamson was a very experienced campaigner by the time of Waterloo. He was forty years old and had spent the previous 20 years on almost continuous overseas service, beginning with Quiberon Bay, then Africa, Egypt, the Mediterranean and the Peninsular War. This was Lemoine's first overseas service.

After France ,Williamson returned to Britain and married his cousin. He rejoined the army 3 years later, but saw no more action. In 1828 he became the superintendent of the Woolwich repository.

After France, Lemoine served in Canada and eventually retired there.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:20 am

So all you need to do now is find their Waterloo medals ...
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:37 am

You bet,
No luck so far though.
Cheers,
Bryce
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Cavalry Canted hilt Presentation Sword

Postby Brimage » Sun Jan 10, 2016 12:19 am

Hi Bryce,

I have a sword similar to yours, however this one is inscribed for cavalry. Apart from that it is very close to yours in design.

Date: Circa 1797 (18th Century)
Nationality: British
Over Length: 33 3/8” 84.8 cm in scabbard, 31 ¾” 80.6 cm sword only
Blade length: 27 3/8” 69.6 cm
Blade widest point: 1 ½” 3.7 cm
Hilt widest point: 5 ½” 14 cm
Inside grip length: 3 ½” 8.9 cm
Marks, etc.: Engraved decoration, including latter addition engraved “Worn by Leonard Smelt when he joined Staplyton’s Light Cavalry in 1797”.

Description
1796 Light Cavalry Officers sabre. Canted Steel hilt, black leather and wire grip, mounted on a very strong angle from the blade. The Scabbard is plain steel. The heavily curved blade it etched with floral decoration and the word Warranted near the hilt. A latter inscription has been added “Worn by Leonard Smelt when he joined Staplyton’s Light Cavalry in 1797”. The wording would indicate that this has probably been added by a member of the family as a tribute to the swords original owner, rather than a presentation as such.

General Remarks
Research into Leonard Smelt and Staplyton’s light cavalry is ongoing at this time and any further assistance will be greatly appreciated. Records found to date list a Leonard Smelt as being a Colonel in the Alexandra, Princess of Wales own Yorkshire Regiment from 1758.

The only link with Staplyton found that I have found is Colonel Granville Anson Chetwynd Staplyton York Regiment of Fencibles Infantry 1794 – 1801 serving in Ireland. The swords inscription clearly indicates a cavalry connection not infantry? There also remains the possibility that the spelling of Staplyton on the sword is incorrect as the name is often recorded as Stapylton or Stapleton. Both versions of the surname are linked with a number of cavalry regiments.

Major General Granville Anson Chetwynd Staplyton was born in 1758 and died in 1834. He married a Staplyton and changed his name (usually for money reasons). He was a member of the independent company disbanded in 1791, then joined the 38th Regiment in 1794 (by purchase) Major in 1806. Involved with the Yorkshire Voluntary Cavalry, it is possible that Smelt was a member of Stalyptons independent Cavalry.

LIST OF OFFICERS North York Militia and the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, 1758 to 1907.
Smelt, Leonard (1) C. 1759
Smelt, Leonard (2) C.-L. 1797

Cheers Cathey and Rex Brimage
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_UK-Cavalry c1796-Officer's-Stirrup Hilt Smelt L.jpg
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:41 am

Hi Cathey

Another interesting sword, I shall see what I can find out about 'Staplyton's Light Cavalry' - a most unusual title. Calling a regiment or unit by the name of its Colonel (which Staplyton presumably was) is something that was fairly common up to the middle of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, referring to 'Light Cavalry' in 1797 is also most unusual - most units at that time would have been known as 'Light Dragoons'. What a mystery ...

Richard

PS, I have a feeling that the 16th Light Dragoons was unofficially known as 'Stapleton's Light Dragoons' during the time they were under the command of Lt Col (later Field-Marshal) Sir Stapleton Cotton c. 1800-1805?
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:13 am

G'day Cathey,

Your sword is almost identical to mine, apart from the fact your blade is etched and mine is engraved. The dimensions of your sword are the same as mine. Below is a close up of the hilt of my sword.
In your photos, it almost looks like where you would expect to find the name "H. Osborn" on the blade opposite to where "Warranted" is etched, has been hatched out. Is that right? Could this sword have been meant for an American officer? It seems like a lot of British made blades with American devices engraved on them only have "Warranted" on the blade rather than the maker's name. Having said that, I have a 1796 light cavalry sabre etched with American devices that still has "H Osborn's Warranted" on the blade. If your sword doesn't have the GR cypher or royal coat of arms it may further suggest the American angle?

Another example of this sword on the "oldswords" website is etched with "H Osborn Pall Mall London" which suggests a manufacture date of 1803-07. According to his service record, the only time John Williamson may have been back in Britain between 1795 and 1817 was Jan/Feb 1808, which ties in well with this manufacture date. I know there were probably all sorts of ways he could have got the sword while he was overseas as well.
Cheers,

Bryce
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Hilt1.jpg
Williamson Hilt
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:24 pm

There are a couple of very similar examples of this sword on the website of Pat Donnelly in the US (although not with such canted grips).
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Brimage » Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:35 pm

Hi Richard

Sorry for my late response, I was rather excited when you also suggested Stapleton Cotton as the cavalry connection for this sword. I had originally looked very closely at this chap, and then got caught up on the name being a surname. However 'Stapleton's Light Dragoons', makes more sense as clearly there was something considered particularly special about serving in this particular cavalry unit in 1797 to include it in the inscription. I would really like to solve this one after many years of research and confusion, any assistance you could provide to further support this avenue of research would be most appreciated.

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:12 pm

G'day Guys,

Just came across another Maullin & Co sword on an old SFI thread. This one has a similar blade, but a Mameluke hilt.

Cheers,

Bryce
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Maullin1.jpg
Mameluke Maullin
Maullin2.jpg
Mameluke Maullin
Artillery Maullin.jpg
Artillery Officer
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:09 am

I thought I would resurrect this post since I have just acquired the sabre below (courtesy of a fellow member of this forum). At first glance one would instinctively say artillery or light infantry - but there it is on the blade XIII LD (a famous Peninsula and Waterloo regiment). Made by Osborn & Gunby.
Richard
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:23 pm

G'day Richard,
Nice sword. Just goes to show that when it comes to swords of this period, there are no rules! Interesting that your sword has a fuller, whilst most of these don't. How long is the blade, around 70cm?
Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:16 pm

Hi Bryce
Yes, blade is fullered and quite wide at one and a half inches. Length is 28 inches, or 71cm
Richard
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby sword335 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:25 pm

That length suggests a dress sword rather than something used in anger.

Chris.
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:16 am

sword335 wrote:That length suggests a dress sword rather than something used in anger.

Chris.


Chris

Not necessarily, there is an account (but I can't remember the source*) of a young officer in the Peninsula writing home to his father asking him to send out a small sabre because the standard pattern (1796) was too big for him ....

Richard

* I think David Critchley found it
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby sword335 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:00 am

Yes, you forget just how young some of these ensigns or cornets were. There are records of ranks being purchased for four yeas olds although they didn't see active service ! Certainly 15 or 16 year olds could serve with a regiment and may well have wanted a smaller sword.

Chris.
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:59 pm

G'day Richard,

Historicalantiquearms.co.uk have another small light cavalry officer sword for sale. This one has a 1788 style hilt and an even shorter blade of 655mm. Like yours, this blade has a fuller, which shows the blade was intentionally made this short and hasn't been cut down. If not for the etched decoration of a mounted cavalry officer on the blade, you would assume it was for an infantry officer.

The combination of short blade and leather scabbard would almost certainly mean it is a dress sword wouldn't it?

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Richard » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:28 pm

Bryce wrote:G'day Richard

The combination of short blade and leather scabbard would almost certainly mean it is a dress sword wouldn't it?

Cheers,
Bryce


Hi Bryce

Possibly, but I would be loathe to make that assumption

Richard
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Juan J. Perez » Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:37 am

Hello, gents.

I have no particular references at hand, but in 18th century Hungarian and Austrian hussars' blades were sometimes quite wide and short. Not rare to see blades a bit under 80 cm.

This last short-sabre looks quite business-like indeed. A useful weapon in the right hands, I'd say. Even on horse.

Best,
JJ
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:35 pm

G'day Guys,

MichaelDLong currently has a similar sword for sale. This one is marked to a light infantry regiment, as you would normally expect, rather than a cavalry regiment like the two previous examples.

Cheers,
Bryce
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Re: Royal Artillery Officer Presentation Sword

Postby Bryce » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:40 am

Actually,
As Richard often needs to remind me, you shouldn't make assumptions. This thread demonstrates that an unmarked, 1796 light cavalry style officer's sword, in a steel or leather scabbard, could have belonged to just about anyone.
Cheers,
Bryce
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