Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)
Date of Auction: 25th September 2008
Sold for £2,100
Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200
FootnoteEx Perkins Collection 1990 and Dean Collection 1992.
18 medals were awarded to Army recipients for Algiers, including 3 to the Royal Engineers and 8 to the Royal Sappers and Miners.
Richard Perry/Parry was born in 1783 in Roselidden Street, Wendron, East Cornwall, in a small community dependent upon the mining of local deposits of tin. At the age of about nine he followed his father and brothers and became a miner of the deposits of tin at Trevenen Mine, one mile south-east of Wendron. This was one of two ancient tin-works in the Wendron district where the Newcomen steam-pump was first used at the beginning of the 19th-century. Some twenty years later, Perry enlisted as a Miner in the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners on 18 December 1813, at the age of thirty, joining the headquarters of the 2nd Company 2nd Battalion at Portsmouth.
At the time, the Company was serving in France, but returned to Portsmouth in mid-July 1814. In the late Spring of 1815, Perry and this Company were hurried off to Ostend for service at the frontier posts and fortresses in the Netherlands. After the victory at Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the British advanced into France on the road to Paris. Cambrai capitulated without a shot, but at Peronne the commandant refused to surrender. Here Perry’s company led the assault on 26 June 1815, one portion being with the ladders for the escalade of the right bastion of the hornwork, the other with two guns to blow in the gate and enter through the ravelin. After bombardment by the two guns, Sub-Lieutenant W. Stratton and Lance-Corporal Edward Councill clambered over the damaged gate, forced their way through the spikes, and jumped into the work. They then tore down the fastenings and admitted the troops, Stratton being severely wounded. Captain Alexander Thomson RE, who led the escalade at the bastion, was also severely wounded. The Company returned to England six months later on 9/10 February 1816, arriving in Woolwich. Perry later received his share of the War Prize money for Waterloo and the Capture of Paris.
He was then transferred to the 7th Company 1st Battalion at Chatham for service with the Navy. This was the only sapper company to serve with Admiral Lord Exmouth’s Squadron for the bombardment of Algiers. On 20 July 1816, Perry embarked at Portsmouth on board H.M.S. Impregnable, with a detachment of 39 members of the 7th Company, the other 45 members of the Company embarking aboard H.M.S. Queen Charlotte, Exmouth’s flag-ship. The Corps History by Connolly records that:
“On the 27th August the 7th Co/1st Bn under Captain William Reid RE and Major William Gosset RE, had the high honour of participating with the fleet, under Lord Exmouth, in a splendid triumph. This was the battle of Algiers. Under the idea that it might become necessary to land and destroy some of the batteries and works covering the harbour of Algiers, the company, eighty-four strong, was attached to the fleet; but owing to the daring intrepidity and able nautical manoeuvres of Lord Exmouth, its services as miners were not required. Throughout the action, therefore, they fought with the seamen at the guns of the "Queen Charlotte" and the "Impregnable", and gained equal credit with the navy and marines for their noble support.”
The sapper company returned to Portsmouth in the Queen Charlotte and the Glasgow frigate in September and October 1816, and as a reward for their services each soldier received a gratuity of two months’ pay. Perry was stationed in Portsmouth from October 1816 to March 1817, when his company then moved to Jersey where he served until December 1818. On the reduction of the Corps, he was discharged on 18 February 1819, aged 36, with just over six years service, to reside in Cornwall. From the family home in Roselidden Street in Wendron, he returned to his former occupation as a Tin Miner at the Trevenen Mine, and was still working there in 1841, at the age of 58. At the time of the 1851 Census, he was recorded as a ‘Copper Miner at Camborne’. He was then living at Treskerby, Gwennap, about three miles from Redruth, where he died ten years later on the 8 November 1861, aged 78.
The story of Richard Perry’s life and medal, and a detailed account of the expedition to end Christian slavery in Algiers in 1816, was described in Gunfire in Barbary, by Roger Perkins and the late Captain KJ Douglas-Morris RN in 1982. Together with full research including a copy of this book.