Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (5 July 2011)

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Date of Auction: 5th July 2011

Sold for £900

Estimate: £600 - £800

Pair: Lieutenant and Fort Major Thomas Austin, 35th Foot

Coronation 1821, silver (Thos. Austin, Lieut. & Ft. Major 35th Foot) privately engraved, clip and ring suspension; Prussia, War Commemorative Medal 1813, bronze, with usual edge inscription, first with slight edge bruise and contact marks, good very fine (2) £600-800


These medals formed part of the Coronation Year Military Historical Society Exhibition entitled, ‘Medals and Decorations of the Austin Family 1801-1948’ - twelve groups of medals were displayed.

Thomas Austin, known in later life as ‘Old Stick Leg’, was born on 18 December 1794, the son of John and Mary Ann Austin. He was appointed an Ensign in the Western Regiment of Militia, County of Middlesex, on 17 October 1809, aged 14/15 years, and was advanced to Lieutenant on 2 May 1810. He was appointed an Ensign in the 35th (Sussex) Foot on 17 May 1810 and advanced to Lieutenant without purchase on 6 December 1813. Austin served in the Expedition to Holland 1813-14. He was severely wounded - his left leg being taken off by a cannon ball, on 13 January 1814 during an attack on the village of Merxem.

Lord Lynedoch, in a letter to Horse Guards in support of Austin, wrote: ‘I can recommend Lieut. and Fort Major Austin as a most zealous and intelligent officer, who, on the 13th January 1814, at the attack on the village of Merxem with a detachment of Light Infantry, gallantly repulsed and drove back a party of the enemy who had nearly surrounded His Royal Highness The Duke of Clarence, the Duke having in the excitement of the action advanced with skirmishers in front of our main line of attack, subsequently, this Lieut. Austin received three severe wounds.’

Austin served as Lieutenant in the 5th Veterans Battalion, May 1815-May 1816 and 2nd Veterans Battalion, November 1819-July 1820. Was appointed Fort Major at Duncannon Fort on 27 July 1820, a position he held until 1870 when he retired.

Retiring to Bristol ‘Old Stick-Leg’ became a well known local figure and took an interest in geology and writing. He died in Bristol on 25 March 1881, aged 86 years, and was buried at Arno’s Vale Cemetery. His Geological Collection, uniform and accoutrements were presented to the Bristol Museum in 1917 by one of his grandsons.

Sold with the book “Old Stick-Leg”, Extracts from the Diaries of Major Thomas Austin, arranged by Brigadier-General H. H. Austin, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., first published in 1926, 206pp., with b/w plates. Also with copied research.