The John Goddard Collection of Important Naval Medals and Nelson Letters (24 November 2015)

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Date of Auction: 24th November 2015

Sold for £50,000

Estimate: £24,000 - £28,000

Yeoman of the Powder Room Richard Levertine, whose medal is one of just five issued with 6 clasps and represents an outstanding naval career including the great victories of the Glorious First of June, Camperdown, Copenhagen and Trafalgar, besides the gallant lesser-known actions of the frigate Anson, whose gallant Captain Charles Lydiard perished when the ship was wrecked in December 1807

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 6 clasps, 1 June 1794 [538], Camperdown [298], Copenhagen 1801 [548], Trafalgar [1611], Anson 23 Augt 1806 [6], Curacoa [62] (Richard Levertine A.B.) “tine’ and “A.B.” corrected, with good original ribbon sewn with button-hole for wearing, nearly extremely fine £24000-28000

Footnote

Provenance: Spink in association with Christie’s, September 1993. Previously for many years held in the stock of a firm called Flemings, of Southsea, near Portsmouth, which went into receivership earlier in 1993.

1 June 1794 [538 issued] - including 13 to Orion.

Camperdown [298 issued] - including 19 to Veteran.

Copenhagen 1801 [548 issued] - including 19 to Veteran, Richard ‘Leverton’ being verified aboard.

Trafalgar [1611 issued] - including 51 to Temeraire.

Anson 23 Augt 1806 [6 issued] - James Burke, Ord (Known); Christopher Coucher, L.M. (Honeyman Collection, Huntington Library, U.S.A.); Stephen Coward, Pte. R.M.; Robert Henley, Quarter Gunner (Known); William Jeffery, Coxswain; Thomas B. Sullivan, Lieutenant R.N. (Royal Naval Museum). To this number must be added Richard ‘Liverton’ or ‘Libertine’ who is verified aboard but not shown on the Admiralty roll.

Curacoa [62 issued] - including 13 to Anson.

Richard Levertine served as Able Seaman aboard Orion at the ‘Glorious First of June’ and aboard Veteran at Camperdown and Copenhagen. He was a Gunner’s Mate aboard Temeraire at Trafalgar, and Yeoman of the Powder Room aboard Anson at the capture of the Spanish frigate Pomona in August 1806 and at the capture of Curacoa in January 1807. This fully verified medal brings to five the number of 6-clasp medals issued.

The research and verification of Richard Levertine’s medal by the professional researcher Gillian Hughes was the subject of a detailed article published in the Summer 1995 journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society and is largely quoted here:

‘I was recently asked to research the service career of a man who received a Naval General Service medal with six clasps, and prove his entitlement to those clasps. Five of the clasps were listed in the Naval General Service Medal Roll 1793-1840 by Captain Douglas-Morris, namely 1 June 1794, Camperdown, Trafalgar, Anson 23 Augt 1806, and Curacoa, though for the Anson clasp the recipient was ‘verified aboard but not on roll’. My researches at the Public Record Office [now The National Archives] would seem not only to confirm his entitlement to those five clasps, but also to prove that he was ‘verified aboard but not on roll’ for the sixth clasp, namely Copenhagen 1801, and thus also entitled to that clasp.

The medal is named to Richard Levertine, with the last letters of the surname altered (as described in Spink’s auction catalogue, September 1993). This man appears variously on pay and muster books, allotment and remittance registers in the Public Record Office as Liverton, Leverton, Liberton, Lebertin, Libertine and Liberting. It is perhaps not surprising that the naming of the medal with which he was issued by the authorities needed to be altered.

His service with the Royal Navy began on 8 September 1791 when he entered the 74-gun ship H.M.S. Orion, Captain Duckworth. As number 50 on the ship’s pay books Richard Liverton, rated Able Seaman, was described as from Newton Bushel, aged 21. It would appear from this date of entry and those of subsequent ships in which he served that he was born in about 1770, though his death certificate would suggest an earlier date. Whilst serving in Orion he made a will in favour of his daughter, Sarah, in February 1794. After a period in the West Indies, Orion returned to Plymouth in November. She was part of the Channel fleet, in harbour at the end of 1793 and the beginning of 1794, but ready to put to sea. She took part in the action ‘The Glorious First of June’.

When Captain Duckworth was given command of H.M.S. Leviathan, another 74-gun ship, most of the ship’s company including Richard Liverton followed their captain, entering that ship on 19 March 1795. The ship was employed in the West Indies and returned to Plymouth in 1797. An extract from the Captain’s log for 16 May reads: ‘The ship’s company cheered as did the other ships and appeared to be in a mutinous state’. On the 18th the ship’s company took command of the ship from the officers and dismissed the captain, his fourth lieutenant, the purser, boatswain and three petty officers. On 22 May the log book records that the men were variously employed, but ‘under no command’. It seems likely that Duckworth returned on the 23rd or soon after.

The log noted those courts martial that took place and the punishments that followed. Much has been written about the Spithead and Nore mutinies at this time, but little of the mutiny at Plymouth. The Leviathan’s log gives a brief outline.

On 28 June 1797 the ship’s company was drafted into the 64-gun ship H.M.S. Veteran, Captain George Gregory. She took part in the battle of Camperdown on 11 October 1797. Captain James R. Mosse took command in April 1798, followed in April 1799 by Captain Archibald C. Dickson. The ship’s muster books, covering the period 1800 to the time when she was paid off in May 1802, indicate that Richard Leverton was victualled throughout the months from March to July 1801 when H.M.S. Veteran was in Elsineur Roads, Copenhagen Roads, Kroge Bay and Rostock. He therefore must have been present at the time of the battle of Copenhagen. Amongst the supernumeraries in the muster are listed numerous Danish prisoners taken in April 1801 in Copenhagen Roads.

The pay books of H.M.S. Veteran led to some interesting personal information concerning Richard Liverton. He made an allotment of his pay on 21 May 1797 (an Act of Parliament introduced this system in 1795). The allotment registers show that an allotment of pay was made to his wife Mary at Stoke Damerel by the Clerk of the Cheque at Plymouth. Four payments were made amounting to £25 4s 0d. On 16 May 1800 the allotment ceased due to ‘wife’s improper conduct’.

From May 1802 when Veteran was paid off, we lose sight of our seaman until a Richard Libertine’s entry into the 98-gun ship H.M.S. Temeraire, Captain Eliab Harvey, on 22 February 1804. He was number 447 on the Temeraire’s books, born Chudleigh, aged 34, rated A.B. until 1 March 1804 when promoted to Gunner’s Mate. Again he allotted his pay, on 1 April 1805, but the allotment papers do not give the wife’s name. The Temeraire suffered heavy casualties at the battle of Trafalgar, according to Laird Clowes: 47 killed in action and 76 wounded. On 5 December Captain Harvey was succeeded by Captain J. Larmour and the ship was paid off on 15 January 1806.

Richard Libertine was discharged a few days earlier on 11 January 1806 with many others of the Temeraire’s company into the 64-gun ship H.M.S. Anson, Captain Lydiard, complement 310 men. He was number 133 on the ship’s books, born in Hannock [probably Hennock], Devon, aged 35 and rated Yeoman of the Powder Room. He allotted his pay on 28 February 1806 to his nameless wife. On 23 August 1806 Anson and Arethusa captured the Pomona under the guns of Morro Castle, Havana, and destroyed nine gunboats and drove three others ashore.

The capture of Curacoa was a dashing affair by Captain Charles Lydiard of the Anson, with Arethusa, Fisgard and Latona on 1 January 1807. The ship’s muster books show that Captain Lydiard left the ship on 14 January to return to England with despatches and that a number of prisoners of war were taken on board at Kingston, Jamaica in May 1807 and later discharged to the Mill Prison at Plymouth on 18 July.

Also noted is that Anson was wrecked on 29 December 1807. After sailing from Falmouth to resume her station off Brest, she was attempting to return to port in a gale when she was driven on to a lee shore off Helston in St Mount’s Bay. Unable to beat off shore, she anchored in 25 fathoms with two cables out on the best bower anchor and rode out a tremendous sea overnight. At 04.00 on the 29th her cable parted and she re-anchored with a further two cables on the small bower anchor. Four hours later this also parted and the ship ran onto the sands about two miles from Helston to save the crew, the ship going to pieces within six hours. Many of the crew were lost at the time of the wreck, including Captain Lydiard. The pay book lists over 100 of the ship’s company discharged dead.

Richard Libertine then entered the 18-gun sloop Ranger, Captain George Acklom, complement 121 men, on 2 January 1808, though he appeared on board on the 18th. He is noted here as Richard Libertine, alias Leverton, which is a connecting link with his service during the Revolutionary War. He was number 70 on the ship’s books, of Devonshire, aged 37, rated Yeoman of the Powder Room to 19 January 1808, then rated Gunner’s Mate. Fifteen other Anson men were drafted to the Ranger. This voyage was not without interest. On 22 and 23 February 1809 an entry in the Captain’s log noted that the ship’s company took off the men of H.M.S. Proselyte, Captain J. H. Lyford, from Anholt. The ship had become set in the ice in the Baltic in December and was carried on to Anholt reef. Her ship’s company was forced to abandon her.

Shortly after this incident Richard Libertine was discharged to the Gorgon hospital ship, 18 April 1809, though he actually appeared on the Gorgon’s January muster list, his ‘hurt’ described as ‘hemorrhage’. He was discharged on 3 April 1809 to the Sussex hospital ship. This latter ship was at Sheerness, Surgeon Dr Richard Kent. The muster list for April gave similar information to the Gorgon, with an entry date of 2 April and a discharge date of 10 May ‘invalided’.

From Douglas-Morris’s roll we know that Richard Leverton/Libertine was in receipt of a Greenwich Hospital pension and was listed as one of those In-Pensioners who applied for the Naval General Service medal. He was granted an Out-Pension of £14 per annum due to ‘infirmity’ on 7 June 1809, with 17 years 3 months service. Seven and a half years later, as an Out-Pensioner he applied for admission as an In-Pensioner. His first application was on 19 December 1816, and he applied at least every month, sometimes more frequently, until he was finally admitted on 18 September 1817. According to the Greenwich Hospital Entry Book of Pensioners for that period he was listed as Rd. Libertine and described as aged 57, married with two boys, his last residence Deptford. Under the heading ‘If wounded’ was ‘Collar bone broken and blood vessel’. The number of years in the King’s service was 19 (possibly a clerical error). Unfortunately details of his service were not found in the series of admission papers to Greenwich Hospital, where he died on 25 February 1851.’

Sold with comprehensive research including copies of the source material located by Gillian Hughes.