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 £34,000

Estimate: £18,000 - £22,000

Rear-Admiral David Scott, R.N., K.T.S., Master’s Mate of the Unicorn at the capture, in consort with the Santa Margaritta, of two French frigates in June 1796, and afterwards Lieutenant in the Bellerophon at Trafalgar where he was wounded in the head; as First Lieutenant of the Bedford he later escorted the Portuguese Royal Family to Brazil and, in consequence, became ‘the first British subject upon whom the Cross of the Tower and Sword was ever conferred’

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Unicorn 8 June 1796 [4], Trafalgar [1611] (D. Scott, Lieut.); Military Order of the Tower and Sword, Knight’s badge in gold with hinged loop suspension; together with a related Epaulette for the rank of a Secretary to a Junior Flag Officer, with silver anchor and crown fitments, very good condition for age, one point slightly bent on the second, otherwise good very fine (3) £18000-22000


Provenance: Spink, November 1999.

Unicorn 8 June 1796 [4 issued] - Charles J. Austen, Midshipman (Known); William Dexter, Ord (National Maritime Museum but removed from display with suspect clasp); John Green, Private R.M.; James Mather, Surgeon’s Mate. To this number must now be added David Scott, Master’s Mate.

Trafalgar [1611 issued] - including 6 officers and 50 men of the Bellerophon.

David Scott is confirmed on the published rolls for Trafalgar as a Lieutenant aboard the Bellerophon. His presence aboard the Unicorn is officially confirmed on the ship’s muster roll for the period June 1796 (ADM 36/13195) and he is further confirmed in the New Navy List for 1852 as being in receipt of a Medal with 2 clasps.

David Scott entered the Navy as a Volunteer in 1793 and went directly to the West Indies in the Goelan 14, where he served on shore at the reduction of St Domingo, and was ‘severely wounded in the head at Tiburon’. On his return to England in 1794 he was promoted Master's Mate in the Daedalus 32, commanded by Captain Thomas Williams. In the early part of 1795 the Daedalus sailed in charge of a convoy of Transports laden with supplies for the Army retreating through Holland. Impeded by wind and ice, two months elapsed before the coast was made, and then, a pilot not being at hand, Mr. Scott was sent in a Hired Cutter with Despatches for the Commander-in-Chief of the Army at Emden. These he succeeded in delivering, although exposed, on his way up the Ems, to a heavy fire from the French at Delfzyl. The pilots whom he brought back with him contriving to run the Frigate aground, Mr. Scott took personal charge of the convoy, conducted it in safety to its destination, and remained for its protection until the Daedalus, nearly a week afterwards, got in. For this service he received the thanks of his Captain and of Sir Home Popham, who at the time was attached to the Army.

Unicorn captures La Tribune after a running fight lasting over 10 hours

A valued member of his Captain's team, Scott next followed Williams into the Unicorn 32, which on 8 June 1796, when cruising in company with the Santa Margarita 36, Captain T. Byam Martin, off the Isles of Scilly, encountered the French frigates Tamise and Tribune and the corvette Legere. The French ran, the British pursued and after a charge of 14 hours came under a destructive fire from the enemy's stern-chasers. At 4 p.m. the Tamise bore round to engage the Santa Margarita but after only 20 minutes fight was forced to strike her Colours with 32 of her company killed. Seeing the fate of her companion, the Tribune crowded sail to effect her escape from the Unicorn which for the next ten hours engaged her in a running fight. The tenacious Unicorn, however, suffered more severely at first, sustaining much damage in her sails and rigging and at one time being deprived of the use of her main-topsail. Soon after dark the wind fell and Unicorn was able to make good use of her light sails. Little by little she stole up on the Tribune's weather quarter and, having taken the wind out of the Frenchman's sails, ranged up alongside her antagonist, having chased her 210 miles.

It was now 10.30 p.m. and the British crew instantly gave three cheers before commencing a close action which lasted some 35 minutes. When the smoke cleared, Tribune was seen to the rear and attempting, close hauled, to cross the Unicorn's stern and gain her wind. To frustrate this manoeuvre, the sails of the Unicorn, in the most masterly manner, were thrown aback: she then dropped astern, passed the Tribune's weather bow, regained her station, and renewed the attack. A few well-directed broadsides brought down the fore and main masts and mizzen topmast of the Tribune, and not only put an end to all further manoeuvring on the part of the French frigate but silenced her fire and compelled her to surrender. Enemy casualties amounted to 37 killed, and their commander and 14 wounded for no loss at all on the British side. On the return to port, Williams was knighted for his prize, the Tribune, which was added to the Royal Navy under the same name. Moreover it is recorded that throughout Scott's association with Captain Williams, he was entrusted with his most valuable prizes, and furthermore never lost a man when so employed.

In 1797 Scott, as Acting Lieutenant, went with Captain Williams into the Endymion 40, and on 13 October was present in an action fought against the Brutus 74, which, bearing the Flag of Rear-Admiral Bloys, had been engaged two days earlier at the battle of Camperdown. Soon afterwards the Endymion fell in with the Jupiter 74, a prize taken during Admiral Duncan's victory, which at that time was in danger of foundering. Scott was sent on board to render assistance, and by rigging jury-masts, carried her safe into the Humber. In 1798 whilst again engaged in repairs at sea he was severely injured when clearing away a mizzenmast.

In 1800 he joined the Arethusa 38, served in the Channel, convoyed East Indiamen from St. Helena, and brought home Brigadier-General Clinton from Madeira. In 1803 he became the senior Lieutenant of the Circe 29, which on 16 November 1803 was wrecked on the Lemon and Ower in the North Sea whilst in pursuit of the enemy. After the Court Martial which exonerated Scott from all blame, he was told by the president that several members of the court were 'desirous of applying for him'. Ill health, however, kept him from immediate service though he was not permitted to go on half-pay. Lord St. Vincent, who knew a valuable officer when he saw one, had him attached instead for the recovery of his health to the Sea Fencibles at Cardigan on the understanding that his name was to be included in the first batch of promotions. This promise, however, was not fulfilled.

Bellerophon at Trafalgar

On 9 October 1804, he joined the Bellerophon 74, in which he was to fight at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. When Nelson made his 'England expects ...' signal, Bellerophon's Captain, John Cooke, visited the lower decks and gave the men the Admiral's message. Their reply was to chalk the words ‘Bellerophon; death or glory’ on their guns. Fifth in the Lee Column, the Bellerophon [or Billy Ruffian as the Bluejackets had it] cut the enemy line at approximately 12.35 p.m. and engaged Captain Don. T. Argumosa's 74, the Monarca, which had previously struck, but having not been taken possession of, had re-hoisted her Colours. Bellerophon intended passing under the Monarca's stern, raking her as she went, and then lie alongside, but she fouled the Aigle 74 and became entangled. Bellerophon was thus under fire on the port side from the Monarca, and on the starboard side from the Aigle. By 1 p.m. she had lost her main and mizzen topmasts, and shortly after that Captain Cooke, marked out by his epaulettes, was shot dead from the enemy tops. Three times the Aigle attempted to board but was held off, and she fell astern of Bellerophon who raked her with as much fire as could be mustered. The Revenge then came up in support and blasted the Aigle once more, whilst Bellerophon, though ‘badly injured in the lower yards’ and with ‘her hull torn to pieces’, managed to send a boarding party over to the Monarca which once more had lowered her Colours. Scott, meantime, had been added to the list of Bellerophon's 150 killed and wounded, with a splinter wound in the head. Collingwood’s Flag Captain, Edward Rotheram, took command vice Cooke and in company with Belleisle, Bellerophon escorted the Victory with the body of Nelson to England.

In consequence of wounds received at Trafalgar, Scott was obliged to remain on shore from April 1806. In October 1807 he was appointed First Lieutenant of the Bedford 74, which in November of that same year escorted the Portuguese Royal Family in its sudden flight to Brazil. In consequence of his services to Prince John and the Royal House of Braganza, Scott became, to quote O’Byrne, ‘the first British subject upon whom the Cross of the Tower and Sword was ever conferred’. On the Brazilian Coast in 1808 he was again accidentally injured, this time nearly losing one of his legs after the strop on a leading block gave way. He was thus forced to return to England, and, as a mark of the esteem in which he was held, was especially entrusted to carry with him the Despatches of both the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Sydney Smith, and the British Ambassador, Lord Strangford.

In 1809 he was appointed Flag Lieutenant to the Naval Commander of the abortive Walcheren Expedition, Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, in the Venerable and Pallas. In the latter ship Scott was given sole charge of getting the huge flotilla of troop transports into the Scheldt. This, in common with the many other varied duties he was called on to perform at that time, was carried out to a high standard of professionalism sadly lacking in the higher command. On the fall of Flushing he was appointed First Lieutenant of Strachan's flagship, the San Domingo. Promoted Commander on 2 August 1811, he received the command of the Morgiana 18, protecting trade on the North American Coast, and lost not one ship of the many convoys he escorted. There were frequent encounters with American vessels and once he was chased all day by the superior U.S. frigate President which, when it came up, ‘was deterred’, as was expressed by her Commander to the Secretary of the U.S. Navy, ‘from taking [the Morgiana] because he saw by her manoeuvres that she was trying to lead him into a scrape’. Not long afterwards the Morgiana came up with the American brigs-of-war Rattlesnake and Enterprise. After an hour's chase the U.S. vessels separated. Scott clung to the nearest, the Enterprise, and at sunset could see the Americans throwing everything overboard as they were convinced that the Morgiana would be alongside within the hour. However, a sudden thunderstorm came up obliging Scott to take in every stitch of canvas, and, whilst cursing the ill luck which enabled the Americans to escape, his ship was hit by a bolt of lightening which shattered the mainmast and temporarily blinded many on deck. Scott himself was struck down and for more than an hour lay insensible.

On 22 October 1814, he was finally Posted, becoming Captain and being appointed to the Centurion 50, the flagship of Rear-Admiral Griffith, at Halifax. He returned to England in April 1815 and, being unable to procure further employment, was induced in 1846 to accept retirement. In 1850 he was advanced to Rear-Admiral and died two years later at Berryden House, Aberdeen, on 16 July 1852.