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 £22,000

Estimate: £12,000 - £14,000

Able Seaman William James Walker, a Boy of 13 years age at the battle of Camperdown, who later saw much action in the Baltic aboard the 18-gun brig Cruizer

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Camperdown [298], Cruizer 1 Novr 1808 [4] (W. J. Walker.) with original ribbon in its named card box of issue, extremely fine £12000-14000


Provenance: Glendining’s, March 1990.

Camperdown [298 issued] - including 14 to the Lancaster.

Cruizer 1 Novr 1808 [4 issued] - John Allen, Lieutenant; Francis W. Ellis, Midshipman (National Maritime Museum); James R. Forrest, Volunteer 1st Class (Royal Naval Museum); W. J. Walker, Ord.

William James Walker is variously shown in muster lists as W. J. Walker and James Walker, the latter seeming the name he preferred. He first appears as ‘W. J. Walker’, on the books of Lancaster from 29 April 1797, arriving on board on 15 July, as a Boy aged 13 years, and fought in this capacity at the battle of Camperdown on 11 October 1797. He was discharged to Terrible on 13 April 1799, age 14 years, born London, listed as Boy 2nd Class from 2 November 1800, until discharged to Cambridge on 25 October 1801, from whence he was discharged to Plymouth Yard on 14 November 1801. ‘James Walker’ first appears on the muster list for Cruizer on 10 January 1808, as an Ordinary Seaman, lent from Namur. A later muster table for Cruizer, for the period 1 January to 28 February 1810, gives his place of birth as London and shows his age on entry to the ship as 22 years. He was rated as an Able Seaman for the action of 1 November 1808. His name appears as James Walker in the Admiralty clasp application list for Camperdown, with a note ‘Borne as W. J. Walker’, and as W. J. Walker for Cruizer’s action, in both cases under the same reference number 54/4.

Cruizer in action with a Danish flotilla

The eighteen-gun brig Cruizer, Lieutenant Thomas Wells, on 1 November 1808, being off Gottenburg, met with a Danish flotilla of about twenty armed cutters, gun boats, luggers, and row boats. After a smart engagement Lieutenant Wells captured a schuyt, mounting ten four-pounders, with a crew of thirty-two men, and compelled the other vessels to run for shelter under a battery on the island of Lœsoe. For this action Lieutenant Wells was promoted to the rank of Commander.

H.M.S. Cruizer was a prototype brig-rigged sloop-of-war designed in 1796 by Sir William Rule, the Surveyor of the Navy. Built by Stephen Teague of Ipswich and launched in 1797, she was the first of a long line of Cruizer-class brig sloops. By 1815 a total of 105 other vessels had been ordered to her design. Cruizer saw much active service in the North Sea, was at Copenhagen in 1801, participated in the blockade of the Netherlands from 1803 to 1806, and was afterwards active in the Baltic. In the two years that Able Seaman Walker served aboard her, besides the action described above, Cruizer captured or shared in the capture of more than 30 vessels, mostly Danish, and the destruction of many others.