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 £28,000

Estimate: £14,000 - £16,000

Boatswain Edward Wise, who served as an Able Seaman on board Nelson’s flagship Victory at the battle of Trafalgar, and afterwards as Boatswain of the Spartan in her memorable action with a Franco-Neapolitan squadron in the bay of Naples

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Trafalgar [1611], Spartan 3 May 1810 [30] (Edward Wise) with good length of original ribbon, lightly toned, extremely fine £14000-16000


Provenance: Ex Ron Barden Collection.

Trafalgar [1611 issued] - including 18 officers and 104 men on board Nelson’s flagship Victory.

Spartan 3 May 1810 [30 issued] - 13 medals known, including 8 officers, with examples in the National Maritime Museum; Royal Naval Museum; and the Patiala Collection (Sheesh Mahal Museum, India). Unique in combination with Trafalgar.

Edward Wise was born at Whitstable, Kent, and first appears on board the Eurydice as an Able Seaman, aged 25 years, on 5 October 1803. He was promoted to Quarter Gunner on 11 October, and to Yeoman of the Sheets on 10 April 1804. On 13 October 1805, he joined the Victory, Captain Thomas M. Hardy, as an Able Seaman and in that capacity fought at the battle of Trafalgar shortly afterwards. He was discharged to Ocean in January 1806, and was promoted to Boatswain’s Mate on 8 November, but was discharged the following day, as Boatswain, to the Pylades. The remainder of his naval service was as a Boatswain, joining Spartan in October 1808; Africa, January 1812; Barham, October 1813; Rochfort, May 1820; on books of Portsmouth Ordinary from 21 April to 3 October, 1821, when appointed to Britannia. Edward Wise completed his service on the books of Chatham Ordinary from 29 December 1831 to 2 December 1838, and later at Portsmouth Dockyard. He died at Portsea on 6 April 1854, his Death Certificate giving his age as 71 years and his occupation as Boatswain, Portsmouth Dockyard. Sold with copied muster lists and record of service.

Spartan’s action with the Franco-Neapolitan squadron in the Bay of Naples

In October 1809 the Spartan was part of the force engaged in the reduction of the Ionian Isles, and in May 1810, whilst cruising in company with the Success, of 32 guns, and the Espoir brig, chased a small French squadron into Naples. This consisted of the Ceres frigate of the same force as the Spartan, though with about one-fourth more men, the Fama frigate of 28 guns, a brig, a cutter, and seven gunboats. Captain Jahleel Brenton, of the Spartan, feeling certain that the French ships would not come out in the face of two frigates, despatched the Success to the southward, and on the morning of 3 May stood back towards Naples, hoping to tempt the enemy to come out. They had anticipated his wish, and having taken on board some 400 soldiers, in addition to their already large complements, met the Spartan in the very entrance of the bay, about midway between Ischia and Capri. The action that ensued was extremely bloody, for the Spartan's broadsides told with terrible effect on the crowded decks of the Ceres and her consorts, while on the other hand the heavy fire of the gunboats inflicted severe loss on the Spartan. Brenton himself was badly wounded in the hip by a grapeshot, and during the latter part of the fight the Spartan was commanded by her first-lieutenant, Willes. The brig was captured, but, the Spartan's rigging being much cut, the Ceres and Fama succeeded in getting under some batteries in Baia Bay. For his gallant and skilful conduct of the action Willes was deservedly promoted; and Captain Brenton's bravery, his tactical skill, and the severity of his wound won for him sympathy and admiration which forgot to remark on his mistaken judgement in sending the Success away mistaken, for the resolve of the enemy to come out was formed quite independently of the Success's absence. The Patriotic Fund at Lloyd's voted him a sword, value one hundred guineas; the king of the Two Sicilies presented him with the Grand Cross of St. Ferdinand; he was made a baronet in November 1812, and a K.C.B. in January 1815.