The Collection of Medals formed by Dr A W Stott (25 March 1997)

Date of Auction: 25th March 1997

Sold for £4,200

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,000

Military General Service 1793-1814, 4 clasps, Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, Pyrenees (Wm. Crokat, Lieut. 20th Foot) together with a three-quarter length portrait in pastels of Lieutenant General Crokat in uniform, 13” x 10” in glazed wooden frame, toned, good very fine


William Crokat was born near Edinburgh in 1788 and commissioned into the 20th Foot in April 1807. He served in Sicily that year and, in 1808, sailed with his regiment to Portugal. He was present at the Battle of Vimiera, the advance into Spain and the retreat from Corunna. In 1809 he took part in the Walcheren Expedition where he was disabled by fever, and subsequently returned to the Peninsula. He was wounded at the Battle of Vittoria on 21 June 1813, and again severely wounded in action in the Pyrenees. Crokat was one of two 20th Foot Officers sent to St Helena to attend on Napoleon during his exile. He witnessed the Emperor’s death on 5 May 1820 and was present at the post mortem conducted on the following day by Dr Shortt. He subsequently returned to England conveying home the despatches announcing the Emperors death, and was duly awarded his Majority on 5 July 1821.

The following announcement was published in the London Gazette of July 7th, 1821:

“Captain Crokat, of the 20th Regiment, arrived this day from St Helena, with a dispatch, addressed to the Earl Bathurst by Lieutenant General Sir Hudson Lowe, K.C.B., of which the following is a copy:

St Helena, May 6th, 1821.

My Lord,

It falls to my duty to inform your Lordship, that Napoleon Bonaparte expired at about ten minutes before six o’clock in the evening of the 5th instant, after an illness which had confined him to his apartments since the 17th of March last. He was attended during the early part of his indisposition, from the 17th to the 31st of March, by his own Medical Assistant, Professor Antommarchi, alone. During the latter period, from 1st April to the 5th May, he received the daily visits of Dr Arnott, of his Majesty’s 20th regiment, generally in conjunction with Professor Antommarchi.

Dr Arnott was with him at the moment of his decease, and saw him expire. Captain Crokat, Orderly Officer in attendance, and Doctors Shortt and Mitchell saw the body immediately afterwards.

I have entrusted this dispatch to Captain Crokat, of His Majesty’s 20th Regiment, who was the Orderly Officer in attendance upon the person of Napoleon Bonaparte at the time of his decease. He embarks on board of His Majesty’s Sloop Heron, which Rear-Admiral Lambert has detached from the squadron under his command, with the intelligence.”

Crokat served next in India until ill-health forced his retirement on half pay in November 1826. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, 10 January 1837; Colonel, 11 November 1851; Major General, 31 August 1855; Lieutenant General, 21 December 1862; and to General on 25 October 1871, receiving a special rate of £400 per Annum, Unattached Pay. After several years passed in Italy, General Crokat returned to Scotland, where he spent his last 35 years in shattered health and unobtrusive retirement, dying in Edinburgh on the 6th November 1879.

The lot is sold with two contemporary volumes:
‘Letters from Saint Helena’ by William Warden, 1816; and ‘Rosario’ A Tale by Napoleon Buonaparte, 1821, this bound with some other works.