Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria to coincide with the OMRS Convention (20 September 2002)

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Date of Auction: 20th September 2002

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

The fine Small Army Gold Medal and Waterloo C.B. group of three awarded to Colonel James Hawker, Royal Artillery

The Most Honourable Order of The Bath, C.B. (Military) breast badge in 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1818, complete with wide swivel-ring bar suspension and gold ribbon buckle, contained in its original red leather case of issue, enamel chipped on one obverse and two reverse arms and on both wreaths; Field Officer’s Gold Medal 1808-14, for Albuhera (Major Jas. Hawker, Rl. Arty.) complete with gold ribbon buckle and contained in its original red leather case of issue; Waterloo 1815 (Lieut. Col., Royal Field Artillery) fitted with contemporary silver ring and bar suspension and gold ribbon buckle, contact marks to the last, otherwise generally very fine or better (3) £6000-8000


See colour illustration on front cover.

James Hawker was born in about September 1773, eldest son of Captain James Hawker, R.N., who died in 1787 leaving a family of three sons and five daughters. The youngest son, Edward, died as an Admiral in 1860 having received the N.G.S. medal for Guadaloupe (vide DNW sale 28 March 2002, Lot 170).

Hawker was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was appointed a Gentleman Cadet on 25 August 1788. He was granted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 18 September 1793, and promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 January 1794. Hawker served as a Lieutenant in “A” Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, during 1795 and 1796 at Weyburn Camp and at Woolwich; and in “B” Troop, R.H.A., in 1797. He was promoted to Captain-Lieutenant on 16 July 1799, and served in “G” Troop, R.H.A., in 1802 at Woolwich.

On his promotion to Captain on 12 September 1803, Hawker gained his Company, R.A., in 8 Battalion, which battalion was raised on the authority of a Royal Warrant dated 1 September 1803. His Company was raised at Woolwich on 13 September, but he did not join it as he exchanged companies with Captain W. Scott in 4 Battalion. The latter Company in 4 Battalion, Hawker then commanded for over eight years, initially at Leith Fort, and then at Haddington in 1804-05. In October 1806 Hawker embarked with his Company at Plymouth on the Transport Bellona, bound ultimately for South America via Porto Praia, Cape Verde Islands, where it arrived in December 1806. It sailed from Porto Praia on 11 January 1807, arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on 23 March, and at St Helena on 21 April. Sailing again on the 26th, the Company arrived at Montevideo on 14 June 1807 and took part in the attack on Buenos Ayres in June and July 1807. Hawker’s Company formed part of the force of Colonel Robert Crauford, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General J. Whitelocke, and in the attack which took place on 5 July his Company was in the 2nd Brigade. Hawker was mentioned favourably by Captain Augustus Frazer, Commanding R.A., in a letter dated 21 June 1807 to the Deputy Adjutant General, R.A.

Hawker returned to England in February 1808 and remained with his Company at Woolwich and Exeter until embarking for Portugal in September 1810 on the Transport Eliza. Arriving at Lisbon on 19 October, Hawker then took part in the campaign in the Peninsula. He was present at the first siege of Badajoz in April and May 1811, and was slightly wounded at the battle of Albuhera on 16 May 1811. For his services at Albuhera, where his Company consisted of four 9-pounders which ‘did great execution’, Hawker was awarded the Small Army Gold Medal as notified in the London Gazette of 13 September 1814.

Captain Hawker was promoted Brevet Major on 4 June 1811, and was mentioned in Hill’s dispatch, dated Merida, 30 December 1811, regarding the action at La Nava on 27 December: ‘the enemy retired... and he effected his retreat with the loss of about 20 killed, and as many wounded, from four nine-pounders, which, by the great exertion of Major Hawker and his officers and men, got within range, and followed him for some distance.’ Hawker’s Company was present at Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812 but, at the beginning of March, he exchanged Company with Captain S. Maxwell of 9 Battalion, and returned home. His new Company was then at Canterbury, where it remained until December 1813 when it embarked at Deal aboard H.M.S. Ulysses, bound for the Netherlands. During 1814 his Company mustered at Klundert, Groot Zundal, Stabroek, Schilde, and at Antwerp, where it remained from the beginning of June.

Promoted to Major in the 4th Battalion on 20 December 1814, he was further promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, in the 2nd Battalion, on 16 May 1815. Hawker served in the Waterloo campaign in 1815, in command of the artillery in Colville’s 4th Division which formed the reserve at Hal on 18 June, and was not present at the battle of Waterloo. It subsequently took part at the siege of Cambray, which was carried on 25 June, Hawker’s artillery driving the French from guns and rampart so ‘as to cause a most trifling loss to our infantry when they stormed the place.’ Sir Charles Colville, in his dispatch to the Duke of Wellington, said that the three brigades of artillery under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Hawker ‘made particularly good practise.’

Lieutenant-Colonel Hawker was appointed a Companion of the Bath, this honour being notified in the London Gazette of 24 October 1818. Hawker was subsequently Commanding R.A. in the Western District at Plymouth and, in January 1824, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Gravesend and Tilbury Fort, which appointment he held until his death. He was promoted to Colonel, R.A., on 29 July 1825, and died at Woolwich on 12 October 1827, aged about 54. He was buried in the Churchyard of St Nicholas’s Church, Plumstead, and is now commemorated on a marble Memorial tablet in St George’s Garrison Church at Woolwich.