Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (8 December 2016)

Date of Auction: 8th December 2016

Sold for £28,000

Estimate: £24,000 - £28,000

An outstanding Napoleonic Wars group of four awarded to General Sir Henry King, C.B., K.C.H., K.C., Colonel of the 3rd Foot (The Buffs), late 26th Light Dragoons, who, despite losing his right leg whilst on campaign in Egypt, commanded the 82nd Foot with distinction at the battle of Vittoria

The Royal Guelphic Order, K.C.H. (Military) Knight Commander’s breast star by Storr & Mortimer, London, silver, gold and enamels, reverse plate with maker’s name, fitted with gold pin for wearing, central legend lacking two quatrefoil devices with partial loss to letter ‘C’ of ‘Nec’ and first ‘T’ of ‘Terrent’; Field Officer’s Gold Medal 1808-14, for Vittoria (Lieut. Colonel Henry King) complete with gold ribbon buckle; Military General Service 1793-1814, 1 clasp, Egypt (Sir H. King, K.C.H. Capt. 26th L. Dgns.); Imperial Ottoman Order of the Crescent, K.C., 2nd class breast badge, gold and enamel, of very superior private manufacture, circa 1815, contained within a glazed gold band and fitted with gold swivel suspension as for the Field Officers’ Gold Medal and gold ribbon buckle, original ribbons, the first with enamel chips to wreath, the last with repaired enamel, otherwise generally extremely fine and very rare (4) £24000-28000


Henry King was born in 1778 and was first appointed as a Cornet into the 24th Light Dragoons on 25 March 1794; Lieutenant, 26th Light Dragoons, 12 August 1795; Captain, 26th Light Dragoons, 3 May 1800, which regiment became the 23rd Light Dragoons in 1803; exchanged to 98th Regiment, 7 August 1806; Major, Sicilian Regiment, 5 February 1807; exchanged to 82nd Regiment, 30 April 1807; Lieutenant-Colonel, 82nd Regiment, 4 June 1813; placed on half pay of it, 25 February 1816; brevet Colonel, 27 May 1825.

In 1797 Lieutenant King embarked with the 26th Light Dragoons for the West Indies, in the expedition under Sir Ralph Abercromby, and served there for two years; he was present in the attack of Porto Rico, and at the capture of the island of Trinidad. Whilst quartered at Marin, to windward of the island of Martinique, he was ordered in a small Island vessel to St Piers, with a detachment of twenty-six men, to form the guard of the Governor, Sir William Keppel; and, on proceeding to this destination, fell in with a French privateer, off the Diamond Rock, mounting four long nine-pounders, with seventy men on board, which, after a sharp action of twenty minutes, he beat off, having one man killed, and himself wounded in the shoulder: it was afterwards ascertained that the enemy’s loss consisted of ten men killed and fifteen wounded. On arriving at Port Royal, he received for this action, the thanks of the then Commander of the Forces, General Cuyler, and of the Admiral, Sir Edward Harvey.

On his return to Europe, he served two years in Portugal, from whence he proceeded with the expedition to Egypt and served in the campaign of 1801, including the action at the landing at Aboukir Bay, siege of the castle, and actions of the 21st March and 9th May at Rahmanie, at which latter he commanded a squadron of the 26th Light Dragoons, and lost his right leg: ‘On the artillery unlimbering, the French opened from several guns such a fire as to force the cavalry to take ground to the right, the first shot having carried off Captain King’s leg, and killed three horses, the second also had struck in the squadron.’ (Wilson’s History of the Expedition to Egypt refers).

After this King served as Major of the 82nd Regiment in the expedition to Walcheren and the siege of Flushing in 1809. He next accompanied the regiment to Gibraltar, and soon after his arrival, was appointed Commandant at Tarifa, where he was not only present at the memorable defence of that important post, but was chiefly instrumental (by his strong representations to General Campbell, to oblige Colonel Skerrett to hold out) in preserving it: he presented to the Council of War a written protest against the abandonment of the place. He was affectionately known to the Spaniards of Tarifa as the Commandante Cojo (lame), from having lost his leg.

In the beginning of 1812, he embarked with his regiment at Gibraltar, and joined the Duke of Wellington’s army a few days after the action of Salamanca. Colonel Grant having been given command of the brigade, King commanded the 82nd in the battle of Vittoria, and during that action, received an order from the Duke of Wellington to carry with the 82nd Regiment a village from whence the enemy, with fifteen pieces of artillery, greatly annoyed the advance of the British army. This manoeuvre he executed with promptitude, forcing the enemy, after giving his regiment six rounds, to abandon it. Towards the close of the battle, the command of the brigade devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel King, Colonel Grant having been wounded, which he continued to hold for a considerable time, and until the appointment of Lord Aylmer.

In July 1813, Lieutenant-Colonel King was ordered to proceed to England, to take command of the 2nd battalion. In 1815 he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Heligoland, a position he administered for more than twenty-five years until September 1840. He was made a Companion of the Bath in 1831, and was knighted in 1834; Major-General, 10 January 1837; appointed Colonel of the 3rd Foot, 18 March 1845; Lieutenant-General, 9 November 1846; General, 20 June 1854; he died in Sussex Place, Hyde Park Gardens, on 24 July 1854, aged 76.