Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (9 & 10 May 2018)

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Date of Auction: 9th & 10th May 2018

Sold for £34,000

Estimate: £26,000 - £30,000

An impressive Peninsula Wars C.B., K.H. group of four awarded to Lieutenant-General Robert Barclay Macpherson, 88th Foot

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1815, maker’s mark ‘IE’ for John Edwards, fitted with replacement gold wide suspension bar and gold ribbon buckle; The Royal Guelphic Order, K.H. (Military) Knight’s breast badge, gold and enamels, fitted with ring suspension and gold ribbon bar; Field Officer’s Gold Medal 1808-14, reverse Vittoria, 1 clasp, Orthes (Major R. B. M’Pherson) suspension neatly re-affixed with small additional gold reinforcing plate, complete with gold ribbon buckle; Military General Service 1793-1814, 3 clasps, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Toulouse (R. B. Macpherson, Majr. 88th Foot) good very fine or better (4)


Provenance: Purchased from Baldwin’s 1966.

C.B. London Gazette 4 June 1815.

K.H. 10 January 1835.

Robert Barclay Macpherson was born in about 1774, the son of Colonel D. Macpherson of Bleaton (north of Rattray in Glenshea) and Margaret, daughter of Ewan Macpherson of Cluny. He was a great-grandson of the eleventh Lord Lovat, who was executed for his part in the Jacobite rising of 1745. Macpherson was gazetted an Ensign in the 88th Foot on 3 June 1795, and promoted to Lieutenant on 22 July. His first active service was with a detachment of the regiment in the West Indies in 1795-96, where he was present at the taking of St Lucia in 1796, at the reduction of the Brigands in Grenada, at the storm of Port Royal, and at several other places in that island. The detachment returned to Cork in November 1796 and the regiment was at Portsmouth in April 1797 at the time of the Spithead Naval Mutiny. In 1798 it moved to Jersey but in December of that year it embarked at Portsmouth for Bombay, where it arrived in May 1799. Macpherson was promoted to Captain on 3 December 1800. The greater part of the regiment took part in the 1801 campaign in Egypt, afterwards returning directly to England. Macpherson, however, remained in India with two companies of the 88th, some of whom served with the 76th Foot, at that time engaged in the Second Mahratta War, including the battles of Allighur, Delhi, Laswarree, and Deig, but there is no record of troops from the 88th being involved. The detachment was brought home in 1804, rejoining the remainder of the regiment stationed in Sussex and Kent.

At the end of 1806 the 88th embarked on the ill-fated expedition to South America, arriving at Monte Video in June 1807. It formed part of Lumley’s Brigade, taking part in the several skirmishes on the march to and in front of Buenos Ayres, and at the storming of it on 5 July, when Macpherson was amongst those wounded. The entire expedition, after suffering heavy casualties, surrendered but were released shortly afterwards and in November 1807 the 88th Foot were safely back in Portsmouth. Macpherson was promoted Major on 17 March 1808 and was posted to 2nd Battalion 88th Foot, stationed in Connaught. In 1809 the battalion embarked at Cork for Lisbon but was diverted for garrison duties in Gibraltar. Lieutenant-Colonel J. A. Wallace was commanding the battalion but was transferred to the 1st Battalion, being relieved by Lieutenant-Colonel J. Taylor. Early in 1810 the 2nd Battalion was sent to Cadiz where operations were in progress against the French in Fort Matagorda. Afterwards the battalion was moved to Isle de Leon, where Macpherson assumed temporary command but was superseded by Taylor when it was transferred to Lisbon in August 1810.

In April 1813 Macpherson transferred back to the 1st Battalion and assumed acting command on 16 May, on which day the battalion left Portugal where it had been quartered. It now formed part of Brisbane’s Brigade of Picton’s Division of Graham’s force and took part in the battle of Vittoria on 21 June 1813, when 1 officer and 30 rank and file were killed and 4 officers and 197 rank and file were wounded. It also took part in the battles of the Pyrenees from 28 July to 2 August. Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor took command on 9 September and led the battalion through the battle of the Nivelle on 10 November. Taylor also commanded the battalion at the battle of Orthes on 27 February 1814, but having advanced at the head of his men up a difficult lane, on reaching the end they were met by a battery of 8-pounders and a regiment of French cavalry. Taylor was wounded, but the remainder ran up and opened a deadly fire upon the horsemen. At this point Macpherson galloped up and, putting himself at the head of the Connaught Rangers, drove the French column before him. Casualties in this battle were 3 officers and 41 rank and file killed and 11 officers and 214 rank and file wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor is thought to have recovered from his wounds in time to rejoin the regiment for the battle of Toulouse on 10 April 1814, in which the 88th had 86 killed or wounded. Hostilities having been suspended with the abdication of Napoleon, by the end of May the battalion was in camp at Blanquefort, near Bordeaux.

Macpherson was awarded a Brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel on 4 June 1814 and, once again in command of the battalion, embarked with it at the end of the month for Quebec, where forces were being gathered for the closing stages of the war against the United States. The battalion arrived in August and split, with some 300 men being left at Quebec and Fort William Henry, while the remainder took part in the battle of Plattsburg on 11 September. The battalion was reunited at Fort William Henry by the end of the month and there it spent the winter of 1814-15. In April 1815 it moved to St John’s on the south side of the St Lawrence River and it was noted that the 88th had no deserters, unlike many other regiments. The battalion returned to Europe in July 1815, landing at Ostend on the 21st having missed the battle of Waterloo. By the end of the August it was quartered at St Denis, Paris, where Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace took over command.

Macpherson had been created a Companion of the Order of the Bath in June 1815 and in November 1816 he was placed on half-pay in the 71st Foot. He was created a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order of Hanover by King William IV in January 1835, was promoted Colonel on 10 January 1837, and Major-General on 9 November 1846. On 26 July 1847, he was granted a ‘Reward for Distinguished Services’ which he gave up on being appointed Colonel of the 73rd Foot on 29 July 1852. He was promoted Lieutenant-General on 20 June 1854, and, upon the death of his old friend Sir John Wallace, he asked for and obtained the Colonelcy of the 88th Foot, which he held from 11 February 1857 until his death, aged 84, on 23 February 1858, at Viewfield Lodge near Stirling. The Stirling Journal noted that Robert Macpherson’s “sympathies were strongly with the people of his boyhood - the brave Highlanders of Scotland.”