Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (27 & 28 February 2019)

Date of Auction: 27th & 28th February 2019

Sold for £6,500

Estimate: £2,000 - £2,600

The K.C.B. group of four awarded to Admiral Sir A. F. R. de Horsey, Royal Navy, who distinguished himself as Senior Officer on the Lakes of Canada during the Fenian disturbances of 1866-67, and was afterwards Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific and present in the Shah when, together with the Amethyst, engaged in action with the Peruvian rebel turret-ship Huascar in May 1877

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, K.C.B. (Military) Knight Commander’s set of insignia, comprising neck badge in silver-gilt and enamels, and breast star in silver with appliqué centre in gold and enamels, fitted with gold pin for wearing, in Garrard & Co Ltd case of issue; Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Syria (A. F. R. de Horsey. Mid.) contemporary re-engraved naming; Canada General Service 1866-70, 1 clasp, Fenian Raid 1866 (Capt. A. F. R. De Horsey. H.M.S. Aurora) officially engraved naming; St. Jean d’Acre 1840, silver, fitted with replacement silver bar suspension, good very fine (5) £2,000-£2,600


Algernon Frederick Rous de Horsey was born on 25 July 1827, the son of Spencer Horsey de Horsey, of Great Glemham, Suffolk, and Lady Louise, a daughter of the first Earl of Stradbroke. His only sister was the Countess of Cardigan, whose reminiscences caused a scandal when they were published.

De Horsey entered the Navy in February 1840, and served as First Class Volunteer and Midshipman in the Vanguard in the operations of 1840 on the coast of Syria (Medal). He was Flag Lieutenant to Sir George Seymour in the West Indies, when, in command of Brisk, he captured, after a hard chase, the celebrated Spanish slaver Manuela, 702 tons, with 846 slaves on board. He was Senior Officer at Jamaica in the Wolverine during the rebellion of 1865, and received the thanks of the Governor and both Houses of Parliament, and was voted a piece of plate, value £100, which the rules of the services prevented his receiving.

De Horsey was Senior Officer on the Lakes of Canada in the Aurora during the Fenian disturbances of 1866-67, wintering that ship in the ice at Quebec (Canada Medal and Clasp). He was appointed A.D.C. to H.M. the Queen, 1871-75. Commanded Devastation, Victor, Wolverene, Aurora and Aboukir in the West Indies. He was Commodore in the West Indies, 1872-75, and commanded the Brisk and Hector on the Cape of Good Hope and Home Stations.

He was Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific, 6 August 1876 to 21 July 1879, and in the Shah, with the Amethyst, engaged for three hours the Peruvian rebel turret-ship Huascar, 29 May 1877, driving her under the shelter of the town of Ylo, whence she escaped after dark and surrendered next day to the Peruvian Squadron. On the following day Commodore Moore, an officer of Irish descent, of the Peruvian Navy called upon Rear-Admiral de Horsey to present the thanks of the Peruvian Government for the aid given by the Royal Navy, thanks which were not accepted by de Horsey since he had ‘... acted solely on account of the Huascar having committed piratical acts against British subjects, ships and property.’ The Law Officers of the Crown decided that Admiral de Horsey was bound to act decisively for the protection of British subjects, and his proceedings in law were justifiable. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in communicating this decision of the Law Officers, wrote, ‘My Lords now desire me to convey to you their support of your having put a stop to the lawless proceedings of the Huascar.’

On 8 September 1878, Admiral de Horsey, in the Shah, visited Pitcairn Island. His Admiralty report included the remark, ‘One stranger, an American, has settled on the island - a doubtful acquisition.’ This line inspired Mark Twain to write the fictional story The Great Revolution in Pitcairn (1879).

He was made Commander-in-Chief, Channel Squadron with his flag in HMS Northumberland in December 1884, was promoted to full Admiral in April 1885, and placed on retired list in July 1892. He was appointed K.C.B. on 9 November 1903, and lived at Melcombe House in Cowes. He frequently contributed letters to The Times and wrote An African Pilot and The Rule of the Road at Sea. He was chairman of Isle of Wight magistrates for many years and Deputy Lieutenant for Hampshire. On 7 November 1913, he was appointed a deputy governor of the Isle of Wight. Admiral Sir Algernon de Horsey died on 22 October 1922, and was described by The Times as ‘Doyen of the Navy’. He is buried, together with his wife Caroline, at Carisbrooke (Mountjoy) Cemetery within sight of Carisbrooke Castle.

See Lot 1075 for the medals awarded to his son, Admiral Spencer de Horsey, R.N.