Orders, Decorations and Medals (30 June 1998)

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Date of Auction: 30th June 1998

Sold for £2,300

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,800

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, 14 Dec Boat Service 1814 (John M. Laws) extremely fine £1400-1800


The medal rolls confirm John M. Laws as midshipman aboard the Ramilles for this action. Approximately 205 clasps were issued for this boat action in which five American gun-vessels and a sloop were captured prior to the attack on New Orleans.

John Milligen Laws was born on 14 February, 1799, and entered the Navy aged 10 years, as First Class Volunteer, on board the Sophie, in which vessel he spent two years employed in the Channel. In October 1812, he became Midshipman of the Ramilles, 74 guns, under Captains Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy and Charles Ogle. The Ramilles was attached to the force on the coast of North America where he participated in many boat affairs and was frequently given charge of a prize. He landed at Washington, Baltimore, and Moose Island, and was wounded in the attack on New Orleans in December 1814.

Laws subsequently served aboard various vessels on the Home, West Indies, and South American stations. In 1824 he accompanied Lord Stuart de Rothesay to the Brazils in the Wellesley. Appointed Commander in 1825, he joined the Satellite in the following year on the East Indies station, during which time he afforded relief to some settlers in New Holland who had been hemmed in by the natives. For fourteen months he was Senior officer at Sydney, and also effected the capture of a band of convicts who had turned pirates. During this time he also made a survey of the Society Islands and New Zealand. In January 1831, after he had extensively examined the east coast of the Bay of Bengal, he was removed to the Cruizer, and sent to Pondicherry for the purpose of acknowledging the government of Louis Phillipe. The following April he became Acting-Captain of the Southampton, bearing the flag on the same station as Sir Edward W. C. R. Owen, with whom he returned to England towards the close of 1832. He was then sent to join the fleet employed under Sir Pultney Malcolm off Antwerp during the period of General Gérard’s attack on the citadel of that place. He was confirmed in the rank of Captain in January 1833.