Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (16 December 2003)

Date of Auction: 16th December 2003

Sold for £18,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Trafalgar (Robert Patton, Midshipman) together with two original portrait photographs on glass of the Admiral in old age and an earlier portrait silhouette, dark toned, nearly extremely fine £6000-8000


Robert Patton was the son of Captain Charles Patton, R.N., and first cousin to Admiral Hugh Patton, with whom he served, also as Midshipman, in the Bellerophon at Trafalgar. He entered the Navy in February 1804 as a Volunteer 1st Class on board the Utrecht 64, bearing the flag in the Downs of his uncle Vice-Admiral Phillip Patton. In the following June he removed as Midshipman to the Puissant 74, and to the Bellerophon 74 in November 1804. In the Bellerophon he was engaged in the blockade of Brest, Carthagena and Cadiz, and took part in the battle of Trafalgar. After the death of Captain John Cooke, command of the Bellerophon fell to her First Lieutenant, William Price Cumby, with whom both the young Patton midshipmen were to serve again in different ships.

After having served for three years and nine months in the Niobe 40, Captain J. W. Loring, his old captain from the Utrecht, during which period he assisted at the capture of Le Néarque corvette of 16 guns, he became Master’s Mate, in November 1809, of the Polyphemus 64, Captain William Cumby, flag-ship on the Jamaica station. During this time Patton was Acting Lieutenant for four months and Lieutenant for six months. In April 1811 he joined the Dispatch sloop, in the West Indies, and in July 1812 the Doterel 18, successively employed in the Channel, the West Indies, and North America. In April 1813 and November 1814, he joined the Loire 40 and Junon 38, both on the North American station, where he performed the duties of First-Lieutenant, and was ‘much employed on boat service against the enemy in the Chesapeake, off New London, &c.’ The Loire captured, in December 1813, the Rolla privateer, of 5 guns and 80 men.

Promoted to the rank of Commander in June 1815, Patton was not actively employed for nearly twelve years. He was awarded an honorary silver medallion by the Royal Humane Society in February 1826 for having, in February 1825, rescued a child from drowning who had fallen overboard from H.M. Ship Havock in Portsmouth Harbour, while a passenger in the Fareham passage boat.

He served as Commander from May 1826, until promoted to Captain in April 1827, in the Trinculo 18, on the Cork station. This was his last appointment. He retired in 1847, becoming retired Rear-Admiral in 1854, retired Vice-Admiral in 1861, and retired Admiral in 1864. Patton is depicted amongst the group of six senior retired officers, all veterans of Trafalgar, illustrated in The Graphic of 1879. At the time of his death, at Fareham, Hampshire, in 1883, aged 92, Admiral Robert Patton appears to have been the senior ranking Trafalgar veteran and, indeed, one of the very last surviving officers of that action.