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

Date of Auction: 16th December 2003

Sold for £18,000

Estimate: £10,000 - £12,000

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, 2 Jan Boat Service 1807 (G. Sayer, Midshipman) nearly very fine and very rare £10000-12000


Only 3 clasps issued for this boat action off the Pearl Rock, Martinique.

George Sayer entered the Navy on 11 October 1803 as a First Class Volunteer on board the Cerberus, Captain William Selby, employed at first off Guernsey and then in the West Indies. On the night of 2 January 1807 he was wounded by a musket-ball in the leg while serving as a Midshipman in the boats under Lieutenant William Coote, and was ‘highly extolled for his unsurpassable gallantry’ on that occasion.

Whilst cruising between Martinique and Dominica, on January 2nd 1807, the thirty-two gun frigate Cerberus chased two French schooners, and a sloop, standing for St Pierre. Prevented from reaching that port, they all three anchored under a battery, near the Pearl Rock, and very close to the shore. At about eight in the evening, the boats of the Cerberus, commanded by Lieutenants Coote and Bligh, who volunteered for the service, boarded two of the vessels, under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry from the shore, and though their sails were unbent, brought them out. In addition to two men killed and eight men wounded, Lieutenant Coote was severely wounded in the head and lost an eye, and Midshipman Sayer was wounded in the leg. The third vessel, making use of her sweeps, managed to escape in the darkness.

Lieutenant Coote was promoted to the rank of Commander, granted a pension for his wounds, and presented with a sword valued at 50 guineas by the Patriotic Fund. Midshipman Sayer also received a gratuity from the Patriotic Fund of £20.

After assisting at the reduction of the islands of Marie-Galante and Deseada, Sayer removed, in July 1808, to the Audacious, in which ship he was employed in escorting Sir John Moore’s army to the shores of Portugal and aiding, in January 1809, at its embarkation at Corunna. In October 1809, after a period of six months’ employment in the Baltic in the Victory 100, he was nominated Acting Lieutenant of the Tartar 32, and confirmed in that rank the following month. After service in the Bedford 74, in the North Sea, he again joined the Victory, and in May 1813 removed to the Christian VII 80. The following December he joined the Zealous 74, employed in the North Sea and Channel, and also on the coast of North America, from where he returned in January 1815. In April 1824, he was appointed to the Britannia 120, bearing the flag of Sir James Saumarez at Plymouth.

George Sayer was placed on half-pay in April 1825 and promoted to Commander on the retired list in 1849. He was the cousin of Rear-Admiral George Sayer, who uniquely received the Army Gold Medal for his services at the capture of Java, and also of Captain George Sayer, R.N.