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

Date of Auction: 16th December 2003

Sold for £2,600

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,600

Military General Service 1793-1814, 2 clasps, Nivelle, Nive (H. J. French, Lieut. 85th Foot) nearly extremely fine £1400-1600


Henry John French was born at Preston, Andover, Hampshire, on 27 January 1796, and entered the Army as an Ensign in the 90th Foot on 27 August 1812. He exchanged, as Ensign, into the 85th Foot in January 1813 and was promoted to Lieutenant in July 1813. He served with the 85th Foot in the Peninsula from August 1813 to the end of that war in 1814, including the siege of St Sebastian, the passage of the Bidassoa, at the attack on the French lines on the Nivelle, 10 November 1813, at the passage of the Nive and the actions near the Mayor’s House on 11 & 12 December 1813, and at the investment of Bayonne in 1813 and 1814.

French served also in the American War in 1814 and 1815, and was present in the actions at Bladensburg on 24 August 1814, under Major-General Ross, and at Baltimore on 12 September 1814, under Colonel Brooke; in the action at the creek, near New Orleans, on 23 December 1814, under Major-General Keane, the attack on New Orleans on 28 December 1814, the attack on the right bank of the Mississippi on 8 January 1815, and the investment of Fort Bowyer on 10 February 1815, under Major-General Packenham.

Promoted to Captain in September 1823, he served for two years at Malta and more than five years at Corfu. French became a Major in May 1836, and served with the 85th during the whole of the Canadian Rebellion in 1837-38. He became Lieutenant-Colonel on the half-pay in the 85th Foot in July 1846, and immediately took up an appointment as Deputy Quarter-Master General in Jamaica, which position he held for 8 years. French was appointed Colonel of the 80th Foot (South Staffordshire) in June 1854, was promoted to Major-General in September 1867, and died on 25 January 1874.