Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (12 November 2020)

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Date of Auction: 12th November 2020

Sold for £6,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £7,000

A fine and important First China War C.B. group of three awarded to Captain Harry Eyres, Royal Navy, who commanded H.M.S. Modeste, the most actively employed Royal Navy Ship during the war, taking part in all but one of the thirteen actions and operations, and being mentioned in despatches on no fewer than nine occasions for his conduct of affairs during this campaign, which led to his promotion to Captain in May 1841, and the nomination for a C.B. in October 1841

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1818, maker’s mark ‘IE’ for John Edwards, complete with wide swivel-ring suspension and integral gold ribbon buckle; China 1842 (Harry Eyres, Captain, H.M.S. Modeste); Baltic 1854-55, unnamed, court mounted for display, some minor chipping to green enamel wreaths on the first, the second with two edge bruises but generally very fine and better (3) £6,000-£7,000


Provenance: Douglas-Morris Collection, Dix Noonan Webb, February 1997.

Harry Eyres was second son of George Robert Eyres Esq., by Louisa, eldest daughter of Sir Harry Parker, Bart., of Melford Hall, Suffolk. He was a nephew of Sir Hyde Parker, Bart., and a cousin of Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker, C.B. He entered the Navy on 17 June 1818, as a Volunteer on board the Iphigenia, commanded by his relative, Captain Hyde Parker, whom he accompanied to the West Indies. He was afterwards, until April 1827, employed as Midshipman and Mate, on the Home, Mediterranean, and North American stations, in the Shearwater, Liffey, Iphigenia again, Brisk, Active and Jupiter. He then became Acting Lieutenant of the Niemen, being confirmed on his return to England by commission dated 5 June 1827. He was subsequently appointed to the Comet, 4 February 1829, in the East Indies; Victory, 30 October 1832, flagship of Sir Thomas Foley at Portsmouth; Forte, 9 May 1843, of which ship, after visiting Bermuda in command of the Pyramus with 400 convicts on board, he became First Lieutenant; Fly, 20 January 1835, and, on 12 October 1836, to the command of the Pantaloon, tender to the Royal George yacht.

Attaining the rank of Commander on 10 January 1837, Eyres, in November of the same year, commissioned the Modeste. In that ship, after serving for some time under Lord John Hay on the north coast of Spain during the Carlist war, he proceeded to North America, where he was present at Mexico during the dispute between that republic and the French government, and was sent to New York with despatches for the British Minister at Washington relative to the Maine boundary question. He was also very actively employed in suppressing the slave traffic in the Mozambique Channel.

He afterwards took an active part in the first China War. On 7 January 1841, he ably assisted in the attack on Tycocktow, and on 26 February he obtained the best thanks of Sir Gordon Bremer for his conduct at the capture of the island of Wangtong. The next day he afforded very efficacious support to an attack made by a squadron under Captain Thomas Herbert on the enemy’s camp, fort and ship Cambridge, bearing the Chinese Admiral’s flag, at their position below Whampoa Reach, where he landed, and contributed to the destruction in the whole of 98 guns. On 13 March Captain Eyres was likewise mentioned for his effective aid at the capture of the last fort protecting the approaches to Canton; and in the course of the same month, and in the following May, he was reported for his gallantry at the first and second investment of that city. After further serving at the capture of Amoy, Chusan, and Chinghae, he returned to England, towards the close of 1841, with intelligence of the capture of Ningpo. As a reward for his services he was raised to Post-rank with seniority from 6 May 1841, and nominated a C.B. on 14 October of the same year. He was appointed to the command of the St George, 16 February 1854, and served in the Baltic during that year. In 1855 he conveyed troops to the Mediterranean, escorted Her Majesty to France, and visited Lisbon in honour of the accession of the King of Portugal to the throne. He was subsequently appointed to the Exmouth, 20 March 1856; St Vincent, 30 July 1857; Duke of Wellington, 17 March 1858; and St Vincent again on 1 July 1858. Harry Eyres was placed on half-pay in April 1859 and died at his home in Dorset Square, London, on 17 July 1860.

A detailed description of the activities of Modeste can be found in the two volume work ‘Expedition to China’, by Commander J. E. Bingham, late 1st Lieutenant of Modeste, published in 1842. Sold with additional research including copied London Gazette entries.