Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria, to include the Brian Ritchie Collection (Part I) (17 September 2004)

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Date of Auction: 17th September 2004

Sold for £3,200

Estimate: £3,500 - £4,000

The Second Mahratta War medal to Private John Spiers, 29th Light Dragoons

Army of India 1799-1826, 2 clasps, Allighur, Laswarree (J. Spires, 29th Lt. Dragns.) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming, edge bruise and minor nicks, otherwise good very fine


Ex Murray 1908, Phillips 1925, Hamilton-Smith 1927, and Dalrymple White 1946.

Eight medals issued with this combination of clasps, including five to the 29th Light Dragoons and one to the 76th Foot. Approximately 66 clasps for Allighur and 100 clasps for Laswarree were issued to European recipients.

John Spires was born in Liverpool in 1777 and enlisted in 1797 into the 29th Light Dragoons, which had been raised for service in India two years earlier by Lord Heathfield. The following year he sailed with his regiment for India, where it formed part of the Cavalry Division in the army under Lord Lake. Spires’s regiment was renumbered 25th Light Dragoons in 1802 and the following year took part in the Second Mahratta War. Spires served in the Hindustan Campaign and was present at the Battle of Allighur on 4 September 1803. On 1 November 1803, he took part in the hardest fought engagement of the whole campaign, the battle of Laswaree, where the cavalry played a key part in securing Lake a decisive victory over Scindia of Gwalior.

On 22 June 1807, after nine years service in India, Spires was discharged at Chelsea Hospital, as a result of complications arising from a fractured leg which had become badly ulcerated. His discharge papers described him at that time as; ‘Age 29 or 30 years; height, 5 feet 4 and a half inches; hair, brown; eyes, grey; complexion, swarthy’. His occupation was given as ‘Labourer’. He settled in London and was awarded a pension of 9d per day. Shortly before his death on 13 June 1852, he was admitted to Chelsea Hospital and was an ‘in-pensioner’ there when he received his Army of India Medal.

Refs: WO 97/125; IOL L/MIL/5/42; WO 12/1519; WO 120/21; WO 121/83; WO 23/34.