The Brian Ritchie Collection of H.E.I.C. and British India Medals

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Date of Auction: 23rd September 2005

Sold for £12,000

Estimate: £9,000 - £12,000

The Third Mahratta War medal to Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Lloyd, Commanding the Resident’s Escort at Seetabuldee, when he was wounded four times, twice severely, during the epic eighteen-hour action

(a) Army of India 1799-1826, 1 clasp, Seetabuldee & Nagpore (Captn. Wm. Lloyd, Residents Escort) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming

(b) Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Union), Gold Jewel, the obverse central medallion engraved with the arms of the Order, glazed and set within a wreath of laurel with pendant crook and mace, the medallion loose in its setting, the reverse inscribed ‘Presented by the Members of the Widows and Orphans Fund of the IOFMU to Major Sir Wm. Lloyd Kt. as a token of esteem. Wrexham District 1850’, some minor knocks and marks, toned, generally good very fine £9000-12000

Footnote

Only 19 Seetabuldee & Nagpore clasps to European recipients.

William Lloyd, the eldest son of Richard Middleton Lloyd of Plas Madoc and Brynestyn, and his wife Mary, the daughter and co-heir of William Bowey of Chester, was born at Wrexham Regis on 29 December 1782. He was nominated a Cadet of Infantry on the Bengal Establishment in 1799 and arrived in India as an Ensign in 1800. Posted to the 2/5th Bengal N.I. at Barrackpore, he volunteered for foreign service in August 1803 and took the native volunteers of his battalion to Calcutta where they were attached to the 2nd Battalion, Bengal Volunteers. But owing to a ‘severe indisposition’ Lloyd was prevented from going overseas with the battalion to Ceylon, and had to wait until March 1804 until another opportunity offered. He then volunteered to command the Marines in the Company’s frigate Bombay (Commodore John Hayes, father of Captain Fletcher Hayes (Ritchie 1-79)) on an expedition against the seaport town of Mucktee on the western coast of Sumatra, in consequence of the local populace’s ‘barbarous’ treatment of the crew of an English ship, the Crescent.

On 26 July, the Bombay, the Phoenix and the Lord Castlereagh anchored off Mucktee and a ‘seid’, representing the local chiefs, was received on board Hayes’ vessel. After many ‘evasive projects’ had been proposed by the envoy, Commodore Hayes returned the ‘treacherous priest’ and at 9:00 a.m. next morning ‘made the signal for the divisions to embark in boats for the storming of the place’. ‘They had scarcely formed near the off side of the frigate’ Hayes continues, ‘when the faithless barbarians opened their fire upon her from three batteries abreast and within half a mile of us. I immediately caused a heavy cannonade to commence from the frigate...’ The landing party gained the shore ‘without accident of any kind, a rare instance of good fortune altogether unexpected, considering the ferocious banditti we had to contend with, and dislodge from very strong positions. After gaining the enemy’s works, I secured them by posting the Bengal Volunteers, under Lieut. Nott, on the right in the battery containing the heavy guns and most exposed; the Bombay Marines, under Lieut. Lloyd in the centre; and the Malbro’ Volunteers on the left...’ On the morning of the 28th, Hayes and Lloyd advanced with the Marines into the interior and destroyed the enemy’s works and captured ‘20 pieces of small cannon’. On the 29th, Hayes concludes ‘...we shipped off the ordnance &c. and in the evening embarked the troops, leaving the enemy’s works, &c. at Mucktee, under total conflagration and destruction’.

In November 1805, Lloyd was appointed to the command of the Resident’s Escort at the Mahratta capital of Nagpore, lying some 600 miles from the frontier of Bengal in the heart of the unfrequented and unmapped Deccan. Over the course of the next few years Lloyd carried out a survey of the country, producing maps which later proved crucial in hunting down the Pindarries. On 15 December 1810, Lloyd, commanding a small detail of cavalry, attacked and defeated a body of Pindarry horsemen, and in January 1814, when the Escort was returning from Poona to Nagpore, the Pindarries were so much in evidence that Lloyd was obliged to augment his force with troops from the principal military stations along the way.



On the afternoon of 25 November 1817, when it seemed the Bhonsla intended to drive the British out, Lloyd brought the troops at the Residency, comprising the Escort, an artillery detachment, and about two hundred men under a Lieutenant Bayley to arms. In the likelihood of hostilities, the Resident, Richard Jenkins (Ritchie 2-13), issued instructions to the local British garrison at Telingkeri, which comprised three troops of the 6th Light Cavalry, two weak infantry battalions 1/20th and 1/24th Madras N.I., and two guns, telling them to move swiftly on to Seetabuldee hills overlooking the Residency. Lloyd’s men were relieved at the Residency by the 6th Light Cavalry and joined the Telingkeri garrison under Lieutenant-Colonel Hopetoun Scott on the hills.

The evening of the 26th found Scott’s forces confronted by the Bhonsla’s army of 12,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry of whom nearly half were formidable Arabs. At sunset the action commenced. Initially Lloyd was posted with the Escort on the western side of the smaller of the two hills, but it soon became apparent that this position was unlikely to be attacked, and he detached a party to the other side. Here, ‘he witnessed considerable confusion at different times; the sepoys would not keep their ranks, but crowded together many deep; some were running for refuge amongst the tombs in the rear, the fire of the Arabs was incessant, and to complete the disorder, a 6-pounder limber blew up at half-past 9 o’clock.’

At midnight, Scott ordered the withdrawal of the 1/24th Madras N.I. who had sustained heavy casualties from the northern slopes of the small hill and sent Lloyd with 100 of the Escort and 50 men of the 1/20th to relieve them. The Arab infantry was now well ensconced in the huts which covered the lower slopes, and Lloyd was obliged to conduct the defence from a hastily constructed breastwork of grain bags barely sufficient to hold 100 men. Shortly before day break Lloyd prevailed on Cornet L. H. Smith of the 6th Light Cavalry to charge the Arabs, but at his approach the enemy took cover in the huts and refused to move until he had gone away. A number of troop horses were shot down and Smith reluctantly retired. The Arabs grew bolder, their fire becoming more intense than at any previous period in the battle. Between 8:00 and 9:00 am, nine Mahratta guns, two of which were with the Arabs not more than 80 or 100 yards from the summit, played on the Lloyd’s position and had it not been for the elevation the ‘British must have been swept away in a quarter of an hour.’

Lloyd ordered his small reserve to make a dash for the two nearest guns, but found that in the earlier confusion thirty of his sepoys had retired to the main position, and that the remainder were unequal to the task. He sent word to Scott informing him that the position was untenable, and, agreeing with the Madras Artillery officer that one of his two guns was in danger of being dismounted, he gave orders for it to be shifted to the rear. On seeing the gun being removed, the Arabs assumed the position was being abandoned and made a rapid charge on the front and both flanks: ‘Captain Lloyd had only time to order the men to fire, and expecting to be followed, jumped over the parapet to meet the Arabs: not a man came out of the work to support him, although almost in contact with the enemy; a matchlock ball grazed his left arm, and, to complete the disaster, the reserve instead of charging the enemy, fired a few scattered shot, and retreated very precipitately towards the [big] hill ... The game was up: officers and men rushed out of the work together, closely pursued by the Arabs who used both sword and dagger. The British twice attempted to make a stand: it was useless; a few of the bravest men turned, but the panic was too general to be remedied, except by a prompt advance of fresh troops, and the escort were fairly forced to the right.’

The remnants of Scott’s infantry crowded together on the crown of Seetabuldee’s main hill, which itself had been attacked with increasing vigour since midnight from the south and east. The Mahratta cavalry then advanced from the west intending to complete the night’s work. They were however checked by brilliant charges of the 6th Light Cavalry led by Captain Charles FitzGerald (Ritchie 1-36) and Lieutenant John Hearsey (Ritchie 2-12) and scattered across the plain.

Having witnessed the effect of the cavalry’s exploits, the infantry redoubled their fire and the Escort mustered for a counter-attack on the smaller hill. Hearsey’s account of the action states that at this point: ‘Mr Jenkins, the Resident, addressed his escort, and told them that he expected success from them’. Fortuitously a limber exploded on the small hill in the midst of the Arabs and at that moment the Escort, joined by an equal number of the 20th and 24th, charged over the 400 yards of open ground to retake the summit of the small hill. When within a few paces of the Arab standards atop the small hill, ‘Capt. Lloyd was shot through the right shoulder and Lieut. Grant of the 24th was killed; fortunately the former was not struck down, and the men being greatly animated, they pressed rapidly over the breastwork and burning ammunition barrels, charging the enemy, and resolved to terminate the battle by driving him out of the village [at the foot of the hill].’ While clearing the huts in the village, Lloyd was again wounded being ‘shot through the body’.

Hearsey wrote of the counter-attack on the small hill, ‘Lloyd, in this affair, received four bullet wounds. Both his shoulders were grazed where the epaulets were placed; while waving his sword and cheering on his men a bullet struck him on the elbow, running along the arm and coming out of the shoulder; the fourth bullet had struck him at the waistband of his trousers, had glanced over a button, and entering the skin, ran round the abdomen and out at the opposite button. Lloyd had on doeskin leathers. His last wound was thought to be a fatal one, as it was supposed that the bullet had entered the abdomen, but it proved otherwise, a mere skin wound.’

Utterly exhausted, Lloyd walked back to the main position for assistance. Command of the Escort devolved on Captain Moxon, who with the help of Cornet R. W. Smith, finally dislodged the Arabs from the huts. By noon the Arabs were completely beaten and the Mahratta cavalry had retired to a respectable distance. Thus ended the battle of Seetabuldee - ‘which was, perhaps, one of the most important in its consequences, of any fought in India for many years.’

In spite of his wounds Lloyd was present at the battle of Nagpore on 16 December, and continued with the Resident’s Escort until its disbandment in 1820. In 1821-22, he undertook two tours of Upper India, resulting in the publication in 1840 of his book Narrative of a Journey from Cawnpore to the Borendo Pass in the Himalayas, via Gwalior, Agra, Delhi and Sirhind. Lloyd went on furlough in 1823 and was promoted Major in the 11th N.I. (late 1/5th N.I.) in 1824. In 1825 he was removed to the rolls of the 3rd Extra Regiment and retired the same year. Lloyd was created a Knight Bachelor in 1838, was a magistrate for the county of Denbigh, and was appointed Major Commandant of the Denbighshire Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry in March of the same year. His last promotion to the rank of Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel came in 1854, three years before his death on 16 May 1857 at Llandudno.

Refs: Officers of the Bengal Army 1758-1838; East India Military Calendar; The Hearseys, Five Generations of an Anglo-Indian Family (Pearse); Modern English Biography (Boase).