Medals for Services at Sea from the Collection of the Late Oliver Stirling Lee

Image 1

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 2nd March 2005

Sold for £5,800

Estimate: £4,000 - £4,500

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Trafalgar (Chas. Highfield) edge nicks and minor contact marks, good very fine £4000-4500


Charles Highfield served as an Able Seaman aboard H.M.S. Royal Sovereign at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. The flagship of Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood - Nelson’s second-in-command and leader of the Lee Division - the Royal Sovereign was heavily engaged on that memorable occasion:

‘In the actual fighting there was no ship which covered herself with greater distinction. For a time she was engaged single-handed with several of the enemy’s ships, before tackling Alava’s flagship, the Santa Ana. Her losses on this occasion amounted to 144, including 14 officers killed and wounded. Her injuries were very severe. Her main and mizen masts and fore-topsail-yard were shot away, and her fore-mast, having been shot in several places and stripped of nearly the whole of its rigging, was left in a tottering state. By the time the Spanish three-decker Santa Ana struck to her, the Royal Sovereign was almost unmanageable; and at 6 p.m. Admiral Collingwood, who had succeeded the dead hero as Commander-in-Chief, was compelled to shift his flag into the Euryalus, frigate, by which, and afterwards by the Neptune, she was taken in tow’ (Mackenzie’s Trafalgar Roll refers).

Highfield would appear to have been born in Lancaster in 1774, although some sources give Chapel Hanston, Yorkshire, as his birthplace. More certain is the fact he appears on the muster rolls for the Royal Sovereign for the period April 1803 until January 1806, when he transferred to the Salvadore. Advanced to Quarter-Master’s Mate aboard the Lacedemonian in June 1814, he was finally discharged ashore in July of the following year.