Life Saving Awards from the Collection of John Wilson

Date of Auction: 25th March 2013

Sold for £1,050

Estimate: £1,000 - £1,400

A rare life saving group awarded to Joseph Beedon, Boatswain, Royal Navy

Baltic 1854-55, unnamed as issued; Crimea 1854-55, 1 clasp, Sebastopol (J. Beedem, A.B.) engraved naming, the clasp loose on ribbon as issued; Royal Humane Society, large bronze medal (successful) (Joseph Beeden, A.B., H.M.S. Duke of Wellington 31 Jany. 1857) fitted with ring suspension; Royal Humane Society, large silver medal (successful), (James Beeden, A.B., H.M.S. Cumberland 9 July 1857) with silver Second Award clasp, 1st type, the obverse of the clasp dated ‘20 March 1872’, the reverse engraved with the Case No. ‘18897’, fitted with ring and silver straight bar suspension, note variation in christian and surnames, very fine and better, rare (4) £1000-1400


Ex D.N.W. 22 October 1997.

R.H.S. Bronze Medal (Case No. 15,943): On 31st January 1857, Edward Sanderson, A.B. of H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, accidentally fell overboard from the Main Guard into the River Tagus at Lisbon. Joseph Beeden, A.B., immediately jumped overboard from the stern, a height of 40 feet to the water, and swam to his assistance and rescued Sanderson who was insensible.

R.H.S. Silver Medal (Case No. 16,023): At sea, in latitude 36º 10’ N., longitude 14º 50’ W., on the 9th of July 1857, a seaman named Charles Jenner, belonging to H.M.S. Cumberland, accidentally fell overboard from the main chains, and struck a lower deck port in his fall, while learning to heave the lead; the ship at the time being under all sail, and going through the water about seven knots. He would in all probability have been drowned, but for the intrepid conduct of James Beeden, A.B., who immediately jumped overboard, swam to his assistance, and supported him until picked up by the cutter.

R.H.S. Silver Clasp (Case No. 18,897): On 20th March 1872, whilst H.M.S. Malabar was at sea off Bombay, a Private Soldier who was insane, jumped overboard. Joseph Beedem, Boatswain, jumped overboard and supported the man with a life buoy, when both were picked up by a boat.

Beedem was awarded his second silver medal rescue in 1872 and he was given a silver bar in lieu of the medal as was the practice for a further award. However, the R.H.S. Secretary did not recognise that Beedem’s original silver medal awarded in 1857 was of the large type and would have been issued without suspension. Beedem overcame this difficulty by having a suspension fitted to his large silver medal which allowed him to wear the medal and allow the second award bar to be attached to the ribbon. The bronze medal was fitted with a similar ring suspension.

Joseph Beeden was born in Dublin on 21 September 1833. He entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on H.M.S.
Fly on 22 November 1847 and was advanced to Boy 1st Class in February 1850. On board H.M.S. Britannia, January 1852-March 1855, he saw service in the Baltic and was promoted to Ordinary Seaman in January 1852 and Able Seaman in August 1952. He then served on H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, March 1855-April 1857, seeing service in the Crimean War and being promoted to Leading Seaman in December 1856 and ranked as Coxswain of the Cutter in February 1857. In January 1857 whilst serving on H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, he performed the first of his rescues for which he was awarded the R.H.S. Bronze Medal. Beeden next served on H.M.S. Cumberland, becoming Captain of the Mizzen Top in April 1857 and Boatswain’s Mate in November the same year. In July 1857 he performed his second rescue for which he was awarded the R.H.S. Silver Medal. Gaining the rank of Boatswain in December 1860, he received a Silver Clasp to his R.H.S. Medal in Silver for rescue performed in March 1872 while serving on H.M.S. Malabar. Boatswain Joseph Beeden was again serving on H.M.S. Malabar when he died of disease on 24 June 1881.

With original photograph of the recipient, and replacement copies of his R.H.S. certificates (3); together with a quantity of copied research, including: service papers; extracts from R.H.S. Committee Minutes; roll extracts and death certificate.