Meritorious Service Medal Groups from the Collection of Ian McInnes

Date of Auction: 25th March 2014

Sold for £11,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

The unique M.G.S. and Army of India group of four awarded to Quartermaster Serjeant William McGowan, 59th, late 27th Regiment

Military General Service 1793-1814, 6 clasps, Badajoz, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse (W. McGowan, Qr. Mr. Serjt., 27th Foot); Army of India 1799-1826, 1 clasp, Bhurtpoor (Color Serjt. W. McGowan, 59th Foot) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming; Army L.S. & G.C., W.IV.R. (?M Gowan, Qr. Master Serj. 59th Regiment Foot 183?) part of inscription obscured by suspension, fitted with a straight bar suspension, with a clasp, lightly inscribed, ‘1809-1837’; Army Meritorious Service Medal, V.R. (Qr-Mr-Sjt. W. McGowan, 59th Regt.) with a slip bar inscribed, ‘Portugal Spain France America 1863 Canada India Malta Gibraltar’, each medal fitted with an ornate silver brooch bar, edge bruising, contact marks, nearly very fine and better (4) £8000-10000


William McGowan was born in Loughrea, Galway in 1797. He enlisted into the 27th Regiment at Lisbon, Portugal in March 1809, aged 12 years and was appointed a Drummer and Fifer. He remained with the regiment until 1814, earning the first of his six clasps at the third siege of Badajoz in April 1812; the second at the climactic battle of Vittoria, 21 June 1813 and the last at the battle of Toulouse in France on 10 April 1814. Still underage, he then went with the regiment to North America and took part in the ill-fated Plattsburg campaign. He returned to England in June 1815 but his battalion missed the Waterloo campaign and he was discharged on 5 June 1815. He rejoined the Army two days later and was posted to the 94th Regiment (The Scots Brigade) and as a Private and Drummer he served in the Army of Occupation in France. The 94th were disbanded on 30 December 1818 but the next day McGowan joined the 59th Regiment. With them he served over nine years in India, attaining the rank of Sergeant in August 1822. Serving at Bhurtpoor his papers note that he particularly distinguished himself in command of the sixth company when its commander was severely wounded and he led the assault through the breach. Returning to England in September 1828 he was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant and commanded one section of the Guard of Honour to the Duke of Wellington, when he opened the railway between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830. Then after nearly two years on Gibraltar and six months on Malta he completed his overseas service and was discharged at Liverpool on 11 April 1837. He was awarded the Army L.S. & G.C. in October 1837 and in 1862 he was awarded the M.S.M. with an annuity of £20 which he continued to draw until his death on 4 October 1887, aged 90 years.

The above combination is unique in that no other recipient of a William IV Army L.S. & G.C. received an M.S.M., and no other recipient of the M.S.M. was awarded both the Military General Service and Army of India Medals.

With copied service papers and other research. The man and his service are featured (p.230) and the medals are illustrated (Plate 8) in The Annuity Meritorious Service Medal 1847-1953, by Ian McInnes.