The Collection of Medals formed by the late Arnold Jackson

Date of Auction: 12th December 2012

Sold for £2,800

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500

Military General Service 1793-1814, 4 clasps, Vittoria, St. Sebastian, Nivelle, Nive (W. McNall, Serjt. 59th Foot) edge bruising, otherwise very fine £1200-1500


William McNall was born at Middlegate, York, and enlisted into the 59th Foot at Leeds on 8 January 1810. He was appointed a drummer on 24 January 1813, a position he held until November 1820, and served with the 2nd Battalion at the battle of Vittoria. He was wounded in the right arm at the siege and assault of St Sebastian in September 1813. Here, the Light Companies of the 4th, 47th, and 59th Foot were the first to be sent into the breach of the curtain wall. These three light companies were virtually destroyed, but, joined by the remainder of the 59th, they held the walls for over three hours whilst the remainder of the brigade forced their way into the town. Drummer McNall afterwards took part in the battles of Nivelle and Nive, and was present at Waterloo where his regiment formed part of the Reserve.

In January 1816, he was one of only 27 survivors of the sinking of the
Seahorse transport on the 29th of that month. On 24 January the 2/59th had boarded the two transports, the Lord Melville and the Seahorse, bound for Cork. The Seahorse carried the Headquarters and 303 soldiers of the 2/59th, 33 wives and their 38 children. A fierce gale arose on the 29th and, despite the best efforts of the Captain, the Seahorse ran aground a mile off the shore, in the bay of Tramore. Just 27 souls were saved.

On 26 March 1816, the remnants of the 2nd Battalion having been transferred into the 1st Battalion, the 2nd was disbanded. McNall was promoted to Corporal in November 1820, and to Sergeant in September 1825, and went on to see further action in the Bhurtpoor operations of January 1826, thereby becoming one of just six 59th other ranks to qualify for the Military General Service, Waterloo and Army of India Medals (Sudden Death, Sudden Glory refers) . He was discharged on 14 March 1832 and died at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 4 March 1862. Sold with copied discharge papers and other research - the recipient’s Waterloo and Army of India Medals are known to be extant.