The Collection of Medals formed by The Late John Hillard

Date of Auction: 31st March 2010

Sold for £3,600

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

An interesting Naval General Service Medal awarded to Commander G. Drew, Royal Navy, who, in addition to seeing active service off the Cape of Good Hope in 1806 and Java in 1811, latterly served as a “Superintendent of Convicts” in Tasmania 1845-55

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Java (George Drew, Lieut.), suspension claw refixed, edge bruising and somewhat polished, thus nearly very fine £1800-2200


George Drew entered the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman aboard H.M.S. Hecate in July 1803, but was quickly appointed Midshipman that November, when he joined the Texel under Lord Torrington. And he remained employed under the same senior officer until September 1810, with further appointments in the Malabar and Belliqueux, in which latter ship he assisted at the reduction of the Cape of Good Hope in January 1806, and was present at the capture and destruction of a Dutch frigate, seven brigs of war and about 20 armed and other merchant vessels in the Batavia Roads that November.

Having then served successively as Master’s Mate and Acting Lieutenant in the
Russell, flagship of Vice-Admiral William O’Brien Drury, Drew joined the Caroline under Captain Christopher Cole, and was subsequently present at the reduction of Java in August 1811 - thereby qualifying for one of around 30 “Java” clasps to his ship. Invalided home before the year’s end, he was confirmed in the rank of Lieutenant in May 1812 and joined the Royal Sovereign, and afterwards Centaur, both commands of Captain Thomas Gordon Caulfeild, under whom he had earlier served on the Mediterranean and Cape of Good Hope Stations.

Later appointments included six years employment on the Coast Blockade, during which he officiated as Supernumerary Lieutenant aboard the Hyperion, Ramillies and Talavera, following which, in April 1831, he removed to the Coast Guard, and it was while in command of the revenue vessel Harpy that he was advanced to Commander in January 1843.

Superintendent of Convicts: Tasmania 1844-1859

Shortly thereafter, however, he sailed for Tasmania to take up appointment as a Superintendent to the Probation Department (Transportation), a recently introduced “probation system” having been introduced which entailed the setting up of a series of convict or invalid stations all over the colony, from which road making and other working parties could be sent out - but such stations required overseers, ex-Military and Naval Officers being high on the list of preferred candidates. Thus one of Drew’s first appointments, the station at Impression Bay, on the South-East coast (now Koonya), where his first inmates comprised convicts and pauper invalids who had formerly been housed at New Norfolk, and in which capacity he served from 1844-46. But he continued in similar employ for several years, his other appointments including time as Superintendent of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land (O’Byrne refers).

Drew finally terminated his appointment with the Probation Department (Transportation) in early 1855, when he became Harbour Master at Launceston, and took up residence with his family at Government Cottage. And here he remained until his resignation towards the close of 1858, prior to his return to the U.K. in the steamer Star of Tasmania in the New Year.

Commander Drew died at Plymouth in December 1871, aged 82 years.