The John Goddard Collection of Important Naval Medals and Nelson Letters

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Date of Auction: 24th November 2015

Sold for £19,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Able Seaman Joseph Clark who fought in two brilliant actions aboard the Blanche frigate and later fought at Trafalgar aboard the Minotaur

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Blanche 4 Jany 1795 [5], Trafalgar [1611] (Joseph Clark.) nearly very fine


Provenance: Spink N.C., April 1939 and June 1942; Glendining’s, June 1952, December 1953, April and November 1960, March 1989.

Blanche 4 Jany 1795 [5 issued] - Joseph Clark, Boy 3; Thomas Evans, A.B. (Known; also entitled to Blanche 19 December 1796 but clasp not on medal); Henry Greely (Known; also entitled to Blanche 19 December 1796 but clasp not on medal); Thomas L. Prescott, Lieut. R.N. (National Maritime Museum); Frederick Watkins, Lieut. R.N. (Known).

Trafalgar [1611 issued] - including 34 to Minotaur.

Joseph Clark served as a Boy 3rd Class aboard the 32-gun frigate Blanche at the capture of the French frigate Pique in January 1795 and as Able Seaman aboard the Minotaur at Trafalgar. The Admiralty claimants list shows that he was also entitled to the clasp ‘Blanche 19 Decr 1796’ as a Boy and his name appears on the application list for that clasp (ADM 171/2 page 38). However, the two clasps which are on the medal appear under application number 6/44 while the claim for ‘Blanche 19 Decr 1796’ has a different application number (U/1654), which no doubt explains why that application was not linked to application 6/44 and why therefore the third clasp does not appear on Clark’s medal.

Interestingly, there may therefore be another genuine medal named to Joseph Clark but, if so, it should, in accordance with ADM 171/2 page 38 of the Admiralty claimants list, simply bear the single ‘Blanche 19 Decr 1796’ clasp applied for under application number U/1654. The only other Joseph Clark shown on the rolls was a Midshipman at Algiers but his medal is not relevant in the present context since it would show the rank of Midshipman whereas, as one would expect with a medal to a rating, the medal now offered for sale shows no rank. As noted above, the medals of Evans and Greely also omit the ‘Blanche 19 Decr 1796’ clasp. Thus, the only recipient known to have actually received this clasp was Midshipman Richard Pridham (Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth).

Blanche captures Pique after a brilliant five-hour action

In the early morning of 4 January 1795 the Blanche, Captain Robert Faulknor, found the 38-gun French frigate Pique at anchor outside the harbour of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadaloupe, together with a small schooner. Shortly after midday the Frenchman got underway and stood out after the Blanche. Captain Faulknor immediately shortened sail for the enemy to come up but the Pique tacked and stood away. The Blanche then made all sail in chase and coming up with her opponent soon after midnight commenced a close engagement, broadside to broadside. About half-past two, in luffing up to rake the Pique, the main and mizzen masts of the Blanche fell over her side, and the Pique made several unsuccessful attempts to board. While endeavouring to lash the Pique’s bowsprit to the capstan of his own ship, Captain Faulknor was shot through the heart. Lieutenant Watkins, now in command, succeeded in lashing the bowsprit of the Pique to the stump of Blanche’s mainmast and towed his antagonist into the wind, despite very heavy musket fire from her forecastle and tops. The Blanche having blown out part of her stern frame brought two of her guns to bear on her enemy, which almost cleared her deck and totally dismasted her. In this defenceless condition the French sustained the raking fire of the Blanche until after five a.m., when they called for quarter and surrendered. All the boats of each vessel having been destroyed, Lieutenant Milne with ten seamen swam on board the Pique and took possession of her. The Pique was taken into the Royal Navy, Lieutenant Watkins was promoted to post rank and Lieutenant Milne was promoted to Commander. Out of her crew of 198, the Blanche had her Captain, one midshipman and six men killed, and twenty-one men wounded; her opponent with a complement of about 280 men, had 76 officers and men killed and 110 men wounded. By order of the House of Commons a monument was erected in St Paul’s Cathedral to the memory of Captain Faulknor.