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: £8,000 - £10,000

Able Seaman Gilbert White who was aboard the Lowestoffe when, in concert with Dido, the two frigates engaged two superior French ships and captured the Minerve of 40 guns; taken into the Royal Navy under the same name she later distinguished herself under Cockburn, Nelson and Hardy

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Lowestoffe 24 June 1795 [6], Egypt [615] (Gilbert White.) some very minor edge bruises and nicks, otherwise good very fine £8000-10000

Footnote

Provenance: Eaton Collection 1880, sold Glendining’s, July 1930 (Lord Cheylesmore); Spink N.C., January 1974; Spink, April 2013.

Lowestoffe 24 June 1795 [6 issued] - William Gibson, Boy 2; Thomas Kemp, A.B. (Known); Edward Libby, Midshipman (Known); George Salvedore, A.B. (National Maritime Museum); John Smith, A.B.; Gilbert White, A.B.

Egypt [615 issued] - including 31 to Foudroyant.

Gilbert White served as Able Seaman aboard the 32-gun frigate Lowestoffe in her spirited action, in concert with Dido, with two superior French frigates, and in the same rate aboard the Foudroyant in the operations on and off the coast of Egypt.

Lowestoffe and Dido capture the 40-gun French frigate Minerve

On 23 June 1794 Admiral Hotham dispatched the Dido 28, Captain G. H. Towry, and the Lowestoffe 32, Captain R. G. Middleton, to reconnoitre the harbour of Toulon to confirm intelligence that the French fleet was at sea. Early on the morning of the 24th June, these frigates encountered the French 40-gun Minerve and the 36-gun Artémise, which frigates by coincidence had been directed to ascertain the truth of a rumour that the British fleet was at sea. Seeing the French frigates nearly ahead, Dido and Lowestoffe immediately gave chase, but on observing the inferior force of the British ships, stood round and, with colours flying, changed course to attack their enemy. At 8.30 a.m. the Minerve opened fire on the Dido, and being almost double the size of the British frigate, suddenly bore up, and attempted to finish the contest at once by running her down. By a skilful manoeuvre Dido received the shock obliquely, the Minerve carried away her jib-boom, and her bowsprit became locked in the mizzen rigging of the Dido. Under a heavy fire of musketry the Frenchmen made an unsuccessful attempt to board but this was prevented not only by the pikemen on her quarterdeck but also by the violence of the ships striking each other in the violent swells of the sea. After some time in these conditions with Dido literally hanging by her mizzen rigging on Minerve’s bowsprit, the latter broke in two and carried overboard with it Dido’s badly damaged mizzen-mast together with her colours and eight or ten of the French boarders; a union jack was quickly found and nailed to the stump of Dido’s mizzen-mast. At 9.00 a.m. Lowestoffe came up and by her well-directed fire shot away Minerve’s foremast, and her main and mizzen topmasts. With Minerve thus disabled, Captain Towry sent Lowestoffe in chase of the Artémise, and the two ships exchanged a few shots, but the French frigate increased her distance so fast from her pursuer that the chase was called off. At 11.30 a.m. Lowestoffe opened a raking fire on the Minerve, and Dido, which had gone ahead to repair damages, rejoined the contest, whereupon the French frigate, her mizzen-mast with her colours having gone by the board, surrendered.

Minerve was taken into the Royal Navy as a 38-gun frigate of the same name and, Captained by George Cockburn and with both Commodore Horatio Nelson and Lieutenant Thomas Hardy on board, shared with Blanche the brilliant action with the Spanish frigates Sabina and Ceres in December of the following year.