The John Goddard Collection of Important Naval Medals and Nelson Letters

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Date of Auction: 24th November 2015

Sold for £22,000

Estimate: £8,000 - £10,000

Gunner John Webber who served as Coxswain aboard Duncan’s flagship Venerable at Camperdown, as Quartermaster in the same ship at Saumarez’s action in the Gut of Gibraltar, and as a Gunner on board Rosario in her remarkably gallant action with a French flotilla off Dieppe in March 1812

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 3 clasps, Camperdown [298], Gut of Gibraltar 12 July 1801 [143], Rosario 27 March 1812 [7] (John Webber, Gunner.) edge bruise, otherwise very fine £8000-10000


Provenance: Fergus Gowans Collection; Christie’s, November 1985; Sotheby, December 1990.

Camperdown [298 issued] - including 18 to Admiral Duncan’s flagship Venerable.

Gut of Gibraltar 12 July 1801 [143 issued] - including 22 to Venerable.

Rosario 27 March 1812 [7 issued] - John Brown, Acting Master (a dubious single-clasp medal known but lacking rank); James Gillman, Supernumerary Pilot; George Norris, Pte. R.M. (Honeyman Collection, Huntington Library, U.S.A.); James Rothery, Midshipman (Known); George Starr, Purser (Patiala Collection, Sheesh Mahal Museum, India); William Watson, Surgeon (National Maritime Museum); John Webber, Gunner.

Webber’s entitlement to a three-clasp medal, each entry cross referenced in the official Admiralty Claimants’ list under application number O/304, has escaped note in both the Hailes and Douglas-Morris rolls, where it is shown as three separate single-clasp entitlements, but is properly confirmed in the Message roll.

John Webber served as a Coxswain in Admiral Duncan’s 74-gun flagship Venerable at the battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1797, as a Quartermaster in the same ship in Sir James Saumarez’s action with the French and Spanish squadrons in the Gut of Gibraltar, 12 July 1801, and as Gunner in the 10-gun brig Rosario, when, in company with the 16-gun brig Griffon, the two vessels captured three French brigs off Dieppe, after a very spirited attack on a total of 12 brigs and a lugger, 27 March 1812.

Rosario and Griffon engage a division of the Boulogne flotilla

On the morning of 27 March 1812, the ten-gun brig Rosario, Commander Booty Harvey, cruising about four or five miles from Dieppe, spotted 12 brigs and a lugger standing along shore. This was a division of the Boulogne flotilla, bound for Cherbourg. Each brig carried three long twenty-four-pounders, and an eight-inch howitzer, with a crew of fifty men. The Rosario made sail to cut off the leewardmost of the brigs, whereupon the whole division formed in line and engaged Rosario in succession, and afterwards bore down in an endeavour to lay her on board. The sixteen-gun brig Griffon, Commander George Trollope, appearing in the offing, Commander Harvey summoned her to his assistance, and as soon as his signal was answered, at about forty minutes past noon, again engaged the rear of the enemy, who were trying to run for the port of Dieppe. About fifty minutes later Rosario ran into the middle of the flotilla, drove two of the brigs on board each other by cutting away their running rigging, and backing her main topsail, engaged them within musket shot, until they got clear, and then stood on and engaged a third brig, which she soon dismasted and compelled to anchor. Passing her, the Rosario drove the next brig on shore, and bearing up to Leeward, ran another on board and carried her, being then no more than three quarters of a mile from the beach. Taking his prize in tow, Commander Harvey bore away beyond the reach of the batteries, and met the Griffon coming up under a press of sail to join in the action.

Commander Trollope engaged another brig and drove it ashore in St Aubin’s Bay, under a heavy fire from the batteries, after which Commander Harvey who was repairing his damages, signalled the Griffon to attack the part of the flotilla which had anchored near the shore. Trollope gallantly ran his brig between one of the enemy’s brigs and the shore which he boarded and captured, cut her cables and brought her out under a furious fire from the batteries. Finding the Griffon too badly disabled in her rigging to renew the attack, Harvey, although his prisoners equalled his crew in number, next ran alongside the brig he had earlier dismasted, and finding her abandoned, brought her away. With their three prizes in tow, the Rosario and Griffon made sale for the Downs, while the French Commodore, with his seven remaining vessels entered Dieppe. In this really gallant achievement, the only loss sustained by the British was one midshipman and four men wounded on board the Rosario. Commanders Harvey and Trollope were both promoted to post rank for their gallant conduct on this occasion.