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: £10,000 - £12,000

Major Charles F. Burton, Royal Marines, who was mentioned in despatches for services at Acre in 1800, was an original officer of the R.M. Artillery when established in 1804, and had command of various ship-borne rocket detachments during the war with France; he subsequently commanded the R.M.A. detachments of the Fleet and was severely wounded at the bombardment of Algiers in 1816, moving Lord Exmouth to write ‘Captain Burton, poor fellow, has been wounded, he has been a treasure to me in every respect.’

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 4 clasps, Acre 30 May 1799 [41], Egypt [615], Basque Roads 1809 [518], Algiers [1328] (C. F. Burton, Capt. R.M.) good very fine £10000-12000


Provenance: Glendining’s, December 1969 (ex J. J. Barnett Collection); Sotheby, March 1988.

Acre 30 May 1799 [41 issued] - including 5 officers and 22 men to the Tigre.

Egypt [615 issued] - including 6 officers and 27 men to the Tigre.

Basque Roads 1809 [518 issued] - Burton in command of Rocket Detachment serving aboard various vessels, not shown on the Admiralty roll but entitlement is noted in the Hailes roll.

Algiers [1328 issued] - including 38 officers and 189 men to Lord Exmouth’s Flagship Queen Charlotte.

Charles Frederick Burton entered the Royal Marines as a Second Lieutenant on 8 February 1797, and joined the Tigre from the Portsmouth Division in August of the following year. He subsequently took part in the capture of Napoleon’s siege guns at the siege of Acre in May 1799, when Tigre’s accurate grape shot put the enemy to flight. Earl St Vincent described in his ensuing despatch, London Gazette 18 June 1799, how he ‘has reason to be perfectly satisfied with the gallantry and perseverance of Lieutenant Burton.’

Continuing on board the Tigre, Burton was present for most of the campaign in Egypt of 1801, He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 1 December 1801, and, upon the formation of the Royal Marine Artillery in August 1804, with one company raised for each division, was one of the original nine officers of the Plymouth Division to join, for service in the bomb-ketches and other like vessels. He served in the Vesuvius bomb vessel off the coast of France in April and May 1805, and in the Ætna bomb 1806-07.

Although his name does not appear on the official roll for Basque Roads, it is a matter of record that First Lieutenant Burton was in executive command of all the R.M.A. rocket parties which embarked aboard the transport Cleveland in March 1809, and who were employed on the different ships of Lord Gambier’s squadron at the destruction of the enemy’s Fleet in Basque Roads soon afterwards. In his despatch to the Admiralty of 29 April 1809, Admiral Gambier, after making special mention of the services of the Ætna, said this of the R.M.A. rocket detachments: ‘I have had every reason to be satisfied with the artillerymen and others who had the management of them [the rockets] under Mr Congreve’s direction.’

Lieutenant Burton, furthermore, received a letter of acknowledgement form Gambier in May 1809 which stated: ‘I have received your letter of the 28th Ultimo, with a list of the Royal Marine Artillery employed under your Command in Aix Roads, and have to acquaint you that if any grant should be made by His Majesty for the destruction of the enemy’s ships, it will be proper for you to lay in a claim for yourself and the Officers and men employed under you, to participate therein.’

Promoted to 2nd Captain on 9 August 1809, he had command of the rocket-boat parties that accompanied the expedition to the Scheldt from the end of July to to the third week of December. Burton was promoted to full Captain in July 1810, at which time he was seconded for garrison duty at Lisbon, and further participated in operations in Holland in 1813-15.

The Royal Marine Artillery next saw service at Lord Exmouth’s bombardment of Algiers in August 1816, and Captain Burton had general superintendence of all the R.M.A. in the fleet. The detachment for Exmouth’s flagship, the Queen Charlotte, comprised Captain Burton, Lieutenants Stevens and Wolrige, 4 N.C.O.’s and 20 Gunners, all ‘selected as being acquainted with the rocket practise.’ In the subsequent bombardment, Burton was severely wounded, one of his arms being contused by shell splinters. Lord Exmouth, in a letter to Sir Richard Williams at Portsmouth, was moved to write, ‘Captain Burton, poor fellow, has been wounded, he has been a treasure to me in every respect.’ At Lord Exmouth’s insistence, Burton received special promotion to the rank of Brevet Major, dated 16 September 1816. Major Burton retired in 1820 and is believed to have died in Ireland in 1853.

Sold with copied official correspondence relating to his application for prize money and a wounds pension, a copy of the London Gazette announcing his mention in despatches for Acre, and an attractively bound volume entitled Major C. F. Burton, R.M., His Services in the R.M.A., 1804-1817, being relevant copied pages from the history of the Royal Marine Artillery 1804-1923 by Edward Fraser and L. G. Carr-Laughton.