The John Goddard Collection of Important Naval Medals and Nelson Letters

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Date of Auction: 24th November 2015

Sold for £28,000

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

Landsman John Cremer, who served aboard the frigate Sirius at Trafalgar, and afterwards participated in the same ship in a hotly contested engagement with a French flotilla which culminated in the capture of the corvette Bergère

Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, Trafalgar [1611], Sirius 17 April 1806 [10] (John Cremer) possible official correction to first three letters of surname, polished overall, otherwise very fine £6000-8000


Provenance: Sotheby, May 1895; Spink, May 1991. A Boulton’s pewter Traflagar medal named to John Cremer, H.M.S. Sirius was sold at Debenham’s in July 1899.

Trafalgar [1611 issued] - including 4 officers and 16 men of the Sirius.

Sirius 17 April 1806 [10 issued] - Robert Beatson, Carpenter (Known); Patrick Connolly, Pte. R.M.; Morgan G. Crofton, Midshipman; Henry Curley, L.M.; John Hennessy, Boy 3 Class (National Maritime Museum); John Ingram, Sgt. R.M. (Royal Naval Museum); William Magin, 1st Lieutenant R.M.; Thomas Robertson, Surgeon; William Thomas, L.M.; John Turner, Midshipman. The Douglas-Morris roll identifies 10 further possible recipients as being ‘verified aboard but not on roll’, including John Cremer, L.M. (Known with Sirius clasp) and Edmund Sheeny (Royal Naval Museum, with Sirius clasp).

John Cremer is verified on board the Sirius at Trafalgar in the Admiralty Claimants’ list with a note ‘Allowed’ initialled ‘T.B.M.’ (for Thomas Byam Martin, of the Flag Officers Committee) and in the remarks column ‘Thos. Cramer’ to indicate that he was mustered in that name. Indeed, it is under the name of Thomas Cramer that he is verified as being aboard the Sirius in the muster rolls for the period covering both the Trafalgar and Sirius clasps. This in turn probably explains the minor correction made to his surname on the medal. Sold with copied muster rolls and London Gazette action report.

Sirius at Trafalgar

The Sirius, with the Euryalus, Naiad, and Phoebe, as ‘the eyes of the fleet,’ did good service in reconnoitring the hostile fleets prior to Trafalgar, during which she was chased and fired upon by one of the enemy’s advanced ships, but, crowding sail, effected her escape. She was present, to windward of the weather column, in the great battle of the 21st October, 1805, but was not actually engaged. Her surviving officers and crew, however, received the medal and clasp on its issue in 1848.

Sirius attacks a French flotilla and captures the corvette Bergère near Civita Vecchia

On 17 April 1806, while cruising near Civita Vecchia, on the west coast of Italy, Captain William Prowse, of the 36-gun frigate Syrius, learnt that a flotilla of French vessels was about to sail that morning for Naples. He immediately went in search of the enemy and in the afternoon found the flotilla lying to in a compact order near a shoal, awaiting his attack. The flotilla consisted of the corvette Bergère, of eighteen twelve-pounders and a thirty-six pounder carronade, three brigs, a bomb vessel with two heavy mortars, a cutter, and three gun ketches, carrying altogether ninety-seven guns, several of them of heavy calibre. Soon after sunset Sryius got within range of the enemy, about two leagues from the mouth of the river Tiber, and at 7 p.m. opened fire. A spirited action a pistol shot distance continued for two hours, when the Commodore’s ship Bergère hailed to say she had surrendered. Some of the other French vessels were badly damaged and had ceased firing but Sirius, herself badly damaged in the rigging, was unable to pursue the rest of the flotilla which made off. The casualties aboard Syrius were quite severe and included Captain Prowse’s nephew, Master’s Mate William Adair, and eight seamen killed, and three officers and seventeen men wounded, nine of them very severely. For this action Captain Prowse received a vase of 100 guineas from the Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund.