A Collection of Medals to the 23rd Foot Royal Welsh Fusiliers

Date of Auction: 27th February 2019


Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000

An unusual Waterloo medal awarded to Captain H. S. Blanckley, 23rd Foot, who served in the Peninsula and was employed as a military spy in Spain

Waterloo 1815 (Capt. H. S. Blanckley, 23rd Regiment Foot, R.W.F.) fitted with replacement silver clip and silver bar suspension, edge bruising and light contact marks, otherwise better than very fine £5,000-£6,000


Provenance: Gaskell Collection 1910 and Mackenzie Collection 1934. Another medal named ‘Captain H. S. Blankley, 23rd Foot’ (note spelling of surname and differing regimental style) was sold in these rooms in December 2002. Interestingly, the Mackenzie collection also contained two Waterloo medals to another officer of the 23rd, E. T. Ellis, one as a Volunteer and one as a Lieutenant.

Henry Stanyford Blanckley was born in 1785, eldest son of Henry Stonyford Blanckley, an important diplomat and Consul-General at Algiers for many years and known to have associated with Admiral Nelson. He was appointed Ensign in the 23rd Foot on 16 October 1805, being promoted to Lieutenant on 31 July 1806, and to Captain on 21 May 1812. He served at Martinique in 1809, and in the Peninsula with the 1/23rd Foot, December 1810 to September 1811, including the Actions at Redhina, Olivencia, first siege of Badajoz and the battle of Albuhera. In the period from October 1811 to September 1813, he is noted as being ‘On Particular Service’. Although listed for ‘reduction’ in 1814, he was placed on the Staff and served as a Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General in North America from 23 September 1814, and in the same capacity at Waterloo. Promoted to Brevet Major in July 1817, he transferred to the 13th Light Dragoons in 1819 and accompanied that regiment to India. He was drowned on 2 November 1819, in a boating accident on the Cauveryparck tank along with another officer and their female companion. A memorial was erected by his brother officers in Ranipet Cemetery, North Arcot, India.

The term ‘On Particular Service’ was a commonly used euphemism to describe spying. Indeed, a series of letters is known to exist, written by and to Blanckley concerning his military career, especially his service as a military spy for the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsula War in Spain. His services in Spain are summarised in two reports: one entitled ‘Diario de noticias de los movimientos de los enemigos...’ documents his spying between December 1812 and May 1813; the other is an ‘Account of the strategems at Truxilo against General Foy after the taking of Badajoz’, the text of which has been copied into a small black pocket notebook by Blanckley’s nephew or niece. Also a quantity of letters from Blanckley, written between 1813 and 1818, to high-ranking official such as Lord Fitzroy Somerset, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Henry Torrens, Lord Rowland Hill, Sir Benjamin Bloomfield, Sir Edward Pakenham, Sir John Sherbrooke, Sir Edward Barnes, and Lord Robert Castlereagh, mainly seeking compensation/pension and promotion to consulship in return for his Peninsula service.