The Collection of Medals to Yeomen of the Guard formed by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Denny

Date of Auction: 8th May 2019

Sold for £2,400

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

The Army of India medal awarded to Sergeant-Major J. C. Montague, 11th Light Dragoons, later 16th Light Dragoons and Yeoman of the Guard; his likeness, painted in 1875 by Sir John Everett Millais is considered by many to be his finest portrait and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery

Army of India 1799-1826, 1 clasp, Bhurtpoor (J. Montague, 11th Lt. Dragns.) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming, contact marks, otherwise very fine £1,800-£2,200


Provenance: Sotheby July 1896; ‘The Gazette’, Nimrod Dix, December 1987; Dix Noonan Webb, April 2006.

John Charles Montague was born at Greenwich, Kent, and enlisted into the 11th Light Dragoons on 15 October 1822, at the age of 19 years. He was at that time a National Schoolmaster and volunteered for a bounty of two pounds and twelve shillings. He served with the regiment in India and was present at the siege and capture of Bhurtpoor, where he ‘volunteered for the storming party’. He transferred to the 16th Lancers in December 1837, and with that regiment served throughout the campaign in Afghanistan in 1838 & ‘39, and at the assault and capture of Ghuznee (Medal); in the action at Maharajpoor in December 1843 (Bronze Star), and at Aliwal and Sobraon in 1846 (Medal with clasp). He was discharged on 26 January 1847, in consequence of his being unequal to the active duties of a Dragoon.

Montague received his L.S. & G.C. medal in October 1847 and was appointed a Yeoman of the Guard in the same year, eventually rising to the rank of Sergeant-Major. He was present at the wedding of the Prince of Wales in March 1863, and at the inspections by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1874 and the Prince of Wales in 1875. His portrait, “Yeoman of the Guard”, painted in 1875, by Sir John Everett Millais is held in the National Portrait Gallery, which, according to Millais’ entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, ‘with his age-worn face and uniform of scarlet and gold, is strong in character, and perhaps the artist’s most splendid effort as a colourist.’

Montague, who was the only Yeoman of the Guard confirmed as being entitled to the Ghuznee Medal and also the last man in the Guard to wear the Army of India Medal, died at Brighton on 16 May 1878.

Sold with copied discharge papers and other research.