The Maclaine Family Medals

Date of Auction: 17th September 2020

Sold for £2,400

Estimate: £800 - £1,200

Captain Murdoch Maclaine, 20th Foot, the only British officer to be killed at the battle of Maida, 4 July 1806

An attractive framed portrait of Maclaine in the uniform of the 20th Foot, approximately 190mm x 140mm, in oils on wooden panel with manuscript note pasted to the reverse, gilt wood and plaster frame, much loss to gilt plaster-work on frame, otherwise good condition £800-£1,200


The manuscript note to the reverse of the panel reads:

‘Extract from a letter of Capt. Duncan MacGregor of 78th Regt - in August 1806 to a relation of his own - with account of Battle of Maida. “I had almost forgot to mention the circumstance attending the death of Capt. Murdoch Maclaine of the 20th Regt. - the brother of Mrs Wood - His company as I mentioned before with part of the Corsicans first began the attack; he had command of Coy. The enemy were pretty strong, he advanced up the hill upon them & commenced his fire. The Corsicans after firing sometime began to give way & the 20th company were waiting there when he ran forward in front & called to his men to come on, at this instant he was fired at from the wood & shot through the heart. - This was a young man not to be met with among thousands, for even the best of people in this world have enemies but poor Maclaine had no acquaintance who was not soon his sincere friend; he was a very pleasant fellow in private life & as brave an officer as ever drew a sword - he fell universally regretted by the whole army. Give my consolations to Mrs Woods for the severe loss she has met with.”’

Murdoch Maclaine was born on 13 January 1777, 3rd son of Gillean Maclaine of Scallasdale, Isle of Mull, and a twin with his brother Archibald, later General, K.C.B., the ‘Hero of Matagorde’. His youngest brother John became a Major in the 73rd Foot and was killed in action at the battle of Waterloo; whilst his fourth brother, Hector, served with the 57th Foot in the Peninsula, won a Gold Medal at the battle of Nivelle and became a Colonel.

“Captain Murdoch Maclaine was a most promising officer, brave to a fault. At the battle of Maida, under Sir John Stuart, he was captain in the 20th regiment, and after several acts of personal valour, was killed on that field; and it may be worthy of remark, that he was the only officer killed on the side of the victorious British on that day.”