Lot 193
  • 193

Fletcher, Thomas.

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  • Fletcher, Thomas.
Collection of material belonging to able seaman Thomas Fletcher, comprising: 


Able Seaman Thomas Fletcher
Thence by family descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

i) Manuscript booklet, predominantly in Fletcher's hand recognisable from lot 192, comprising: the "General Order" dated H.M.S. Euryalus, 22 October 1805, printed in the London Gazette on 6 November; a list of those killed and wounded at Trafalgar; "The Battle of Trafalgar" by Joseph Dixon (see lot 192); a poem entitled "A New Song" celebrating the British naval victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Dardanelles, 19 February 1807 ("Come All you valliant seamen bold that to brittons ile belong ... To see the mehomet squadron blown up in the Air"); another poem on victory over the Ottomans ("At Constantinople we Arived our Colours are Displayd ... And now unto the Dardenels my boyes we will bid Adew"); and dispatches describing the victory at Trafalgar; 28 pages, 4to, stitched with string, unbound, some leaves detached, some leaves missing

This notebook of Thomas Fletcher is closely connected to the journal he kept at the time of Trafalgar and contains further examples of the patriotic verse by seamen in which he had a strong interest.

ii) Boulton's Trafalgar Medal, 1805, in white metal, as given by Matthew Boulton to seamen and marines present at the battle.
Obverse: uniformed bust of Nelson left; Reverse: a view of the opening stages of the battle; edge lettered to the heroes of trafalgar from m: boulton., 48 mm; slight edge damage but the medal otherwise in good very fine condition, with a removable hinged gilt metal watch-tye case, this with the suspension loop and one glass now missing 

The medals were produced and distributed at Boulton's personal expense. It is probable that 16,163 were struck. Fletcher records receiving his medal in his journal (lot 192).

iii) Shaving box (135 x 80 x 35mm). Naively produced piece of treen (mahogany and oak), name engraved on cover, original mercurial gilded mirror; losses to interior, residue of lining paper.

iv) Ships' biscuit (120mm diameter), portion broken.

The remarkable survival of Fletcher's ships' biscuit is a reminder of one of the less edifying aspects of life in an eighteenth century warship. On being presented with a similar biscuit for the first time, Jeffrey Raigersfield, a midshipman in Mediator, noted how it "was so light that when you tapped it upon the table, it fell almost into dust, and thereout numerous insects, called weevils, crawled; they were bitter to the taste, and a sure indication that the biscuit had lost its nutritious particles; if, instead of these weevils, large white maggots with black heads made their appearance, then the biscuit was considered to be only in its first state of decay; these maggots were fat and cold to the taste, but not bitter..."