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Thread: British P-1821 Cavalry Sword (circa 1845)

  1. #1
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    British P-1821 Cavalry Sword (circa 1845)

    This sword was just found at a local outdoor Antique Flea Market. It was very dirty with no scabbard and a sharpened blade that had a number of nicks. It seemed tight and intact with fish or ray skin grip and triple silver wire. It is a Wilkinson, with the beautiful deep acid etching that Wilkinson seems to have perfected. I got it for $100, so was pleased as I left. Later, the sword cleaned up great. There are a couple of, I think/hope interesting things about the sword. The first is that it has the original Officer's family crest and initials (lion demi-rampant E.J.H.). Second, having just read Matt Easton's article on the P-1845 (Wilkinson, Sword sharpening, Proofing, and comparison to the P-1821), I recognized that this sword had both a Wilkinson proof disc and the Wilkinson Name and Address on the sword blade, not the riccasso. As I understand it this dates production to a very narrow time frame of 1845 +/- one year. It does not have a number or center of percussion marking on the edge. The third interesting thing about the sword has to do with the expert sharpening and the nicks on the blade. I am used to dealers claiming that blade nicks signify battle damage. I think of them as more suggestive of grandchildren playing pirates with an old sword. I saw the nicks immediately, but did not realize until I got the sword home and began to clean it that the nicks were all made prior to the last sharpening of the blade. There was no displaced metal around the nicks, and extra care had been taken around the nicks to smooth them as much as possible without hurting the integrity of the blade. I sort of backed into thinking that maybe this was actual battle damage during the period of original use.
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  2. #2
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    Great find Charlie and what a bargain! The hunt is now on to find E.J.H, let’s hope he turns up.
    Just been through Hart’s for 1848 ( which covers your assumed time frame for cornets joining 1845 ish) no E.J.H’s that I can see in Light Dragoons or Lancers Lists, I’ll leave The Yeomanry to you....
    Last edited by Ben Bevan; 07-17-2022 at 04:57 AM.

  3. #3
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    If you do come up with a name it’s worth a look at myfamilysilver.com , they have a very good crest finding search, based on the epic tome by Fairbairn.

  4. #4
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    Charlie that's a wonderful sword, I have a HC officers Wilkinson with similar etching and date but sadly without a family crest or initials. Hopefully you find your man in the army lists.
    I have found this site useful: https://www.thepeerage.com/

  5. #5
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    Don't forget officers in the East India Company, which won't be listed in Hart's. I find editions of Allen's India mail helpful as they contain regimental news, as well as new cadets from Addiscombe arriving in India.

  6. #6
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    Yep, considered those too, he’s not in the Bengal list I have, don’t have similar for Madras or Bombay though.

  7. #7
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    Try here https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Indian_Army...line#1782-1859
    The East India Registry and Directories can be a pain to search through, but they have officer lists for Bengal, Bombay and Madras cavalry, and sometimes some Irregular cavalry as well.
    Last edited by MikeShowers; 07-17-2022 at 03:51 PM.

  8. #8
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    Looking at the photos I see some wear from repeat sharpening. The possible reason for not having a scabbard could be it had a leather scabbard for India which retains the blade edge.
    The officer may well have some excellent military history.

  9. #9
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    A few observations. The surname Hutchinson will sometimes use this crest. Also, officers didn't always have their initials listed, so don't discard instances where it's just E. plus an "H" surname.

  10. #10
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    Mike/Will, given where this sword is located, is there any possibility it’s from an early Canadian Regiment? I’m not too familiar with your Mounted History.

  11. #11
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    Gentlemen, I am overwhelmed by your kindness in suggesting avenues for researching the initials. More so for the time that several have spent looking at available lists. Please accept my gratitude and know that I am following up on your suggestions. I will report any progress in identifying the initial owner of the sword.

    Will, I had assumed but did not actually know that the blade had likely been sharpened at least twice (maybe more). The first would have likely occurred in preparation for action in the field, and an additional sharpening following the action to deal with the blade indents. The use of a leather scabbard is certainly a possibility to associate with the current lack of a scabbard. I know from prior conversation on this board that in addition to Anglo-Indian use, Leather scabbards were also issued for use in the Crimea. The advantage as I understand it is that leather is less likely to dull the blade, while the disadvantage is that when left in a leather scabbard the sword is more vulnerable to rust.

    Best, Charlie

  12. #12
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    A few more to play with: Hill, Hunter, Holmes, Hare...

  13. #13
    Edmund Junius Hardcastle (1824-1858), Bengal Army. See: Memoir of Joseph Hardcastle (1860), p. 361, and other entries in Google Books under EJH's full name. Cheers!

  14. #14
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    He was Captain in the 53rd Bengal Native INFANTRY and no Hardcastle with a Demi-Lion crest, so an unlikely candidate I think.

  15. #15
    P.S. Also entries under "E J Hardcastle", "Lieut(enant) Hardcastle", and "Capt(ain) Hardcastle" plus "53rd Native Infantry"; e.g., Sir George Lawrence's Reminiscences, and Allen's Indian Mail (1848) re his capture of a notorious criminal.

  16. #16
    Good luck finding an alternative!

  17. #17
    P.S. Anyone who thinks that infantry officers didn't prefer and use cavalry sabres needs to do some research!

  18. #18
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    For years I have collected British martial flintlock and percussion weapons. Though I have accumulated a number of British swords over time, it is only recently that I would dignify this process by using the term 'Collection'. This discussion highlights a realization that imposes itself on almost any Collector; History is complex, never say 'never' and the devil is often in the details. Swords are no different in this respect from the weapons that served with them. Finding a Pattern sword with initials and a crest is wonderful, but it opens a rare door into a world that is both richly woven and complex. I have only one other sword with this feature. After a period of time and with the help of friends, it turned out to have been purchased by a young Officer who went on to become a Major General.

    I guess, that there are a number of points of reference, most of which are noted above through your kindness and interest. The trick (work) is to try to get as many as possible to line up and to form a narrative that is plausible. 'Edmund Junius Hardcastle' does not necessarily line up all the dots, but he is the best candidate until a better one emerges. I remain grateful for your time and consideration. I will continue to look at and think about the resources that you have noted for me. I have work to do to try to line up as much as possible. I welcome your help and consideration.
    Best, Charlie

  19. #19
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    I had a Wilkinson sword years ago with the same looking "J" but this can be misleading. The Wilkinson blade proof page clearly stated it was a "T". I googled the officer and again it was T for Thomas Leigh Hare.
    The initials could be ETH.

  20. #20
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    Here's the picture of Thomas Leigh Hare initials
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  21. #21
    Couldn't find any ETH, Will, but found this: Edward James Hughes (57th Bengal Native Infantry), and the Hughes family has the demi-lion! Cheers.

  22. #22
    P.S. He was subsequently a captain (resigned commission in 1862) in the 6th Lancashire Artillery Volunteer Corps. Don't have time for more info, if any.

  23. #23
    Additional Hardcastle info: his mother was Elizabeth Augusta Smith of London, and the Smiths of London had the lion emblem. If he's the one, perhaps he chose that
    martial emblem because he didn't like paternal emblem.

  24. #24
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    How long is the blade?
    Out of interest I have an officers 4th DG sword with blade of same dimension as a 1845p infantry sword though has owners family crest and 4DG with battle honours etched on the blade.

  25. #25
    Capt. Hughes, attached to H.M. 32nd Regt., was mortally wounded while successfully leading an attack on an enemy outpost at Lucknow in 1857. (Numerous references to this.)

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