An 1805 Pattern Midshipman’s Sword owned by Joseph William Crabb of HMS Unite.
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36” overall, 32” fullered blade with traces of etched decoration including scrolling foliage and crowned GR cypher's, the back edge of the forte etched with owner's details, ‘JOSEPHPH WILLIAM CRABBE HMS UNITE’ regulation copper gilt stirrup hilt, 1827 pattern wire bound fishskin grip. Contained in its copper gilt mounted leather scabbard, the locket with raised shield escutcheon signed 'DRURY, 52 STRAND LONDON' the locket with raised shield escutcheon signed 'DRURY, 52 STRAND LONDON'.
In good condition engraving worn, scabbard leather replaced.
This is a historically important sword and comes with a folder of research on Joseph Crabb, including letters from the National Maritime Museum Greenwich and Wilkinson Sword; these suggest that this sword was probably modified on Crabb's request whilst he was on the Reserve list. Rather than purchasing a new sword this one has been updated with a replacement grip of the 1827 pattern. The scabbard was repaired by Wilkinsons in the 1960's. It has also been suggested that Crabb's exploits form part of the basis for the Hornblower stories.
Provenance: Joseph William Crabb (the additional 'e' at the end of his name is attributed to an over zealous engraver) entered the Royal Navy on September 4th 1801 as a Midshipman, serving on board the Royal Sovereign, the 100 gun flagship of the channel fleet of Sir Henry Harvey, under Captain Baggett. He then served under various captains, mainly in the Mediterranean. In around 1807 he found himself serving on a frigate 'The Chiffonne' under a Captain P. Campbell. The pair transferred to another frigate, The Unite, upon which Crabb served until October 1815. In 1809 he was promoted to Lieutenant, and in 1810, whilst in pursuit of an enemy vessel he received a serious wound to the groin caused by a Langridge shot, an early type of canister shot firing approximately 1in. diameter iron balls, one of which remained lodged inside him for the rest of his life. Involved in the capture of numerous French vessels whilst commanding the Unite’s own boats he served on board as the senior Lieutenant until 1815, finishing his career on the Orontes under Captain Cochrane in 1816.
Because of Crabb's distinguished service he was placed on Reserve half pay, and in 1848 was awarded the Naval General Service Medal for actions carried out in 1811. Promoted to Commander in 1851 under the order of the Council, one of only 50 lieutenants to be honoured in this way, he remained on the Reserve list until his death in mid 1877.