A Fine Pair of Percussion Duelling or Target Pistols by Purdey. 16 ½” overall, 10” sighted octagonal 50 bore lightly swamped, sighted barrel, rifled with 12 grooves, signed ‘J. PURDEY, 314 1/2 OXFORD STREET LONDON’ on the top flat, case-hardened breech inlaid with platinum line, pierced platinum plug with back sight, stamped with the serial number beneath and the barrelsmith's initials 'JP', the other barrel smooth 38 bore signed ‘J. PURDEY, 314 1/2 OXFORD STREET LONDON’, scroll engraved case hardened tangs, signed case hardened locks with slide safety, blued set triggers. Black lacquered ebonised half stocks, chequered butts, engraved steel mounts including blued trigger guards decorated with trophies of arms on the bows, case hardened trigger plates with scallop shell finials, case hardened oval butt caps, blued fore end caps with sunburst decoration. Silver escutcheons with the owner’s crest engraved over the initials 'SLS', silver barrel bolt escutcheons.
Numbered 1840 and 1841 for 1830.
These guns retain virtually all of their original finish. One of the earliest new pattern Butt Pistols and possibly the second earliest pairs with black stocks. Purdey often supplied pistols with two sets of barrels at this time, one smooth bore for duelling and a rifled pair for target shooting, this may be why this pair now has odd barrels.
Purdey have confirmed these pistols were ordered in 1829 and made for S. Lyne Stephens. They were supplied to him on 31st March 1830 with black stocks for £52 10s.
They come with a copy of Purdey’s Record book entry and ‘The Strange History of the Lyne Stephens Fortune’.
Stephen Lyne-Stephens (4 October 1801 – 28 February 1860) was an English Tory politician who represented Barnstaple before the 1832 Reform Act. After inheriting a family fortune from glass manufacture in Portugal, he was later reputed to be the richest commoner in England. Lyne-Stephens was returned as Member of Parliament for Barnstaple in 1830. His father had paid over £5000 for his election which was in support of political reform. On 15 November 1830, Stephens was one of a group of right wing Tories who voted against the government and ended the rule of the Duke of Wellington. Following the political excitement that led to the 1831 Reform Election, Stephens decided not to defend his seat. He concentrated his activities on hunting and shooting. In 1832 he was invited to stand for Liskeard but withdrew his name at the last minute. He moved to Melton Mowbray which he considered excellent hunting and riding country.
In 1837 Stephens married French ballerina Yolande Duvernay. He bought Lynford near Thetford in 1856, intending to develop its 8,000 acres (32 km2) with mansion house, parkland and lake as a hunting retreat, and commissioned the architect William Burn to refurbish it. He was High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1858.
His death in 1860 set off a frenzy of fortune hunters who went so far as to tamper with their family trees in order to bolster their claims to the estate. The fortune had been amassed by William Stephens of Cornwall, an illegitimate child born in 1731. He started a glass factory in Portugal with his brother and members of the related Lyne family. Stephens had influential political connections in Portugal, exempting his business from taxes.
Reference: L. Patrick Unsworth, The Early Purdeys, 1996, p.132., stated as '...Ordered with black stock for £52 10s'.