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A George V Regimental Presentation Silver Figure of Lord Seaforth, 1912
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A George V Regimental Presentation Silver Figure of Lord Seaforth, 1912

Measurements: Height overall: 48cm (19in)

£7200

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Silver. Cast from a model by George Halliday based upon Sir Thomas Lawrence’s full length portrait of Francis, Lord Seaforth. The figure secured to an ogee shaped mahogany base applied silver plaque inscribed, 'Presented to / E.G. Hay, Esq. / on his marriage, by the officers / of the Seaforth Highlanders / June 11th 1912’. The retaining between figure and base engraved with the GR cypher of George V, Seaforth regimental motto ‘Cuidich 'n Righ’ (Help the King) and number in the line ’78’. Height of silver figure: 34.5cm (13in). Maker’s mark of Elkington & Co. Ltd. Hallmarked 1912.

Francis Humberston Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth (1754-1815), Chief of the Mackenzie Clan was known as MacCoinnich Bodhar (‘Deaf Mackenzie’ in Gaelic). As a young midshipman in the Royal Navy, he lost his hearing to scarlet fever and was speech impaired, forcing him to quit the Service; but, having learnt to ‘talk with his fingers’, he went on to pursue social, intellectual and political ambitions.

He was elected Member of Parliament for the County of Ross and, in 1787, offered to raise a regiment from his own estates to be commanded by himself. The Government declined his offer but accepted his assistance in procuring recruits for the 74th and 75th Regiments. On 19 May 1790 he renewed his offer to the Government who again declined his services. When war broke out with Revolutionary France in 1793 he offered for a third time and was empowered as Lieutenant-Colonel-Commandant to raise a Highland Battalion to be called the 78th Highland Regiment, known as Seaforth’s Highlanders. In 1797 he was created Lord Seaforth and Baron Mackenzie of Kintail in the peerage of Great Britain, and later rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1808. Lord Seaforth was Governor Barbados from 1800–06, during which period he reformed slavery on the island, promising death for the killing of a slave (hitherto there had been a fine of 15 shillings that was rarely imposed) and easing discrimination against free blacks. Subsequently, he held high office in British Guyana. Seaforth was also a botanist, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Linnean Society.

Seaforth's closing years were darkened by calamities. Mismanagement of his estates and his own extravagance involved him in embarrassments with his clansmen who offered to pay his debts if he would come and live among them. Meanwhile, three of his sons died. The fourth, William Frederick, a promising M.P. for Ross, died, likewise unmarried, in 1814.  In 1815 the Seaforth title became extinct; the chieftainship passed to Mackenzie of Allengrange; the estates went by act of entail to Seaforth's eldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Frederica Mackenzie (1783-1862), who married, first, Admiral Sir Samuel Hood.

George Halliday (fl 1868-1912) was born in Scotland and worked as a medallist, sculptor and chaser in Sheffield. Periodically he produced figures for Elkington & Co., the Birmingham based art bronze founders, silversmiths and electroplaters. His known designs included military and historical figures, including equestrian works in bronze and silver.

Major Edward Gilbert Hay (1883-1963), the recipient of this presentation piece, was commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders in 1905. He was married at Aberdeen to the daughter of the laird of Balmedie, ‘in the picturesque full Highland costume of the Seaforth Highlanders’ as the local press put it. On the outbreak of the First World War he deployed with the 2nd Seaforths to the Western Front in the 4th Division of the British Expeditionary Force, and was immediately engaged in the fighting at Le Cateau. The 2nd Seaforths’ commanding officer Lt Col. Sir Evelyn Bradford, Bart., was killed in action on 14 September, resulting in Hay’s temporary command of the battalion from 22 September to 16 October 1914. The battalion War Diary records Hay afterwards returned to the command of D Company but was invalided on 8 November. The battalion War Diary further records Hay’s best man, Captain Hugh Maitland Spencer, commanding C Company, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, was among the fallen in April 1915.
 

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