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A Northumberland Hero of Trafalgar - Admiral Collingwood Medal, 1805
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A Northumberland Hero of Trafalgar - Admiral Collingwood Medal, 1805

Measurements: Diameter: 38mm



Provenance: Gift of Earl Percy (1785- 1847) to Sir David Smith (1764-1837)

White metal. The obverse featuring a uniformed three-quarter facing bust of the Vice-Admiral, inscribed ADMIRAL LORD COLLINGWOOD. Contained in its original case and and accompanied by its contemporay certificate pasted into the hinged led; viz ‘MEDAL / IN HONOR OF / Admiral Lord Collingwood / OBVERSE / A strong Likeness ogf his Lordsgip, taken from the only correct Portrait in the Kingdom / REVERSE / A Representation of the Line of the Combined Fleets of France and Spain, with  the Manner of Attack by the English, in the battle of Trafalgar. - Legend, ‘His Country’s future Hope.’/ Exerge, Trafalgar, Victory, October 21, 1805.’ The reverse of the certificate with manuscript inscribed in ink ‘Earl Percy / to / D.W. Smith.’

Cuthbert Collingwood’s promotions followed closely those of his friend Lord Nelson from their first acquaintance in early life. At Trafalgar ‘Old Cuddy’ was second-in-command and led the lee column into the attack. Having recently been careened, his flagship, Royal Sovereign (100-guns), outran the rest of the British fleet. As she approached the Franco-Spanish line, she came under fire from Fougueux (74-guns), Indomptable (80-guns), San Justo (74-guns), and San Leandro (64-guns), before breaking the line just astern of Admiral Alava's flagship Santa Ana into which she fired a devastating double-shotted raking broadside. At the conclusion of his active career Collingwood retired to his Northumberland property at Morpeth where he enjoyed working in his garden and clearing the view to the river in order to established what he called his ‘quarterdeck walk’. He was buried alongside Nelson in St. Paul’s Cathedral on his death in 1810.

Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland, K.G., P.C. (1785- 1847), was styled Earl Percy until 1817. As a local magnate Percy evidently enjoyed the Trafalgar success of a Northumberland man, and promoted it by gifting the present medal to his father’s newly appointed land agent, David William Smith, who also had family roots in the county.

Sir David William Smith (1764-1837) 1st Baronet, was the land agent of the 2nd Duke of Northumberland from 1804. Hitherto he had served as an Ensign in the 5th (Northumberland) Regiment of Foot at Detroit. In the 1790s he held important posts in the administration of Upper Canada and acquired a sizeable land holding including much of the original city of Toronto. In 1802, he returned to England and began a second career as property manager for the Duke of Northumberland. He was made a baronet in 1821, and died near Alnwick in 1837.