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An 18th Century Dragoon Guards Colonel’s Gold Mourning Ring, 1785
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An 18th Century Dragoon Guards Colonel’s Gold Mourning Ring, 1785

Measurements: Size L



18 carat gold and black enamel. Memorial ring inscribed 'Genl. Philip Honeywood, Died 20 Feb 1785’. Duty mark for 1 December 1784-85. Weight 4.6g approx.

General Philip Honeywood (1710-1785) was reportedly a giant of a man for his time standing six foot three inches. He was commissioned Cornet in the 11th Dragoons in 1735 and in 1742, as a Major in the 3rd Dragoons, took part in the Flanders campaign during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). On 26 June 1743 he ‘displayed signal gallantry’ at the Battle of Dettingen - where memorably King George II became the last British monarch to lead troops in battle. Honeywood received five wounds, and being believed dead was stripped by plunderers, before being found and brought in after six hours. Having recovered from his wounds he fought the French at Fontenoy on 11 May 1745.

Following the outbreak of the Jacobite Rebellion, the 3rd Dragoons (or ‘King’s Own Dragoons’) were recalled to England and stationed in the defence of London. On 6 December the rebel Scots army began its retreat from Derby and the 3rd Dragoons now under Honeywood’s command joined the Duke of Cumberland’s pursuit. On the 19th after a ten hour march from Wigan, Honeywood’s dragoons clashed with the rebel rearguard under Lord George Murray at Clifton Moor, Lancashire. Honeywood’s men dismounted and fired a volley or two at the Highlanders concealed behind hedgerows, and fell back a few paces. The Highlanders taking it as a sign of retreat charged and a fierce hand to hand combat ensued. Honeywood, leading from the front, was again cut down, and on this occasion lost his sword to the Chief of the Macpherson clan. His battered body was taken to Howgill Castle, Westmoreland, which he had inherited from his mother’s family.  

Upon his recovery he received rapid promotion. During the Seven Years war (1757-63) he commanded a brigade of cavalry under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, and particularly distinguished himself at the Battle of Warburg he led his own regiment 4th Horse, and routed the enemy many of whom were drowned trying to cross the Dymel river. During his career he received a total of twenty-three broadsword wounds and wounds from two musket balls which were never removed. He was latterly Governor of Hull and the subject of an impressive equestrian portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. He was Member of Parliament for Appleby from 1754 to 1784. In 1782, he was appointed to the colonelcy of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, which he held until his death at his seat Marks Hall, Coggeshall, Essex.

Canon, R. (1847) ‘Historical Record of the Third Or King's Own Regiment of Light Dragoons’, London.
Williams, G. (1908) ‘The historical records of the Eleventh Hussars, Prince Albert's Own’, London.