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King John VI of Portugal’s Jewel or Portrait Badge, 1824
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King John VI of Portugal’s Jewel or Portrait Badge, 1824

Measurements: Overall: 40mm x 30mm



Gold and diamonds. King John VI of Portugal’s Jewel or Portrait Badge awarded to  the officers of three ships (two British and one French) for assistance during the April Revolt of 1824. Obverse with central bust of King John, encircled by a band of twenty-eight diamonds, superimposed on a pair of crossed fouled anchors; the reverse inscribed with the recipient’s name 'R. B. Hall / 4’ for Midshipman Richard Braithwaite Hall and denoting a Fourth Class award, encircled by embossed laurel branches and the name of the recipient’s ship, H.M.S. Lively; the whole surmounted by the Portuguese crown fitted with suspension loop and gold rope twist chain (length 50cm).

King John ‘The Clement’ (1767-1826) was one of Europe’s last absolute monarchs, and one whose reign was dogged by foreign interventions and the scheming of his family. The invasion of Portugal by Napoleon in 1807 caused him to flee to Brazil where his elder son later usurped him as Emperor. On his return to Portugal in 1821, his wife, Queen Carlota Joaquina of Spain, refused to sign a new liberal constitution. The Queen was stripped of her powers causing absolutists to coalesce around her and their younger son Infante Dom Miguel.

On 30 April 1824, Miguel, who had been appointed generalissimo of the Portuguese Army, moved against prominent liberals and incarcerated many subjects loyal to King John. Miguel then besieged the Palace of Bemposta, with the aim of deposing his father who was holed up inside with his British adviser General William Carr Beresford. Amid continuing disorder, the Portuguese diplomats sought promises of assistance from the British and French and at length the Portuguese Foreign Minister, the Duke of Palmela, was released and given refuge aboard H.M.S. Windsor Castle, 98-guns, or H.M.S. Lively, 40-guns, then stationed in the Tagus. On the 3 May further assurances were given through diplomatic channels that the British ships would give asylum to the King. At midday on 9 May, the King and his two daughters were received into the Windsor Castle from the Royal Barge. From this commanding position, the King was able to restore order: he deposed Miguel from his position as head of the army, ordered the release of political prisoners and the capture of the miguelistas. Once detained Miguel himself was forced into exile and embarked for France in the French frigate Pearl. Queen Carlota Joaquina, was placed under house arrest.

As a mark of gratitude the King rewarded the officers and midshipmen of the three foreign Men of War that had helped him reassert his authority with his rare portrait reward medal of 1824. The young recipient of the present award however did not have long to enjoy it.

Richard Braithwaite Hall (1808-1828) was the second son of Benjamin Edward Hall, D.L., J.P., and a kinsman of the Earls Fitzwilliam. Moreover the Hall family were the senior branch of the Fitzwilliam clan, taking their name from Hall Place, Co. Lincoln, ‘the last remnant of the ancient [Fitzwilliam] baronial estate’. On his mother’s side Midshipman Hall was connected to two very distinguished Royal Navy officers through his grandfather Admiral Richard Braithwaite (1728-1805) after whom he was named. Admiral Braithwaite was the elder first cousin of Nelson’s second-in-command at Trafalgar, Vice-Admiral Lord Cuthbert Collingwood. Indeed the cousins served eleven years together from 1761. Braithwaite himself benefitted early in his own career from the patronage another kinsman Admiral of the Fleet Sir Chaloner Ogle (c.1680-1750), vanquisher of the pirate Bartholomew Roberts and Commander in-Chief of the Jamaica Station.

After the affair at Lisbon, Hall continued in Lively on her mission to the Mediterranean to combat Algerine piracy, before returning to Devonport to refit in October of the same year. Midshipman Hall was afterwards appointed to H.M.S. Albion and latterly served in the 6-gun cutter H.M.S. Sylvia. He was lost at sea in 1828 together with ‘a brother officer and his boat’s crew, whilst surveying a sunken rock at the back of the Island of Jersey, aged 20.’ (Gentleman’s Magazine, 1828, Vol I., p.648)