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Royal Commission for Manning the Navy Despatch Box, 1859
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Royal Commission for Manning the Navy Despatch Box, 1859

Measurements: 14.5cm (5.7in) x 41cm (16in) x 28 (11in)



Pine covered in stained ram’s skin; the hinged lid fitted with a brass handle to ensure the box is locked before carrying; the leading edge embossed with original bearer’s name ‘The Right Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P.’ and further applied with a brass plaque engraved ‘Admiral of the Fleet / Sir Arthur Fanshawe, G.C.B., G.C.V.O.’. Fitted with a Mordan & Co. lock to the front. Complete with key. The interior stamped with the maker’s details of  H.M. Stationer Wickwar & Co., 6 Poland Street, London.

Edward Cardwell, 1st & last Viscount Cardwell of Ellerbeck, P.C., F.R.S. (1813-1886) was the Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford educated Liberal Secretary of State for War 1868-74, who is best known to history for his Army reforms which included  the abolition of flogging and the purchase of officer’s commissions. He was a life long political ally of fellow Liverpool born William Gladstone. In 1859 as a member of the Royal Commission for Manning the Navy, Cardwell helped shape the series of Naval Discipline Acts that were designed to attract volunteers by humanizing discipline and living conditions on the lower deck. The Commission also addressed the problem of manning on mobilization by the formation of the Royal Naval Reserve in 1859.

Sir Arthur Dalrymple Fanshawe, G.C.B., G.C.V.O. (1844-19) was the nephew of Viscount Cardwell and evidently inherited the present despatch box. He was the son of Admiral Edward Gennys Fanshawe and his wife Jane (1816-1900), daughter of Liverpool merchant John Cardwell (b.1781). Fanshawe entered the Navy in 1862 and rose to become Commander-in-Chief Australia Station. In this capacity he was involved in concluding the naval agreement under which the Royal Australian Navy was formed. He was afterwards Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth and became Admiral of the Fleet on 30 April 1910, hoisting his Flag in H.M.S. Victory, and hauling it down again the same day, before handing over to his successor. In 1910 he served as a member of the Marquess of Northampton’s Mission to Foreign Courts to announce King George V’s accession to the Throne.