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Vice Admiral Sir James Saumarez - A Georgian Toothpick Case, 1806-14
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Vice Admiral Sir James Saumarez - A Georgian Toothpick Case, 1806-14

Measurements: Length: 6.8cm (2.65in)



Oak toothpick case of plain rectangular form, the hinged lid fitted with a mirror, and the interior applied with a gold plaque, inscribed, ‘Gift of Vice Admiral Sir Jas. Saumarez’

Admiral Sir James Saumarez (1757-1836), 1st Baron de Saumarez, was a scion of an old Guernsey family with a strong tradition of naval service. When young he distinguished himself in the attack on Charleston, South Carolina and while in command of the 74-gun Russell served with elan at Admiral Sir George  Rodney’s victory over de Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782. On the latter occasion he brought the Russell about from the van and resumed the attack on the French an hour before Rodney signalled the rest of the van to do so. His manoeuvre allowed him to engage the de Grasse’s flagship Ville de Paris and greatly aided her eventual surrender. Saumarez was knighted early in the French Revolutionary War for the capture of  French frigate La Reunion while in command of H.M.S. Crescent in 1793. He was afterwards present at the actions off Lorient in 1794 and at St. Vincent  where his ship was third in the line and took possession of the Salvador del Mundo, 112-guns, in 1797. At the battle of the Nile (1798), where he was wounded, he was the senior captain and second-in-command to Nelson. He was employed in the blockade of Brest until 1800 and in the following year defeated a Franco-Spanish squadron off Algeciras, for which he was decorated and given a pension of £1200 p.a. After further blockade duty in the Channel, he took command in the Baltic, where he used his diplomatic skills to effect, being decorated by Bernadotte, the heir presumptive to the Swedish crown and formerly one of Napoleon’s Marshals, in 1814. Promoted Vice Admiral in 1806, he came Admiral in 1814, and was ennobled as Baron Saumarez in 1831.