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A South Africa 1853 Medal to HMS Castor
ELLIS. WILLIAM, Ordinary Seaman.
South Africa 1853 Medal to H.M.S. Castor
William Ellis does not seem to have signed for contracted service as he has no service papers available on the National Archives web-site.
The South Africa Medal roll states his 1853 medal being sent to HMS Majestic on 24th April 1856 He was also awarded the Baltic Medal for service on Majestic, this being sent to the ship 6th May 1857.
The Description Book entry for HMS Castor, shows the recipient as a 20 year old from Milton, near Gravesend, Kent – having served on HMS Ocean, Ganges and Ocean again, as a Boy 2nd Class. So I have assumed that he joined the Navy (at that time) on the 9th September 1847 aged 17 years, for his first period of service in HMS Ocean as the book states.
HMS Ocean 9th September 1847 to 10th January 1848
9th September - joined HMS Ocean the ordinary guard-ship at Sheerness dockyard fitted with 46 guns, Commanded by Captain George Thomas Gordon for Captain David Price, as Captain-Superintendent of Sheerness Dockyard
6th November – It was announced that Captain John Neale Nott was to be transferred from the Trafalgar to re-commission the Ocean as flag captain to the Port-Admiral Sir E. D. King. His official appointment was reported 31st December. 1848 10th January – HMS Ocean Paid off, her crew were to be transferred to the Ganges
HMS Ganges 11th January 1848 to 23rd April 1848
11th January – Joined HMS Ganges 84 guns 2nd rate wooden sail of 1821, as flag-ship of the Ordinary (reserve) and was commissioned as a seagoing ship with full armament, Commanded by Captain George Thomas Gordon.
11th January - The Ganges having been fitted out by the crew of the Ocean assisted by the yard-riggers, she was commissioned as temporary guard ship of the ordinary with the pendant of Captain Superintendant Price. She will have a complement of 433, the same number as was paid off from the Ocean. 1st March – Captain Henry Smith took over command.
HMS Ocean 24th April 1848 to 12th May 1849
24th April – Re-joined HMS Ocean Commanded by Captain John Neale Nott until May 48 and then by Captain George Augustus Elliot, the ship acting as the Sheerness Port flagship
April - Vice-Admiral the Hon. George Elliot C.B. is to succeed as Commander-in Chief at the Nore and his son Captain George August Elliot is to take over as his Flag-Captain. 9th November – A court-martial was held on the Ocean to try Daniel Noland a boy 1st class on a charge of stealing from on board the steam ship Meteor, when lying off the Piraeus, one thousand French dollars belonging to her Majesty. The prisoner was found guilty and was sentenced to two years imprisonment, to be mulcted of his pay now due to him and to be discharged with disgrace from her Majesty’s service.
HMS Castor 13th May 1849 to 12th February 1853
14th May 1849 - Joined HMS Castor, a wooden 26 gun 5th rate of 1832 Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham until paying off at Chatham) by Commodore Christopher Wyvill, acting as the flagship on the Cape of Good Hope station
18th May - The ship is in the process of being rigged and whilst getting up the foretopmast it slipped from its slings and was damaged when it came down on the deck, fortunately without injuring any of the men.
25th May - Continues to prepare her rigging for sea, and is making good internal fixings, whilst taking on board her sea stores, and preparing to take on board her ordnance and associated stores in the next week or so.
May – At Chatham being made ready to take up the position of Flag-ship on the Cape of Good Hope station, relieving the Southampton. Towed out by the steamer "Sampson", they reached Plymouth on Sunday, the 17th, and finally sailed for the Cape of Good Hope on Saturday, 23rd June, 23rd June – Sailed for the Cape with Mails for Madeira and Ascension as well as the Cape. 5th July – Called at Tenerife, leaving the next day 6th. 29th August – Arrived at the Cape.
Once again I am lucky to be able to draw on the first hand account in “Dhow Chasing in Zanzibar Waters and on the Eastern Coast of Africa” by Captain G. L. Sullivan, R.N. 2nd Edition of 1873”
The only problem is that this was written to illustrate the anti-slavery issue and he finishes with Castors involvement in the Kaffir war.
He writes –
“We arrived at the Cape on the 29th August, 1849. The "Castor" being detained at the Cape on account of the convict dispute in that colony, her boats were detached, under escort of H.M.S. "Dee”, to cruise in the Mozambique Channel for the suppression of the slave-trade. The boats consisted of the ship's pinnace and a barge, a private boat of the commodore, given him by the Imaum of Muscat, when previously on that station in command of the "Cleopatra."
With these boats hoisted inboard the "Dee," under the temporary command of Lieut. Crowder, sailed from Simons Bay, on the 1st October, for the Mozambique Channel and east coast of Africa. "We arrived, after a fortnight's passage, at St. Augustine's Bay, remaining there for two days for the purpose of watering the ship.
We sailed from St. Augustine's Bay for Angoxa (pronounced Angoza) on the 9th November, and anchored off that river on the morning of the 15th, when the boats were hoisted out, manned, and armed, in preparation for exploring the river the next day.
On the morning of the 16th November the boats of the "Castor" and "Dee" were manned and armed and preceded up the river Angoxa.
Our little fleet consisted of the following boats:- "Castor's" pinnace, Lieut. Campbell, myself, mid., and twenty men, with one 121b. gun; barge, second-master C. Albert, Patterson, mid., and fifteen men, with one 31b. gun; " Dees' " first paddle-box boat, J. T. Jones, second master, a mid., and about eighteen men, with one 18 pounder; "Dees' " second paddlebox boat, Dyer, master's assistant, and about eighteen men, with one 18 pounder ; gig, Lieut. Crowder, commanding expedition; cutter. Dr.
We proceeded up the river to ascertain if any slavers were in it or under the piratical slave fort of Angoxa, where the barracoons were continually kept full of slaves ready for shipment. We never thought of landing to destroy these barracoons, as was sometimes done on other parts of the coast, for it would have been out of the question with so small a force.
On the 23rd of November, leaving the barge with Albert and Patterson at Mafamale, we preceded in the pinnace to the south, anchoring under shelter of Hurd Island, another of the wooded banks in the Primeira group. The following morning we continued our course south, cruising between the islands
and the main-land until the 29th November, when we entered Quizungo river in search of water.
On the 1st December we anchored under Casuarena Island, and on tlie 3rd we returned to Mafamale, having seen nothing in the shape of a vessel of any kind since our departure. This was the sort of service in which for several months we were engaged with these boats.
At noon, on the 19th April, we sighted the "Castor," and at 3 p.m. we returned to the old ship, having been nearly seven months away from her; but notwithstanding this we all felt sorry to give up cruising in the boats.
On the 29th April the "Castor" anchored at Zanzibar.
From this time to February of the following year we continued to cruise on the coast, leaving it only once during that time to refit at the Mauritius in October
Sullivan goes on to say that about December out of our complement of 320 men, from which must be
deducted about 50 attached to the "Dart," her tender, we had 113 on the " sick-list," chiefly with diarrhoea and dysentery, from which we lost several men.
5th February 1851 arrived back at the Cape. On arriving here we found the Kaffir war broken out, and a naval brigade, to which I was attached, was landed from the ship at Buffalo river Mouth for service there; but as this does not come within the limits of my subject, I shall now bid adieu to the "Castor."”
21st September to January 1850 – At Simonsbay
18th December - Boats and armed parties from Castor taken by the troopship Dee to the river Angora where they attacked a slave ship and ‘barracoon’, setting both on fire.
February to April – Was spent in the Mozambique Channel and Mauritius
16 Mar 1850 - off Quillimane with the Flag Officer. Learned that the Pantaloon had detained 2 slave vessels and that there was therefore a large number of prospective slaves ashore awaiting shipment. Therefore cruised in the region of Quillimane and the River Olinda for about a month, in company with the Philantropo, a prize, used as a tender to the Castor. The Flag Officer, wishing to speak with the Dee and Pantaloon, left the ship to proceed by shore to join them at Ibo.
April – December 1850 – cruise along South African and South-East African coastlines searching every inlet, settlement and river for slave vessels and camps for where slaves were held; during this time she suffered badly from tropical illnesses – 22 men reported to have died
May – destroyed two slave camps (‘Baracoons’) at Masani and Kionga; this involved landing parties which set fire to buildings and dhows despite coming under sporadic fire.
July – At Zanzibar (reported that on sailing from Zanzibar the ship was crowded with livestock, several cows plus some pigs and sheep – all to serve as food for the next months – plus a gift for Commodore Wyvill in the shape of an Arab horse which the crew tried hard to teach how to chew tobacco and smoke....)
August – At Madagascar
September – In Mauritius
1st January - A ship's boat entered the Tejungo (Monega) River, in lat. 17° 17' S. long. 38° 5' E. On the 3rd Lieut. T.M. Campbell, and Lieut. J V C Reed, RM landed with a view to obtaining information from the local Macona tribe regarding the situation with the slave trade. Initially the tribesmen appeared friendly, but once in their village things turned unpleasant and the officers were kidnapped, along with a Krooman, who was acting as an interpreter. After a while it was agreed that they would be released in exchange for some rum, gunpowder and a musket etc. Having managed to speak with one or two of the members of the tribe through Mark Anthony, the interpreter, it was found that the chief did appear to be involved in the slave trade, but no slaves appear to be kept locally.
7th January - Off Cape Fitzwilliam the boats of the Castor, Orestes, and Dart were manned and armed and sent up the River Monega in order to obtain restitution for the actions of the Macona tribe a few days previously. However, on arriving at the village it was found to have been deserted by the able bodied tribesmen was burnt.
February 1851 – December – in Simons Bay. During this time - between March & November 1851 –
On the 11th February Sir Henry Smith was joined by 500 men sent by HMS Dee from Cape Town, including 70 marines and seamen from Castor in Simons Bay, who were placed in garrison in Fort Glamorgan at East London relieving a company of the 73rd foot.
General Sir Henry Smith later praised the “...conduct of the Royal Marines of Her Majesties Ship Castor under their officer Lieutenant Harris, attached to the 73rd, which merits my commendation...”. In addition a small brig as fitted out and named Pickle, was manned from the Castor made a number of anti-slaving cruises along the South African coast.
The Cape of Good Hope station reported – “On the 13th October the Apollo troop ship Commander Rawstone from England, arrived with cholera on board. She landed all her bad cases on a small island at Rio Grande. Several Deaths occurred before sailing but she is now quite healthy. On the 14th October the Pantaloon arrived here from England having touched at Pernambuco only for water. Mr Kelly, naval cadet, joined the Castor from her. She sailed for the cruising ground on the Mozambique on the 18th October. On the 23rd of October the Atholl troop ship arrived here from England, all well on board. Her troops were disembarked by the boats of the Castor and she will sail soon for Mauritius. Her Majesty’s ship Castor, 36, Commodore Wyvill is in Simons Bay and will not lift anchor until the convict agitation is over. (This was caused by the British government attempting to use South Africa for a Penal settlement, 282 convicts had been shipped out in the transport ship Neptune and the Cape was in a state of turmoil demanding their removal)
January to March – Based at Simons Bay, with Commodore Christopher Wyvill acting as senior officer Cape Station
26th February to 1st March – A party from the Castor attended the scene of the Birkenhead wreck and the Birkenhead survivors who had been picked up by the schooner Lioness, were transferred to the Castor when they reached Simonsbay.
4th April – Sailed on cruise to east coast ports, Mozambique and Mauritius
January and February – Remained in Simons Bay
Circa Aug 1852 is reported to have destroyed a slave vessel and a barracoon, (a prison for slaves pending their embarkation and transportation), regarding which the conduct of Commander Bunce, commanding officer, appears to have been the subject of correspondence between the British and Portuguese governments.
20th September – Returned Simons Bay
October and November – At Simons Bay
7th December – Sailed for England
20th December – At St Helena
26th December – At Ascension
27th January – Arrived back at Plymouth
28th January – Sailed for Chatham
4th February – Arrived at Chatham
12 February – paid off “...the pay clerks from the dockyard proceeded onboard at nine a.m. and paid the ship off; the ships complement of men including Marines was 350; at twelve o’clock the principal part of the crew left Chatham for Portsmouth...Commodore Wyvill distributed Long Service and Good Conduct medals”
13th February – Sheerness reported – “The steam-tender Adder arrived here yesterday from Chatham, she had on board from 45 to 50 seamen, paid off from the Caster frigate, Commodore C. Wyvill, under the superintendence of Captain Peter Richards of Chatham Yard”.
“Commodore Wyvill distributed the Long Service and Good Conduct medals. The senior quarter-master received a Gold? medal, a gratuity of £30, with £5 per annum added to his pension. The crew with a few exceptions paid off in a very steady and well behaved manner. A great many of the seamen had previous to their being paid off, taken passages for Australia and the gold diggings, others say “We do not intend to enter the navy again, whilst we can get £4.10s per voyage from Sunderland, Shields or Newcastle to London, with 2lb, of good Beef, as much bread as we can eat and small stores besides”
“Very few of the Castor’s crew have volunteered for the service, five only for the Impericuse.”
Castor was also credited for and received prize money for, the following anti-slavery captures:
Multiple Dhows, names unknown - 21st December 1851, and 6th August, 1852
Dhow captured – 10th Dec. 1851
Dhow captured 14th Dec. 1851
Slave Dhow, name unknown, captured 12th Aug. 1852
Slave Dhow, name unknown, captured 21st Dec 1851
HMS Majestic 20th February 1854 to 15th May 1857
20th February 1854 – Joined HMS Majestic an 80 gun 2nd rate wooden screw of 1853, Commanded (from commissioning at Sheerness on the 10th February until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain James Hope, the Baltic fleet during the Russian War, then the Mediterranean
February 18, the press reported –“The Majestic at Sheerness has been put into commission since our last report, by Captain James Hope to join the Baltic fleet. Commander A. C. Gordon, Lieutenants J. S. Davison and C. A, Lodder and Mr. Roskilly Master, have also been appointed to her besides the other officers noted in our appointments. The Majestic is one of the experimental 80’s converted from sailing into screw ships. Captain Herriot, with one sergeant, one corporal and sixty-five privates of the Woolwich division of the Royal Marines have joined An increased number of engineers have been set on to forward the completion of her engines and machinery and she will be taken fairly in hand by the dockyard department on the completion of the Cressy.”
March 4th came – “The Majestic 80 guns, new screw steam-ship, has this day been put out of dry-dock for the purpose of being masted but will again be taken into dry-dock for her screw, gear etc. to be completed, her engines will be in a few days ready for trial.”
March 11th added – “The Majestic 81, Screw, 400-horse power, is ordered to embark a draft of 150 Coastguard men as part complement from different stations, in addition to which all the seamen-riggers serving at Sheerness yard have been transferred from the dockyard establishment to her and the Euryalus 50 gun frigate, Captain Samuel Ramsey. The seamen-riggers having the opportunity of entering which of the two ships they prefer. A number of very smart A.B’s have volunteered for her and ordinary seaman and landsmen are coming forward freely for entry. She was masted yesterday week, tops sent over the mastheads and the standing rigging is being fitted. The greatest activity prevails among the blue-jackets, the Marine Artillery and Royal Marines, the last being engaged conveying the standing rigging etc., from the stores ready for the use of the former. Her screw propeller was lowered into its bearings yesterday week and her machinery would be tried yesterday or to-day. An officer has proceeded to the north to get volunteers. Her crew were paid on the 8th (Wednesday).”
18th April – Sailed from Sheerness; to Blackstakes anchorage to embark ammunition.
April 22nd – “The Majestic at Sheerness had her compasses adjusted last week and her crew were paid wages this week. She got up steam on the 16th and went to Black Stakes preparatory to leaving for the Baltic on the 18th. A good number of valuable men volunteered for her towards the last”
April 24th Sheerness – “The Majestic after leaving port proceeded away down Swin and after returned and anchored about two miles above the Mouse-light vessel, where she remained until this morning, when she got up steam and proceeded through the Queens-channel for the downs, on her way to the Baltic. She will wait in the Downs the arrival of the French squadron from best and then proseed with them in company to the Baltic.” They sailed from Deal on the 29th. 7th May – Passed Nyborg 10th May – Joined Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Finland Late-May/early June –Was spent in area of Barosund (Finland) 12th June – Sailed from Helsingfors with the main fleet 22nd June – The fleet moved to cruise off Kronstadt
24th to 26th June - Off Seskar Island
6th to 16th July – In Barosund
16th July – Detached from the fleet for an independent cruise due to the many cases of cholera which had occurred on her. The press reported that – “The cholera has been very bad. The Austerlitz in the French fleet and the Majestic in our own have been the principal suffers. In the Majestic there have been nearly 40 cases and she has 130 on her sick list. The cause is thought to be the dirty waters of the Neva when the fleet was near Kronstadt.” 19th July – Rejoined fleet off Hango Head (= Hanko)
21st July to 20th September – In Ledo Sound (about 14 miles from Bomarsund) with a portion of the fleet
21st September to 19th October – The fleet spent at anchor off Nargen (modern = Nairssaar)
(as a curiosity, a sports day was held on Nargen “...wickets were soon pitched...besides cricket there were foot races and quoits, and private little picnics among old friends” 28th October to 3rd December – With the fleet in Kiel harbour. 15th November – It was reported from Kiel that – “The winter season had set in at a period unusually early. At the head of the bay a considerable portion of ice has formed and should the wind continue in the northward the greater portion of the harbour will be frozen in a few days. It was also rumoured that the squadron of steam-frigates under the orders of Captain Watson would take up their winter quarters in Kiel bay.” A change in the wind later in the day helped disperse the ice and ease the situation for the time being. 4th December – The Majestic and Cressy left Kiel for England. 16th December – Arrived Nore anchorage
18th December to 10th March 1855 – Was spent at Sheerness, the Majestic spending time in No. 3 dry-dock having he hull inspected. It was expected that the crew would be given a period of leave, as the time being they had been drafted to the Minotaur (a hulk). 1855 During her spell in dry-dock it was found that she had a problem with her Main propeller shaft, this was removed and transported to Woolwich for repair. She was also re-rigged throughout and coppered to a higher level.
12th March to 4th April – Based at Spithead (the Baltic fleet gathering for the 1855 campaign) 4th April – The fleet left Spithead.
6th and 7th April – In the Downs anchorage, awaiting the ships from Chatham.
19th April to 3rd May – Was spent at Kiel
6th to 8th May - At Farosund (Gotland island)
10th to 26th May – Was spent off Nargen Island
28th May to 14th June – Moved to off Tolboukin
15th to 20th June – The Majestic and the Euryalus were detached with orders to cruise eastwards towards Kronstadt.
21st June to 20th August – Based off Tolboukin
22nd August to 4th September – Off Seskar
5th to 8th September – Cruising off entrance to Kronstadt
8th to 12th September – Off Seskar
12th to 14th September – Off Kronstadt
27th September to 22nd October – Returned to Seskar
23rd October to 11th November – Based off Nargen 12th November – The press reported an article from the “United Service Gazette” which had announced that Captain James Hope who had been awarded a vacant good service pension a few weeks previous had declined the honour citing that his private resources were such that he had no need for the accession of income and allowed it to pass to Captain Austin the Captain Superintendent of Deptford Dockyard. An action that was much applauded. 14th November to 6th December – Based at Kiel, leaving to return to England 10th December to 14th February 1856 – Arrived back at Sheerness. She brought home as a member of her crew (rated as a marine) a Russian deserter, a Sergeant of the guard by the name of Michael Cwtho? Who deserted off Kronastadt. 1856 The Majestic’s crew were all sent on leave.
16 Feb – 15 Mar – Spithead 15th March – The Majestic and the Caesar left Spithead for the Downs, to form an escort of honour for the King of the Belgians, on the occasion of his visit to England. They were expected back by the 20th as the fleet had to assemble at Spithead by the 25th to be inspected by the Queen and her Royal visitor.
24th March – Arrived at Kiel
8th to 29th April – At Spithead (part of the Naval Review of 26th).
1st to 20th May – At Sheerness
22nd to 29th May – Back at Spithead. The Majestic sailed on the 30th May for the Crimea.
11th to 12th June – Called at Malta
22nd June - At Sevastopol; embarked 33 officers and 790 soldiers.
28th June - At Malta
17th July – Arrived back at Spithead with Col. Edwards 18th Regt., Major Cull, 1st Regt. and 33 other officers and 790 non-commissioned officers men of the 1st Royals, 18th & 49th regiments. The troops are to land to-morrow (18th) and proceed to Aldershot.
18th July – Disembarked troops
17th July to 8th August – At Spithead then sailed for the Mediterranean
8th to 11th September – At Malta
(late) September to January 1857 – Based at Constantinople 1857
February – Visited Pireaus and Corfu
5th to 10th March – Was spent at Malta
2nd to 6th April – Called at Gibraltar
1st May – Arrived back at Spithead
1st to 3rd May – At Spithead
5th May – Arrived at Sheerness 15th May – The ship paid off with the Locust taking the Plymouth men back to Devonport.
HMS Waterloo 15th May 1857 to 7th June 1857
15th May 1857 – Joined HMS Waterloo a 120 gun 1st rate wooden sail of 1833, Commanded by Captain Henry Harvey, acting as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Edward Harvey at Sheerness
I am assuming that this acted as a base ship and the men from this depot stayed here until relocated, in the case of William Ellis he was discharged on the 7th June 1857 to the Coast Guard.
Re: A South Africa 1853 Medal to H.M.S. Castor
Pretty nice medal Dave-looks to be well toned- as one would expect of an uncleaned medal- but which appears to be GVF/NEF nevertheless. You have excelled with the provenace, considering the fact that no service papers were found for him.Well done.
Re: A South Africa 1853 Medal to H.M.S. Castor
Thank you Jim, Yes I was very pleased to get this example. A nice ship and interesting Captain.
I have since managed to buy a copy of Basil Lubbock's that deals with the suppression of the slave trade "Cruisers, corsairs and Slavers". The Castor and Wyvill gets some nice mentions.
Re: A South Africa 1853 Medal to H.M.S. Castor
The problem with Lubbock's book is that it is not well organized and, more importantly, it has no index. Finding specific references can be frustrating.
Re: A South Africa 1853 Medal to H.M.S. Castor