A fine pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons, no. 12643/4 Formerly the property of Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig In their brass-mounted oak and leather case, the lid impressed 'D.H.' and with brass escutcheon engraved 7th Hussars
Lot 288S2
A fine pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons, no. 12643/4
Formerly the property of Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
In their brass-mounted oak and leather case, the lid impressed 'D.H.' and with brass escutcheon engraved 7th Hussars
Sold for £15,000 (US$ 20,040) inc. premium

Lot Details
A fine pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons, no. 12643/4 Formerly the property of Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig In their brass-mounted oak and leather case, the lid impressed 'D.H.' and with brass escutcheon engraved 7th Hussars
A fine pair of 12-bore self-opening sidelock ejector guns by J. Purdey & Sons, no. 12643/4 Formerly the property of Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
Ribs engraved '1' and '2', push-forward snap-action underlevers, the fences finely carved with foliate-scrolls on a matt ground, best bouquet and foliate-scroll engraving, cocking-indicators, highly-figured stocks with wood extensions, the Whitworth Steel barrels with game-ribs, engraved J. Purdey & Sons, Audley House, South Audley Street, London Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth's Fluid Pressed Steel, and scroll-engraved breech-ends
Weight 6lb. 11¾oz., 15 7/8in. pulls (14 1/8in. stocks), 30in. barrels, both approx. cyl. & ½ choke, 2½in. chambers, London nitro reproof
In their brass-mounted oak and leather case, the lid impressed 'D.H.' and with brass escutcheon engraved 7th Hussars


  • The makers have kindly confirmed that the guns were completed in 1887 as non-ejectors, and were formerly the property of Earl Haig. An annotation in the records, dated 1920, notes that the guns had been converted to ejector elsewhere

    Fine Sporting Guns and Vintage Firearms, Christie's, 18th July 2001, lot 39 (Realised £25,850 inc. premium)

    Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig KT GCB OM GCVO KCIE ADC (1861-1928)
    Born into the whisky-making family, he was educated at Clifton College, Bristol before studying Political Economy, Ancient History and French Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford. Although he passed his exams, he was denied his degree due to missing a term through sickness and was unable to continue his studies as he would then have been too old to enter the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, which he did in 1884. Whilst older than his fellow students, he finished his time as Senior Under-Officer, passing out first in his term and receiving the Anson Sword. He was commissioned into the 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars in 1885 with the rank of lieutenant. A keen polo player, he represented England during a tour of America in 1886 before being posted to India later that year, becoming adjutant of the regiment in 1888 and rising to the rank of Captain in 1891, taking command of a squadron a year later. He returned to England at the end of that year to prepare for the entrance exams for Staff College, but failed the compulsory mathematics paper necessary to gain entry, and with the Adjutant-General, Sir Redvers Buller, refusing to grant him entry, citing his colour blindness.

    Haig returned to India, travelling via France and reporting on cavalry manoeuvres in Touraine, briefly taking the post of second-in-command of the squadron he had left the previous year before returning to England as aide-de-camp to Sir Keith Fraser, Inspector General of Cavalry, and by his petition was finally nominated to Staff College in 1894. Whilst awaiting entry he travelled to Germany, again to report on cavalry manoeuvres, and served as Staff Officer to Colonel John French, whom he helped to write the 1896 cavalry manual, the same year he entered Camberley. Although not popular with his peers, he passed the course, and was picked by Evelyn Wood as one of three recent graduates requested by Lord Kitchener for the Sudan Campaign (1898). Whilst he was not in time to command a squadron from the beginning of the campaign, he served as Staff Officer to Lieutenant-Colonel Broadwood's brigade, and for his actions at the Battle of Nukheila was promoted to Brevet Major and had command of a squadron at the Battle of Omdurman. Upon his return to England he was confirmed in his rank of Major, but instead of receiving the post in the War Office he hoped for was appointed Brigade Major to the 1st Cavalry Brigade at Aldershot.
    Shortly after the brigade were sent out to South Africa, with Haig as their Assistant Adjutant-General. Both he and French were present on the last train to leave Ladysmith, but although promised command of the new cavalry division Lord Roberts, the new Commander-in-Chief, appointed him Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General under the Earl of Errol, whom he succeeded early in 1900, holding the post until the division was disbanded that November and having been promoted to lieutenant-colonel. The next few months were spent as French's Chief of Staff and in command of a local column with responsibility for policing the area around Johannesburg, until being given command of the 17th Lancers in May 1901.

    At the end of the war he continued in command of the regiment, but as they returned to England sooner than planned he was appointed Inspector-General of Cavalry in India. Whilst waiting for his predecessor to complete his term he spent a year on garrison duty in Edinburgh, also serving as Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII between 1902 and 1904, when he reached the rank of Major-General. During his time in India he was a vocal exponent of the retention of the sword and lance by the cavalry, which later formed the basis for the 1907 cavalry training manual. Whilst on leave in 1905, lobbying for a position at the War Office, he married Dorothy Vivian after a whirlwind courtship, and despite returning to India continued to push for a position until eventually his request was granted, taking up the post of Director of Military Training on the General Staff in the wake of the Esher report which created the modern Territorial Army and which also led Haig to produce the formula for an Expeditionary Force in 1907 which would become the basis of the BEF in 1914. Later that same year he was moved to Director of Staff Duties, where he was involved in setting up the Imperial General Staff and supervised the publication of the Field Service Regulations which were to become the basis of the army's expansion in World War One, as well as finding time to publish his own work, Cavalry Studies.

    For his work at the War Office he was knighted, and in 1910 was promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed Chief of the Indian General Staff, where he attempted to undertake similar reforms but with less success. In 1912 he took up the post of General Officer Commanding, Aldershot Command, a position he would retain until the outbreak of war when his command was formed into I Corps of the BEF, expanding to become the 1st Army that December. After a disastrous year, Haig replaced French as Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders in December 1915, a position he would hold until the end of the war. After the armistice he was offered a viscountcy, but refused in part due to his hoping to gain better support for former soldiers, eventually being made 1st Earl Haig and granted £100,000 by Parliament. He served as Commander-in-Chief of Home Forces throughout 1919, before retiring in January 1920.

    In retirement he devoted his life to the welfare of ex-servicemen, setting up the Haig Fund and Haig Homes charities as well as being instrumental in the formation of the British Legion in 1921, and also travelling to Dominion countries to campaign there as well. He retained ties to the army as honorary colonel of several regiments, and was Lord Rector and later Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews. After his death he was given a State Funeral, lying in state at St. Columba's Church, before being borne on the carriage which had previously carried the Unknown Soldier, and the gun which had fired the first British shell of the First World War, to Westminster Abbey followed by three royal princes and with Marshals Foch & Pétain as pall bearers. After the service the procession took the coffin to Waterloo for the journey to Edinburgh, where he lay in state for a further three days before being buried at Dryburgh Abbey, his grave marked by a Commonwealth War Graves headstone. His statue in Whitehall aroused considerable controversy, and was not unveiled until nine years later.
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  1. Patrick Hawes
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