The Superb Peninsula War group of awards and medals to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bell, 48th Foot,

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Lot 109*
The Superb Peninsula War group of awards and medals to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bell, 48th Foot,

Sold for £ 43,475 (US$ 60,522) inc. premium
The Superb Peninsula War group of awards and medals to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bell, 48th Foot,
The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B., Military Division, Companion's breast badge, (hallmarked 1815); Army Gold Cross in gold with the following battles in the arms Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Salamanca, engraved on the rim (Major Thomas Bell 48th Foot); Small Army Gold Medal, engraved on reverse (Pyrenees), with bars Nivelle, Salamanca (Major Thomas Bell, 1st Bn 48th Foot); Military General Service 1793-1814, four bars, Albuhera, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Toulouse (Thos Bell, Capt 48th Foot). With a portrait miniature of a gentleman in uniform purporting to be Lieutenant Colonel Bell. Rear lunette on the Small Army Gold Medal cracked, otherwise extremely fine throughout. (5)


  • Major Thomas Bell was born at Dunse, Berwickshire on 8th December 1872, and joined the Army aged 17. He became a Fully Paid Ensign of the 48th Foot on 13th November 1799 by £400 purchase. He served in Malta from 1800 to 1803, and was present at the blockade and seige of Lavaletta with General Pigott, he was custodian of the colours and planted then at St.Angelo. He returned to England in March 1805 and then went to Gibraltar. He had been promoted to Lieutenant on 17th Jan 1801, again by purchase, and promoted to Captain on 13th September 1805 without purchase. From 1806 until 1809 he served with the Second Battalion in Ireland. From 1809 until 1814 he served in Portugal, Spain and France as detailed as follows:

    1809 Oporto and the campaigns of that year under Lord Wellington.

    1811 Battles of Albuhera (wounded), Fuente Guinaldo and Aldea Ponte.

    1812 Siege of Cuidad Rodrigo, Seige and Assault of Badajoz (wounded), Battle of Salamanca and the Campaign of the same year (*).

    1813 Battles of the Pyrenees July and August (*); Battle of the Nivelle 10th November 1813 (*); Battle of the Orthes 27th Feruary 1814 (*); Battle of Toulouse 11th April 1814.

    (*)= Commanded the 1st Battalion 48th Foot at these specific actions.

    His papers confirm promotion to Major for commanding the 48th Regiment on 28th July 1813. On his return to the UK he is then posted to Ireland until 1817. He is then sent to Australia on H.M.Ship Lloyds with 200 members of the Garrison to Sydney, New South Wales, where he was responsible to Governor Lachlan Macquarie at Port Dalrymple. Ten months later he was sent with a detachment in the Lady Castlereagh to Hobart, Tasmania, to take charge of the Military Garrison at Hobart Town. He was a qualified engineer and appointed Inspector of Public Works, his civil duties included the management and victualing of newly arrived convicts, and also was responsible for the construction of many public buildings and roads in Tasmania, including the famous Richmond Bridge which is the oldest standing bridge in Australia. While supervising public works he never ordered a convict to be flogged or permitted his overseers to strike men in their gangs, though they could be brought before the magistrates for punishment.

    The Northamptonshire Regiment was the first regiment post Peninsular War to serve in Australia. His service papers confirm this and mention New South Wales and Van Diemans Land (Tasmania). The final tour of duty in New South Wales ended in 1824, with a number of the regiment deciding to settle there. He was promoted to Major in March 1824 without purchase. He became Lieutenant Colonel on 20th September 1827 until he finished his service in 1829, he served with the Madras Presidency from 1824 to 1829. His total service was 30 Years and 2 Months. In his personal life he was married on 19th January 1806 to Mary Caroline Bourne at Hints, Staffordshire, and had seven children. He died at Shaldom on 9th June 1866.

    Sold with photocopied service papers showing relevant details, in particular stating that he receives the Army Gold Cross for commanding the 48th Foot at Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle and Orthes, as well as confirmation for the Small Army Gold Medal.
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