The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,

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Lot 187
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,

£ 140,000 - 160,000
US$ 190,000 - 220,000
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The Archive comprises of The Large Naval Gold Medal. The obverse with Britannia, a spear in her left hand and a shield below, standing on the deck of an antique galley, her right foot resting on a helmet, crowned with a wreath by a winged victory. The reverse with inscription within a wreath of oak (right) and laurel (left), engraved (Thomas Graves Esquire Admiral and Second in Command on the 1 of June MDCCXCIV. The French Fleet Defeated). The medal with gold chain and neck riband.

A Lloyds presentation trophy in the form of a twin handled silver-gilt cup and cover. The cover with pinecone finial held in acanthus leaves above cascading stiff leaves separated by bell husks, with small engraved crest and rope twist band, the outer edge engraved (Green & Ward Fect Ludgate Hill London. The cup with rope twist handles and Neptune mask junctions with foliate scroll border with two central oval panels one with engraved coat of arms, the other engraved with the following inscription (Lloyds Coffee House. A Tribute of Respect from his Country to ADMIRAL LORD GRAVES, for his gallant Conduct in His MAJESTY'S SHIP The Royal Sovereign on the ever memorable 1st of JUNE 1794. when the French Fleet was defeated by the British Fleet under the Command OF ADMIRAL EARL HOWE. John Julius Angerstein Chairman.). Both oval panels edged with naval weapons and accessories, on top of a guilloche knop, spreading foot and rope twist and stiff leaf band. Maximum height with cover 51.5cm and maximum width 35cm, weighing 148oz, with hallmark for Robert Sharp.

A collection of seven hardbound handwritten logs/letter books which represent a comprehensive record of correspondence sent and received by him during his time in the Royal Navy. The major details transcripted in the footnote below. The medal remains in extremely fine condition the outer band having moved over time from the centre, the silver-gilt trophy has the majority of the original gilding still remaining, the logs have been preserved remarkably well and virtually all writing remains readble. (Lot)


  • The seven logs/letter books comprise seven hardbound volumes of hand written duplicate correspondence that was sent or received by Graves during his time in the Royal Navy, certain parts are fairly standard as one would expect of his position and level of responsibility. However certain aspects are incredibly detailed, the cataloguer has extracted information relating to his service in North America as well as his experiences before and after the action on the 1st June 1794.

    LOG 1:
    Dating from March 1780 to August 1782, he is serving as Admiral of the Blue, correspondence includes Line of Battle to The Hon Wm.Cornwallis Captain of H.M. ship Canada, dated 24th July 1782.

    LOG 2:
    Correspondence dating from 21st March 1780 where he is aboard H.M.S. London, at Spithead, Causand Bay, Thanckes near Plymouth, by June 1781 he is off Sandy Hook and Staten Island. On the 4th July 1781 he receives a letter from Vice Admiral Arbuthnot relinquishing the command of His Majesy's Squadron in North America into his hands, furthermore a P.S. states "a Cartel is just arrived from the Havanah in 15 days with the first part of the Garrison of Pensacola; the enclosed paper is all the news come to my hands".

    To Captain Duncan of HM Ship Medea.
    13th July 1781 "Sir. Comdr Affleck has acquainted me this moment of a considerable force of French and Rebel ships in the Sound as high as Huntingdon yesterday morning and that much firing had been heard since then. You will therefore the first moment that wind and tides will admit proceed up the harbour into the East River – taking the Savage Sloop along with you and follow the directions of Commodore Affleck for opposing the Endeavour of the Enemy.- so soon as ship service is over you will use your best endeavour to rejoin me here.

    Correspondence on the 19th July 1781 makes comment of a letter from Captain Deans "The assembling of an Army upon the White Plains; the attempt of the Enemy upon Lloyds Neck in the Sound, and the operations in the Chesasapeak, will come more correct and with greater propriety from Head Quarters.-
    The Squadron has been kept constantly before the Hook to second any Army operations which the General had to suggest, it will not be prudent to keep them much longer in so exposed a situation as the time approaches which will make it necessary to attend to the appearance of Squadrons, which the Hurricane season may occasion to defront from the West Indies – I shall put them into safety the moment the Army detachment have done moving upon the Coast-"

    Letter dated 20th August 1781: London at Sandy Hook:

    "Sir My last dispatches acquainted the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty of the arrival of the Hornet Sloop after an eight weeks passage from England. Immediately on the 21st July I proceeded with the squadron into Boston Bay, to be in the way of intercepting the supplies from France to North America.
    The intense fogs which prevailed without intermission as we approached to Saint Georges Bank, deprived us of all possibility of seeing, and soon convinced me how much the squadron would be exposed to accidents, and that the fog guns necessary to keep the ships from separating, would give notice of our situation. I therefore after having made cape Ann, determined to withdraw, and we returned to Sandy Hook the 18th August. We retook a brig being one of the convoy from England bound to Halifax, and burnt three small vessels of little consequence.
    The Royal Oak from Halifax joined the squadron, parted again in the fog and has since returned to this place. She had taken soon after leaving Halifax, the Aurora Boston privateer carrying eighteen guns and 120 men.-
    The cruizers before the Delawar have been more successful, by taking the Bellisarius and Turnbull the former of 20 guns, 150 the latter of 32 guns and 190 men, and two small vessels of a convoy which were in motion for the West Indies, and had been forced to push back into the Delawar by the vigilance of the Medea and the Amphitrite.- The York privateers have been successful in taking more of the convoy.-
    The Swift brigantine Captain Richard Graves of 14 guns and 60 men on board, coming with dispatches from the Cheasapeak proved so leaky that in order to bail at the Hatchways, they had taken their lumber and stores upon deck; in so distrustful a situation they found themselves attacked by the Holker privateer carrying 10 guns and full of men. It was impossible to stand a cannonade; they therefore with great spirit boarded the enemy twice, but the privateer having greatly the advantage in sailing disentangled and made away leaving their enemy to pump and bail or drown, fortunately she arrived and was hauled on shore. She had two men killed and two wounded.-
    The Swallow sloop Captain Wills with dispatches from Sir George Rodney, being sent after the squadron into Boston bay on her return with a privateer brig of 14 guns her prize in company, and was attacked the 16 instant by four rebel privateers and pushed on shore upon Long Island, 11 leagues to the Eastward of this. Captain Wills burnt his prize, but could not get all his people on shore in time to burn the Swallow. The privateers pillaged her. If she is not bulged we shall endeavour to get her off otherwise we shall set the wreck on fire. The dispatches were destroyed which has prevented my inclosing the plan of Old Point Comfort.- etc.

    The remaining correspondence comes from North River, Sandy Hook, Antigua, Jamaica and eventually Plymouth in October 1782.

    LOG 3: This covers correspondence dating from June 1786 until March 1788. This comprises of letters sent to him covering all areas of naval administration, and copies of correspondence sent by him.

    LOG 4: This particular log has a section at the front as an Index with sections covering: Admiralty Leave, Appointments, Courts Martial, Deserters. This dates from June 1786 until June 1789. He serves aboard H.M.S.Powerful in Bamoze, then on to H.M.S. Hero and Impregnable. The correspondence is of standard naval administration and day to day workings.

    LOGS 5 and 6 : These cover correspondence from June 1790 until February 1794, he serves aboard Cambridge and Impregnable throughout much of this time.

    LOG 7: This covers correspondence from June 1790. By late 1793 he is serving aboard H.M.S. Royal Sovereign at Spithead, and correspondence on the 20th April 1794 from Admiral Earl Howe has ordered him to proceed to St.Helens on Tuesday next with the Van Squadron of the Fleet.
    His letter dated 20th April 1794 states that:

    "The Admiral Earl Howe having directed me to proceed to St.Helens with the Van Squadron of the Fleet, on Tuesday next. You are to hold your ship in readiness to Unmoor and proceed, when the signal is made, for that purpose, on board the Royal Sovereign".

    This letter sent to the Captains of Caesar, Bellerophon, Marlborough, Audacious, Impregnable, Culloden, Russell, Sovereign, Defence, Tremendous, and Niger.

    On the First June 1794 he wrote to 1st Lieut Mackellar of the Royal Sovereign as follows:

    "You are hereby required and directed to go on board the French Man of War captured by the Royal Sovereign, with a Master's Mate, a Midshipman and Fifty Seaman, a Sergeant, Corporal and 16 Marines which with 40 Seamen, you will receive from the Niger and six Seamen from the Charon Hospital ship, you will use the utmost expedition in getting her refitted and when the Fleet makes sail, the Niger has orders to take the Prize in Tow. You will keep one Hundred and Fifty French Prisoners on board, taking care to throw over board, all the small arms, Swords, Pistols, Poleaxes, Pikes and Bayonets, except such as are necessary for your own Defence, and otherwise secure the Prisoners. Given under my Mark, being disabled in my Right Hand, this 1st June 1794 on board H.M. Ship Royal Sovereign at Sea T.G.".

    On the Second June 1794 he wrote to the Commanding Officer aboard H.M.Ship Montagu as follows:

    "It is the Commander in Chief's Direction that you do as soon as possible send a Lieutenant, a Master's Mate, a Midshipman, and Fifty Seamen onboard the America Captured French Ship of War and take out of her; and receive onboard the Montagu 200 Prisoners, and having so done, you are to take the Prize in Tow, and be ready to proceed with the Fleet".

    The next letter whilst not dated was sent to the Captains of the Sovereign, Impregnable, Marlborough, Orion, Tremendous, Montagu, Gibraltar, Alfred and Culloden.

    "In pursuance of directions from the Admiral Earl Howe, Commander in Chief etc. You are hereby required and directed to use the utmost exertions in getting the Damages repaired which His Majesty's ship under your Command may have sustained in the late action; and also to get her refitted and otherwise put into a condition for service with all possible dispatch. And I desire to recommend it to you, that whenever there shall happen any other stop or Delay to her Equipment, that the cause thereof be traced to its source by yourself; and upon its not being forthwith removed, then to acquaint me with the circumstances, that such further application may be made as shall be deemed necessary. You are to report to me when she shall be ready again for service".

    His next and final two letters in this log were to Captain Henry Nicholls of the Royal Sovereign, informing him of his leave from Duty for the recovery of his wounds and requiring the use of the Surgeon Mr Alexander Young to attend to him. The final letter orders him to return to Spithead as quickly as possible and to receive further orders from Admiral Earl Howe.


    Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves KB (23 October 1725 – 9 February 1802) was a British Admiral and colonial official. He was the second son of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves of Thanckes in Cornwall.

    In the first year of the Seven Years' War, Graves failed to confront a French ship which gave challenge. He was tried by court-martial for not engaging his ship, and reprimanded. Graves became Commodore-Governor of Newfoundland in 1761 and given the duty of convoying the seasonal fishing fleet from England to the island. In 1762 he learned that French ships had captured St. John's, Newfoundland. Graves, Admiral Alexander Colville and Colonel William Amherst retook the port city.

    With the end of the Seven Years' War, Labrador came under his responsibility as French fishing fleets returned to the French Shore and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Graves strictly enforced the treaties to the extent that the French government protested. Graves' governorship ended in 1764. He returned to active service during the American War of Independence and became commander-in-chief of the North American Squadron in 1781 when Mariot Arbuthnot returned home.

    During the American War of Independence, his fleet was defeated by the Comte de Grasse in the Battle of the Chesapeake at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781 leading to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. In September 1782, a fleet under his command was caught in a violent storm off the banks of Newfoundland. The captured French ships, Ville de Paris (110 guns) and HMS Glorieux (74 guns) and the British ships HMS Ramillies (74 guns) and HMS Centaur (74 guns) foundered, along with other merchant ships, with the loss of 3,500 lives. In 1786 he became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.

    With the French Revolutionary Wars, Graves was second in command to Admiral Richard Howe at the British victory over the French at the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794. Graves became a full Admiral and was awarded an Irish peerage as Baron Graves, of Gravesend in the County of Londonderry. He died in February 1802, aged 76, and was succeeded in the Barony by his son Thomas.

    A total of seven Naval Large Gold Medals were awarded for the First of June 1794 to Graves and the following Officers:

    Admiral R.E.Howe, Queen Charlotte
    Vice Admiral Sir A.Hood K.B., Royal George
    Rear Admiral G.Bowyer, Barfleur
    Rear Admiral A.Gardner, Queen
    Rear Admiral T.Paisley, Bellerophon
    Captain of the Fleet Sir R.Curtis Kt, Queen Charlotte

    A further fifteen Naval Small Gold Medals were also awarded for the same action.

    The Glorious First of June (also known in France as the Bataille du 13 prairial an 2 or Combat de Prairial) of 1794 was the first and largest fleet action of the naval conflict between Great Britain and the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.

    The action was the culmination of a campaign that had criss-crossed the Bay of Biscay over the previous month in which both sides had captured numerous merchant ships and minor warships and had engaged in two partial, but inconclusive, fleet actions. The British Channel Fleet under Admiral Lord Howe attempted to prevent the passage of a vital French grain convoy from the United States, which was protected by the French Atlantic Fleet, commanded by Rear-Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse. The two forces clashed in the Atlantic Ocean, some 400 nautical miles (700 km) west of the French island of Ushant on 1 June 1794.

    During the battle, Howe defied naval convention by ordering his fleet to turn towards the French and for each of his vessels to rake and engage their immediate opponent. This unexpected order was not understood by all of his captains, and as a result his attack was more piecemeal than he intended. Nevertheless, his ships inflicted a severe tactical defeat on the French fleet. In the aftermath of the battle both fleets were left shattered; in no condition for further combat, Howe and Villaret returned to their home ports. Despite losing seven of his ships of the line, Villaret had bought enough time for the French grain convoy to reach safety unimpeded by Howe's fleet, securing a strategic success. However, he was also forced to withdraw his battle fleet back to port, leaving the British free to conduct a campaign of blockade for the remainder of the war. In the immediate aftermath both sides claimed victory and the outcome of the battle was seized upon by the press of both nations as a demonstration of the prowess and bravery of their respective Navies.

    The Glorious First of June demonstrated a number of the major problems inherent in the French and British navies at the start of the Revolutionary Wars. Both Admirals were faced with disobedience from their Captains, along with ill-discipline and poor training among their shorthanded crews, and they failed to control their fleets effectively during the height of the combat.

The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
The First of June 1794 Naval Large Gold Medal and Archive to Admiral Lord Graves, Royal Navy,
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