EAA Research Consultant
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Fascinating brass basket hilt! The blade (as always) is intriguing, especially being a 'Drury' blade. Apparently Drury in 1771 joined in business with Nathaniel Jeffries, and these two men were both producers of blades found on British military swords in this time. Jeffries was succeeded by Drury by 1772, and the Drury blades are the most commonly seen of the two as I understand.
By 1777, Drury was bankrupt but continued in business and supplying until 1786 (he died in 1804). According to Darling ("Swords for the Highland Regiments 1757-1784", 1988, p.17) he was supplying until 1784, as noted 'the year privates in Highland regiments ceased wearing swords'.
As Darling notes on p.18 (op.cit.) "...to whom were these Drury signed swords issued? Between 1775 and 1779 eight Highland regiments, one of two battalions, were raised, one of which, the Royal Highland Emigrants, was levied in Canada".
Is it possible that these curious markings at the forte near blade back might have something to do with such issuance? perhaps 'E C' might represent Emigrants Canada? with the obscured word unclear (this seems unusual to see anything stamped in this location on blade....obviously the maker was Drury).
Whatever the case, these basket hilts seem to have been of steel, while later hilts (c.1790s) for Scottish units were often gilt brass (copper). The configuration of plates and bars in the guard correspond to cavalry hilts c.1750 in form (obviously steel, Mazansky, 2005, p.141) but are seen in similar examples in the same reference (p.130-132) which are brass with some having similar pommel (type IV, Mazansky) a low cone with cross strap design.
The 1798 pattern seems unclear (Robson, p.124, "Swords of the British Army", 1975), but he notes compelling references suggesting they were indeed brass. Most of the examples in Mazansky seem to be to grenadier or fusilier units of Scottish regiments, with the components very similar.
Could this earlier blade have been joined with one of the brass hilts in refurbishing for Napoleonic campaigns? If the Highland unit of 'Emigrant Canada' was levied there, it obviously was not stationed there. Still, would the arms issued be somehow kept separately accountable in inventory context?
This is one of the great fascinations of studying these swords...what stories of their working lives can be revealed as we look into the clues?