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Old 11th January 2017, 01:24 AM   #256
Cathey's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: adelaide south australia
Posts: 188
Default Pattern 1828 Basket Hilt Princess Louise's Argyll & Sutherland

Hi Guys, thought it was time to post another Basket hilt.

Date: Pattern 1828, manufacture date 1857
Nationality: British
Overall Length: 102 cm (40.2 inches) in scabbard, 98 cm (38.6 inches) sword only
Blade length: 82.2 cm (32.4 inches)
Blade widest point: 3.256 cm (1.3 inches)
Hilt widest point: 14.6 cm (5.7 inches)
Inside grip length: 10.3 cm (4.1 inches)
Marks, etc. Back-edge of blade, bottom of ricasso, is stamped with the serial number "8512". Etched onto ricasso, right is, "HENRY / WILKINSON / PALL MALL / LONDON"; in left ricasso is the Wilkinson "proof plug" (slightly damaged); etched into blade panel on left is the Argyll 'Boar's Head' over the motto of the 91st Regiment, "Ne Obliviscaris" over "PRINCESS / LOUISE'S / ARGYLL / & / SUTHERLAND / HIGHLANDERS"; the right blade panel is etched with the Sutherland 'Wild Cat' over the motto of the 93rd Regiment "Sans Peur"

Scottish basket hilt in correct steel field scabbard. This sword belonged to a field officer in, "Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders". It is believed this was a family sword and used before the creation of this particular unit in 1881. The sword was manufactured by Henry Wilkinson, the serial numbered 8512 for 1857. It is also believed this sword was likely shipped back to Wilkinson for the subsequent new unit designation etching circa 1881. The blade has scattered dark oxidation and some scattered minor edge wear; hilt does not appear to have any fractures.

General Remarks
Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was formed in 1881 by combining the 91st (Argyllshire Highlanders) and the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders), both Regiments of Foot. The 91st and 93rd Regiments of Foot were first formed in 1759. The 93rd - originally known as the 1st Sutherland Fencibles - became the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders in 1800. These two regiments were merged during the Childers Reforms in 1881 - the 91st becoming the 1st Battalion, the 93rd becoming the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It is very likely this sword was originally carried by a Field Officer in either the 91st or 93rd Regiment of Foot before the merger.

Research to date
The Wilkinson Proof docket says McNeill or Mr Hart (it has been suggested that they meant McNeill for Mr Hart) in which case the sword belonged to Hart. At some time after 1881 the sword has been re-designated/engraved with the regimental emblems etc. of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. By this time both McNeill and Hart had long retired. There is a Malcolm McNeil in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at this time, perhaps a son or grandson of the original Malcolm McNeill linked to the sword.

The only regiment that had a McNeill and a Hart in it at the same time was the 78th Ross Shire Buffs. Both a Malcolm McNeill and a James Hart are in the Harts Army list for 1860. Wilkinson Sword purchase is dated 6 February 1858, Malcolm McNeil was gazetted Ensign in 18 December 1857 but Mr. (Ensign) James Hart was not gazetted until 10 September the following year (1858).

James Hart was promoted from the ranks, Sergeant-Major James Hart to be Ensign, without purchase, vice Ewing. Dated 10th September, 1858.

Both Men retired in 1861, James still an Ensign, however having seen considerable action Malcolm a Lieutenant with no record of serving in action found to date.

According to the 1860 Hart Army list “Ensign Hart served in the Persian war in 1857, including the night attack and battle of Kooshab, and bombardment of Mohumrah (medal and clasp). Served in Bengal with Havelock’s column from its first taking the field in 1857, including the actions of Futtehpore, Aoung, Pandoo Nuddee, Cawnpore, Onao, Buseerutgunge (1st and 2nd), Bithoor, and the several actions leading to and ending in the rleif of the Residency of Lucknow and subsequent defence; with Outram’s force at Alumbagh, including the repulse of the numerous attacks, and operations ending in the final capture of Lucklow; the Rohilcund campaign in 1858 and capture of Bareilly (Medal and Clasp).

I have found no record of a Hart in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

At this stage I am leaning towards the view that McNeill gifted the sword to James Hart, who latter re-gifted it to a son or grandson of Malcolm McNeill serving in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Cheers Cathey and Rex
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