Pistol owned by HMS Victory sailor to go under hammer

Dave Higgens, PA
·1-min read

A flintlock pistol once owned by a sailor who served on HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar will be auctioned later this month.

William Rivers’s 22-bore British Flintlock 1801 Pattern Long Sea Service Pistol is expected to fetch around £1,000 to £2,000 when is it sold, according to Tennants Auctioneers.

The pistol will be sold with a handwritten note which was found rolled up in the barrel.

The note reads: “William Rivers was my great great grandad and during the Battle of Trafalgar was in charge of the ships cannons on board H.M.S. Victory. He kept his gun on retiring from the navy in 1825 – John Rivers 1906”.

Tennants Militaria and Ethnographic sale
Tennants Auctioneers’ employee Alice Fitton holds a flintlock pistol once owned by William Rivers, who served on board HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar (Danny Lawson/PA)

Rivers lost his leg at Trafalgar and later became Lieutenant of Greenwich Hospital. There is a bust of him at the Royal Museums Greenwich, Tennants said.

The pistol will form part of the Tennants Auctioneers’ Militaria and Ethnographic Sale on April 14 at the firm’s sale room in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.

Among the other lots are items relating to the First World War belonging to Sergeant C.E. Keay.

These include a bullet-marked pocket bible Sgt Keay had in his breast pocket which deflected a round that would otherwise have proved fatal, as well as pieces of shrapnel.

Tennants said that Sgt Keay was later admitted to hospital from September 1917 to March 1918, when he had over 20 pieces of shrapnel removed from his body.