Full title: Item 1: Sword, said to have belonged to William Bligh
Author/creator: Bligh family.
Call Numbers: LR 5
Record Identifier: n7oV6jgn
Contents: 1 sword - Hilt 13.3 cm; blade 75 cm; scabbard 76 cm; suspension ring 2.7 cm - steel with brass fittings, in leather and brass scabbard. It has a brass stirrup hilt, with the pommel in the form of a lion's head with the mane running into the back-plate. The grip is bound with horizontally grooved wire. The cross-piece and stirrup guard are fluted. On the reverse side of the hilt there is the appearance of a piece of the hilt broken off. The blade is slightly curved, single-edged and flat backed. It has one long broad and one short narrow fullers and is decorated with stylized wreaths. The scabbard is black leather with two gilt brass lockets, each with a suspension ring. The tip is protected with a gilt brass chape.
It has not proved possible to accurately date the sword. Bligh first entered the Navy in 1770, the Battle of Camperdown was fought in 1797, and S. Brunn was sword maker to HRH Prince of Wales from 1800-1811. It appears to be a hanger or cutlass sword, but it is unclear if the sword is a navy or presentation dress sword. The missing piece from the hilt may have provided extra protection for the hand and markings of a navy sword, but on its current presentation it appears to be a dress sword. The Bligh family have stated that the sword is believed to have been captured from Admiral de Winter at the Battle of Campderdown on 11th October, 1797 when the Dutch flagship, 'Vrijheid', surrendered to HMS 'Director' under Bligh's command. In the 'Copy of memorandum re the capture of Admiral de Winter's ship 'Vrijheid' during the Battle of Camperdown', ML Z Safe 1/39, William Bligh states, "Admiral Duncan gave Captain Bligh orders to take possession of the 'Vrijheid' which he did. Admiral de Winter was sent to Admiral Duncan and the next in command, Captain Lieutenant Sicame was sent to the 'Director' ...".Another sword reputed to have been owned by William Bligh is in the possession of the National Maritime Museum, London. This sword has been identified as of Dutch origin and is likely to have belonged to the Dutch Vice-Admiral Reijntjes in his flagship 'Jupiter', surrendered to William Bligh at the Battle of Campderdown. Sources: 'Copy of memorandum re the capture of Admiral de Winter's ship 'Vrijheid'e of Camperdown', ML Z Safe 1/39. Naval swords: British and American navel edged weapons, 1660-1815 by P.G.W. Annis, London, 1970. SRL N739.72/14.
The naval officer's sword by Henry T.A. Bosanquet, London, 1955. SRL DS399/14. Swords for sea service by W.E. May and P.G.W. Annis, London, 1970. SRL NQ739.72/3-4. Mitchell index card catalogue for Realia. Australian Dictionary of Biography. Online edition.
William Dixon's notes: "In order to present it I had it nickel-plated." (Source: WD notes on relics Sp.528)
Copy Print : LR 5 available on open access in the Mitchell Library Reading Room
Digital order no:Album ID : 946088
MMS ID: 110332270