Item:
ON8636

Original British 18th Century Blunderbuss Named to Infamous Playwright Richard Sheridan Duelist

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a fine honest Blunderbuss made by the London Gunmakers GRIFFIN AND TOW.

Offered in very good overall condition, featuring a 16" swamped brass barrel and all brass mounts. The trigger guard has had some repair and four small securing screws have been added very probably during working life. Griffin and Tow worked from 1773-1796 on Bond Street in London.

The Blunderbuss has a brass escutcheon plate engraved with the name:

CAPTAIN

THO MATHEWS

In 1772 Richard Sheridan fought a famous duel against Captain Thomas Mathews. Mathews had written a newspaper article defaming the character of Elizabeth Ann Linley, the woman Sheridan intended to marry, and honor dictated that a duel must be fought. A first duel was fought in London where they agreed to fight in Hyde Park, but finding it too crowded they went first to the Hercules Pillars tavern (on the site where Apsley House now stands at Hyde Park Corner) and then on to the Castle Tavern in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Far from its romantic image, the duel was short and bloodless. Mathews lost his sword and, according to Sheridan, was forced to "beg for his life" and sign a retraction of the article. The apology was made public and Mathews, infuriated by the publicity the duel had received, refused to accept his defeat as final and challenged Sheridan to another duel. Sheridan was not obliged to accept this challenge, but would have become a social pariah if he had not. The second duel, fought in July 1772 at Kingsdown near Bath, was a much more ferocious affair. This time both men broke their swords but carried on fighting in a "desperate struggle for life and honour". Both were wounded, Sheridan dangerously, being "borne from the field with a portion of his antagonist's weapon sticking through an ear, his breast-bone touched, his whole body covered with wounds and blood, and his face nearly beaten to jelly with the hilt of Mathews' sword. Fortunately his remarkable constitution pulled him through, and eight days after this bloody affair the Bath Chronicle was able to announce that he was out of danger. Mathews escaped in a post chaise.

There the story ends, fortunate really as Richard Sheridan went onto to write many very noteworthy plays. Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan (30 October 1751 – 7 July 1816) was an Irish playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He is known for his plays such as The Rivals, The School for Scandal and A Trip to Scarborough. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford (1780–1806), Westminster (1806–1807) and Llchester (1807–1812). He was buried at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

 

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