Original British Napoleonic Wars Naval Orders Chest Named to Captain Shirreff 1785 -1847
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Remember "THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER" the story about the Russian Submarine, sailing orders, at the time of conflict, were never opened until the vessel was at sea so even the captain would not know a ship's mission? This was even more important during the age of sail. Orders were delivered, together with money and other things of value in a "sealed" chest only to be opened once port had been cleared thereby guaranteeing security.
This is a genuine order’s chest, a truly magnificent item, dating from the Napoleonic Wars. The chest is constructed of wood with brass mounts and measures 20" W x 15" D x 13.5 H. It has brass bindings at the corners and the sides and it is also fitted with brass handles. The internal brass lock is no longer present and two brass hooks with eyes now keep the chest secured. The interior has been lined, many years ago with printed paper which is very tattered. The top of the lid has an inlaid brass plaque that is engraved:
CAPT SHIRREFF, R.N.
Best of all, all over the front vertical face of the box are the remains of official wax seals that secured canvas bindings used at the Admiralty when the orders chests were officially sealed before transport to the vessel.
Captain WILLIAM HENRY SHERRIFF, 1785 - 1847 joined the Royal Navy in 1796 at the age of 11. He was promoted Captain in 1809 and eventually Rear Admiral of the Blue in 1846. His biography appears in O'BYRNE'S "A NAVAL BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY" on page 1064. It appears he had an adventure packed career including being a POW of the French in 1805-1806 on the Caribbean of Guadeloupe. Whilst commanding H.M.S. ANDROMACHE, Captain Shirreff discovered the "South Shetland Islands" in the South Pacific. Research shows his time as a British Sailor consisted of years of glory during a period of the British Navy's greatest exploits.
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