Item:
ON0204

Rare Original Royal Navy Victorian Documents of the Boxer Rebellion, Writing Box and Research Report

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Item Description

Original Item: One Set Only. Well we've all been to House Sales and they are not much different in England than anywhere else. Not too long ago a friend attended a sale in Northern England and found a Victorian Mahogany Writing Box that caught his eye. It isn't the best writing box or "Writing Slope" as they used to be called, but it dated from the later Victorian period and was pretty much as original except the green felt that serves as the writing surface had been replaced.

However, in the storage compartment beneath the slope was a mass of old papers most dating from the turn of the 19th / 20th centuries many relating to the then current day Military matters in China.

On a hunch, he purchased the set with IMA in mind, which was of course a risky thing to do, but not in this case. The box is engraved with the owner's name ?A.L.O.FORBES-SEMPILL, R.N.? (Royal Navy). It turns out young Arthur Lionel Ochoncar Forbes Sempill, born 1877 and who died in 1962 was the 4th son of the 17th Lord Sempill Craigievar near Balmoral, in Scotland. He enlisted as an Ensign (Officer Cadet) and rose to be a Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy.

The real treasure in this lot are documents from his experience as a young Naval Lieutenant during the time of the famous Boxer Rebellion in China (remember the Movie "55 Days at Peking" with Charleton Heston? ). Most interesting of all is the fact that Lieutenant Forbes-Sempill's notes of the disposition of the fleets, strengths and casualty lists are the most complete discovered to date about the Battle of the Taku Forts, as the engagement came to be known, and this was all stuffed in an old writing box!

In the hope that exciting information might be discovered we have had this period of Forbes-Sempill's life professionally researched and attach a 10-page report as an addendum.

This is a unique window into a small but significant period of Victorian Military History that involved both the European and American Powers in a struggle for South East Asia.

A fascinating collection accompanied by Forbes-Sempill's mahogany writing box which no doubt accompanied him on these adventures as a 23 year old Junior Officer and stayed with him his entire life.

The Victorian mahogany Writing Box with original papers of Lieutenant, the Right Honorable Arthur Lionel Ochoncar Forbes-Sempill of Craigievar during his time in the Boxer Rebellion with the subsequent 10 page Research Report included.

Below are additional document images:

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