November 17, 2020 Early Arms & Militaria: Age of Exploration, Empire & Revolution
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/17/2020
[Patrick Ferguson and Officers of the 70th Foot]. "The humble Petition of Edward Hicks, Patrick Ferguson, Robert Irving, Boulter Johnston, William Cumberland Campbell and James Sharpe, Officers in his Majesty's 70th Regiment who have purchased Lands in the ceded Islands.", to the "Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury", document signed, 2 pp., large bifolium sheet, np. nd. [Tobago, c. 1773], and individually signed on all six officers on the bottom of page 2. Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hicks, commanding officer of the 70th Foot and five of his officers, including Captain Patrick Ferguson (1744-1780), explain that the regiment had been "station'd for Ten Years in the ceded Islands where they not only had to struggle with a Climate much more Unhealthy than that of the old West India Islands, being unsettled and not cleared, but were also exposed to uncommon expence from the great price of wholesome provisions and other indispensable necessarys" and that said officers "on account of the impossibility of living on their pay...purchased Lotts of Land at the King's hopes that from the regular rise in the price of Land..., they would be enabled by Selling them again to support the expence of the very unprofitable and disagreeable Service they were then Employed in; But...the failures in England...have rendered it impossible to Sell the New Lands for the prices paid for them, much less for any profit....That your petitioners have contributed much to increase the value of the Lands, and consequently the price given at the Sales, by their Activity in quelling the frequent Insurrections of the Slaves, particularly in the Island of Tobago, where the Lands in question are mostly situated, and having gone through much fatiguing service, and having lost one sixth part of that Division of the Regiment stationed there, in different engagements with the Insurgents....[pray] they may either be allowed further time for the payment of the Installments due to the Crown...or that they may be permitted to resign their Lands upon being reimbursed the expences they have been at for their purchase." Hicks and his officers, less Ferguson, later served in Nova Scotia during the Revolutionary War.

Shortly after signing this petition, Patrick Ferguson returned home to England broken in health and his finances in disarray. He slowly recovered his health and occupied himself in perfecting an improved design for a breechloading, military rifle. Demonstrating such before the King George III in 1776, Ferguson was rewarded with a promotion to major and the command of a corps of 100 British light troops armed with rifles of his pattern, for service in America. Ferguson and his "Corps of British Riflemen" signalized themselves in skirmishes in the 1777 campaign, until Ferguson was shot through the right elbow during the battle of Brandywine; his right arm, although saved from amputation, was fully incapacitated. From this point onwards, this talented partisan leader learned to both write and handle military arms with his left hand, until killed by Patriot riflemen while leading his men in a counterattack during the battle of King's Mountain in western North Carolina on October 7, 1780. Of all Revolutionary War officers, British and American, the signature of Patrick Ferguson's is the rarest and when found, is usually a post-1777 left-handed signature. We have found no record of sale, either at auction or privately, for any pre-battle of Brandywine document or letter bearing a Ferguson signature over the past 100 years, making this a unique opportunity to acquire such, moreover, affixed to an important document detailing the pre-Revolutionary War suppression of slave revolts in the West Indies. CONDITION: Light, uniform toning, some wear to corners, strong ink signatures. From an important Charleston, South Carolina collection. JLK
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,500.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $3,382.50
Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000
Number Bids: 3
Auction closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.
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