Small-sword, which belonged to Major-General William Souter, Royal Marines (active 1758-1794). The hilt consists of a silver gilt small-sword hilt, Adam pommel and rudimenatry pas d'ane. The wooden grip is bound with silver wire, of which only half now remains. Engraved on the shell is an anchor crossed with a flag twice, crossed flags (twice), with a spray of foliage under each design. On the pommel is an anchor crossed with a flag (twice), crossed swords (twice), a spray of foliage under each design. On the Ricasso is an anchor, flag and sword crossed, with foliage behind on each side, one trophy being also crossed with a spear. The triangular blade is hallmarked, has a lion passant, leopard's face, and date letter Gothic 'f' for 1761. There is a 'W.D' for William Kersill. This small-sword reached the Museum with the attribution to the Souter family. It therefore probably belonged to William Souter. He was one of the original fifty second lieutenants when the Marine Corps was formed in 1755. He was captain of Marines of the Medway in Saunders' fleet and one of the company commanders of the battalion of marines landed from the fleet during the siege of Quebec. From mid 1760 to the end of the war he was in the Mediterranean. Souter commanded the light company of the battalion sent to join the army in Boston at the end of 1774 with drafts, the battalion became two battalions, and he led the Light company of the 2nd. The first fought at Bunkers Hill in the following year; as did the 2nd's Grenadier company; but opinions differ as to whether the 2nd's Light company was present at the battle. Thus Souter may or may not have fought in the battle. The Grenadier and Light companies of both battalions, however, were with the column and he marched out of Boston to Concord and was present at Lexington. Souter remained with the unit in Nova Scotia until invalided in July 1778. He was commandant of the Plymouth Division February 1793 to February 1795, when he became Head of Corps ('Commandant Resident in London'), and in 1797 or thereabouts changed his name to William Souter Johnstone. Major-General W.S. Johnstone was promoted Lieutenant-General 1st January 1801, and continued as Head of the Corps until 20 December 1803. His chief claim to Marine Corps fame is that he was chair when the Marines became the Royal Marines. He died in 1817. Career as follows: Captain, 22 April 1758; Major, 27 July 1775; Lieutenant-Colonel, 23 August 1779; Colonel-Commandant, 30 August 1791; Major-General, 3 October 1794.

Object Details

ID: WPN1218
Collection: Weapons
Type: Sword
Display location: Display - Atlantic Gallery
Creator: Kersill, William; William Kersill
Date made: 1761
Exhibition: The Atlantic: Slavery, Trade, Empire; War and Conflict
People: Souter Johnstone, William; William Kersill
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Blade: 743 x 17 mm

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