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Swords and medals of Royal Navy commander who lost his ship to the French for sale at Bonhams
A pair of oil paintings by Francis Sartorius (1734-1804) depicting the action for which Farquhar was awarded his Lloyds sword are to be offered in the upcoming sale of Marine Pictures to be held at Bond Street on 13 September (estimate: £8,000-10,000). Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A Lloyds Patriotic Fund sword awarded to Arthur Farquhar will be offered by Bonhams Knightsbridge on 30 November with an estimate £60,000 to £80,000. Farquhar, Commander of HMS Acheron, survived the ultimate Royal Navy catastrophe of losing his ship to a French man of war, but in the subsequent court martial he was acquitted of any wrongdoing and complimented for his actions which were described as 'highly meritorious and deserving imitation'.

In a naval action off Malta while on convoy duty to 35 ships, he took on a much larger French adversary and after a stiff fight was overcome by a ship with many times the firepower of his own.

David Williams, Director the Antique Arms and Armour Department at Bonhams, comments: “Farquhar is the living embodiment of the plucky naval officer who helped Britain to rule the waves by his willingness to take on overwhelming odds, typical of many men of his time”.

Arthur Farquhar was born in 1772 and joined the Navy at the age of 15. He served as lieutenant on various ships until promoted to commander in 1802 and in January 1804 he took command of the Acheron.

At dawn on the 3rd February 1805, in the company of the sloop Arrow, he was escorting a convoy of 35 merchant ships from Malta to England when two large ships were sighted. After a series of manoeuvres and signals the ships were identified as two French frigates, the Hortense (40 guns) and Incorruptible (38 guns). After an exchange of fire which considerably damaged the Acheron's rigging and sails, night fell. Dawn the following day saw the action continue and by 8.30 a.m. the Arrow, which had been totally disabled, struck her colours to the Incorruptible, twenty minutes later the badly damaged Acheron hauled down her colours to the French warship Hortense.

The action of these two greatly out-gunned and out-manned ships allowed all but three of the convoy to avoid capture and proceed safely to England. At his court-martial on the 28th March 1805 Farquhar was honourably acquitted and the action was described as 'highly meritorious and deserving imitation'. On the 8th April he was promoted to post-captain and later awarded a sword by the Patriotic Fund and a piece of plate by the Merchants of Malta.

He continued to see active service in the Baltic and North Sea, capturing numerous privateers and commanded naval operations in the Weser, the Ems and the Elbe and at the capture of Glückstadt in 1814. For these services he was made a Knight of the Sword of Sweden and also of the Hanoverian Guelphic Order. In 1815 he was made a C.B.

From 1830 to 1833 he commanded the Blanche (48 guns) in the West Indies as Commodore and for his services there during the slave revolt received the thanks of the House of Assembly of Jamaica and a sword of £150 value. He was knighted on his return to England, attained the rank of rear-admiral in 1837 and died in 1843.

Farquhar’s Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund sword of £100 value (estimate: £60,000-80,000) and his sword of £150 value awarded to him by the House of Assembly of Jamaica in 1832 (estimate: £5,000-7,000) are to be offered in Bonhams next sale of Antique Arms and Armour to be held at Knightsbridge on 30 November.

A pair of oil paintings by Francis Sartorius (1734-1804) depicting the action for which Farquhar was awarded his Lloyds sword are to be offered in the upcoming sale of Marine Pictures to be held at Bond Street on 13 September (estimate: £8,000-10,000).

Farquhar’s medals will be offered in the next ‘For Valour and Gallantry’ sale to be held at Knightsbridge on 28 September.

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