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Thomas Coutts Morison MD

Nick Hervey

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I am trying to discover if Thomas Coutts Morison's Medjidie medal is genuine. I have details of his enlistment in the Turkish Contingent in London in 1855, and I know from letters found in Australia that he served in the Crimea with Count Zamoyski's Sultan's Cossacks. I can find no record in the various London Gazettes of his having been awarded the medal but I have seen pictures of a medal which has been auctioned at various times in recent years, and it is engraved on the back with Thomas Coutts Morison, PMO (Principal Medical Officer) Sultan's Cossacks, and has been turned into a brooch. Does anyone know if the Sultan issued medal to the Contingent separately to those gazetted for British army officers? Morison's medal was part of his possessions when he died in Rockhampton, New South Wales. I suspect he may have obtained a medal and had it engraved for himself, but be interested to know if the Turks awarded any medals to British citizens in the Turkish Contingent, not gazetted in London.



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Hi Nick.
The Sultan of Turkey had some cossacks – funded by the British Government, but Polish in origin. They owe their existence to Michal Czajkowski (1804-1886), who declared his ambition to command the Cossacks in the Crimea under the Polish crown. Czajkowski arranged to be appointed as Chief Commander of the Sultan’s Cossacks, and obtained certificates from the Turkish government for Generals Zamoyski, Chrzanowski, Bystrzonowski and Breanski to serve in his command. After various early successes, command and control faltered, and a disagreement festered and became personal in nature, leading to Wladyslaw Zamoyski breaking away to form a Polish division of “Cossacks of the Sultan in the service of Great Britain”. So Morison was indeed with the Sultan’s Cossacks in the Crimea, but as far as I can tell they were not part of General Vivian’s Turkish Contingent. Rather, they were Poles.

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Morison’s name cannot be found in the London Gazette being granted permission, nor is he listed in rolls extracted from the London Gazette . Morrison and his fellow surgeons were indeedactually and entirely employed, beyond Her Majesty’s dominions, in the service of the foreign sovereign by whom the Order is conferred”, but perhaps the Orders had been awarded ‘in the field’ without formal notification through the usual channels to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs[ii]. This might particularly be the case if it was bestowed on behalf of the Sultan by General Zamoyski.



Floyd, J B (2000)
The Turkish Order of the Medjidie awarded to officers of the British Army and Royal Navy for services in the Crimea
. The Orders & Medals Society of America, Medal Notes No.9. California, USA.

[ii] “Regulations regarding Foreign Orders and Medals”, Foreign Office, 10 May
1855, published in the London Gazette
No.21714 dated 18 May 1855, pp.1916-1917.

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