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Thomas Coutts Morison MD

Nick Hervey


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, I've emailed you using some old email addresses I found in a community forum but you may not have received them. Pls contact me on paul.rosenzweig@hotmail.com.
Thanks very much

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I've searched the LG thoroughly and found many entries for civilian surgeons serving with the naval forces, staff surgeons serving with the Army and surgeons attached to the Ottoman Army. Similarly listed were officers attached to the Turkish Contingent or Osmanli Irregular Cavalry and Artillery. All gaining Her Majesty's ‘Royal license and permission’ to accept and wear the Imperial Order of the Medjidie. But for the non-uniformed volunteers like Morison there is no approval to wear listed. It's highly likely they were field awards and the paperwork was never submitted for these foreign legions. A note: the LG lists everyone granted permission to receive and wear the Order. I'm waiting on a book from the US which may list everyone awarded the Order - there may be a subtle difference - but I suspect their roll will just be a repeat of the LG lists.

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Morison’s insignia is a silver star comprising seven triple quills with seven small crescents and five-pointed stars between them, the whole measuring 43 mm in diameter (one of the tips has been broken off). Is there any way to distinguish a 4th Class insignia from a 5th Class, just from the star?

The gold central disc bears the Sultan’s tughra, the Royal Cipher of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I, after whom the Order is named. Around this is a gold-bordered circle of red enamel bearing the words in Arabic script for “Devotion”, “Loyalty” and “Truth” and the Islamic year 1268 AH (1852) on four red enamel plaques. There is a suspension loop present, fitted at the rear, but the entire central disc is out of position by 90º clockwise.

This insignia lacks the typical suspension (a red-enamelled crescent and star suspender with green enamelled edges); this has been removed and the star instead has a horizontal brooch mount on the reverse. The reverse bears a fitted concave silver disc which is engraved in period style to: “Thomas Coutts Morison Staff Surgeon P.M.O. Sultan’s Coʃsacks”, reflecting the writing style of the day.

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