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1822 British Officer's Cavalry sword and the story of its owner, Thomas Hanson Radcliff.

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This is a Pattern 1822/46 Light Cavalry sword. It is 103.5cm long. The 1845 blade design, outlined by Henry Wilkinson, was intended to be a more practical fighting blade than the pipe-backed blade which was used as regulation for officers' swords between 1821 and 1845/6. The slightly curved, polished steel blade is 82.6 cm long. The hilt and the grip is wire wrapped black leather. It is clearly made to withstand wear and use, however, unlike the standard pattern which had a knurled thumb rest, this example only has the outline of the border of where the knurling should be. Instead of a brass proof disk in the ricasso, there is only a circular outline of where one should be. I think this may indicate that it was a later production.

Cavalry officers carried different pattern combat sabres akin to those of the trooper versions, but were often lighter in weight and had higher levels of finish and workmanship. The sword is a single fullered blade design, with crisp deep etching.  The blade is straight and solid in the hilt. The hilt is officially described as a half basket, that is, a three bar, nickel steel design. The twisted triple silver wire is all in place, but the leather grip covering has lifted a bit from below the ferrule.

The blade is engraved T  H  R  1854.  (T H R – Thomas Hanson Radcliff) on one side and the bottom of the other side is marked "Parker Field & Sons, 233 Holborn London". Parker Field and Sons of London were the largest manufacturer by far for the police, prison service and customs.

Thomas Hanson Radcliff was born in 1823 on Portsea Island, Hampshire. Little is known of his family, however, they had sufficient resources to purchase an Infantry Officer’s commission for him on the 3rd of April, 1840. Appointed as Infantry Ensign (@ £450).

The purchase of officer commissions in the British Army was the practice of paying money to be made an officer in the cavalry and infantry regiments of the English and later British Army. By making a payment, a commission as an officer could be secured, avoiding the need to wait to be promoted for merit or seniority. It ensured that the officer class was largely filled by persons having a vested interest in maintaining the social and political status quo; thereby reducing the possibility of the military taking part in a revolution or coup. It ensured that officers had some private means and were less likely to engage in looting or pillaging or to cheat the soldiers under their command by engaging in profiteering using army supplies.

Ensign Thomas Hanson Radcliff was commissioned and posted to the 1st Battalion, 2nd (The Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot in 1840. The battalion was stationed in the Desa Barracks, in Bombay. He was promoted Lieutenant on the 16th of August 1842.  He saw combat service with the battalion in September, 1842 in Afghanistan, taking part in the Battle of / Retreat from Kabul, and was again in combat in 1844 in the Maratha Gwalior Campaign. He was eligible for the campaign medal and clasp.


From 1852 until 1859 he was posted as Paymaster, 9th Regiment (Queen's Royal) Lancers, stationed at Umballah, in Bengal. Conforming to dress regulations, he purchased THIS 1822 light cavalry sword, using his wages to buy a personalised blade. He saw combat service again between May, 1857 and March, 1858, in the siege & capture of Delhi and the relief of Lucknow Delhi, although, how much of this was ‘combat’ is hard to define. He was however, eligible for the Medal with clasp.

In January, 1860 he changed course yet again and was posted, as Paymaster Grade 3 to the Headquarters in Calcutta as paymaster to the Royal Artillery in India between 1860 and 1863. During this time he was promoted, Hon. Major, (10th January, 1860). Between 1864 and 1865 he was paymaster of the Military Train (Commissary) in India. Between 1866 and 1871 he was posted as Paymaster Grade 3 to the 3rd Battalion, The Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade in Rawul Pindee.

Major Thomas Radcliff returned to England, in January 1872, stationed in Portsmouth, with the 3rd Battalion, The Prince Consort’s Own Rifle Brigade. He retired that year to Portsea Island, Hampshire, England and died in April, 1873.           

THR Sword engravings.png

1822 Cavalry Sword.JPG

Title and 9th (Queens Royal) Lancers.JPG

Officer, 9th Lancers, 1860.JPG

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