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William Selby's Trafalgar Medal

In July 2017, a Trafalgar Medal (1805) presented to Dorset born, Ordinary Seaman William Selby was sold at auction for £2,200.

The medal had been struck by Matthew Boulton of the Soho Mint in Birmingham on his own initiative. Boulton was embarrassed that there had been no official recognition given to the survivors who had fought in and had won the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805. Sadly, it is said many of these medals were not particularly well received as not being made of silver they were not easily pawned. So, they were just thrown into the sea by some of the ungrateful recipients. The medals were issued in gold to flag officers, in silver to captains and lieutenants but in bronze or white metal to junior officers and men.

William Selby is believed to have originated from Durweston and had volunteered to join the British Navy in April 1803. The following month he transferred to HMS Victory where he served as an Ordinary Seaman during the Battle of Trafalgar. Like many of his Victory shipmates he moved on to HMS Ocean in the Mediterranean in January 1806. Subsequently, he served on HMS Salvador del Mundo, HMS Milford and HMS Prince Frederick. Selby would have served alongside Blandfordian, Samuel Johnson on the Victory, Ocean & Salvador del Mundo.

William Selby was discharged from the British Navy in September 1814.

Finally, in 1847, an official recognition was given to the Trafalgar veterans when the National General Service Medal was issued. However, as by then William Selby had died, he did not qualify for the medal. It was only presented to surviving claimants.  

(Illustrations: William Selby's Trafalgar Medal & Inscription)

(Source: National Archives - Kew)


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