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 British Artiques Roadshow The Wexforqd  Irish Civil War Medal of  1799

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General Sir John Moore by James Northcote

General Sir John Moore by James Northcote

Supression of the Irish Rebellion at Wexford:

The story of the Wexford  Irish Civil War Medal of  1799

Discovered in the Ontario Bush!

 

 

 

 

 The relief of Wexford, a town situated on the south - eastern tip of Ireland,  occurred on June 21st, 1799, during the 1798 Irish rebellion and its success, generally attributed to General Sir John Moore, the British Major-General of Ireland at the time.

However, there is more to the story:

 

 

 

 

 

Relief of Wexford town silver gallantry medal

Relief of Wexford town silver gallantry medal

 Found in the Ontario bush, was this silver medal awarded to John Stethan, a young corporal in the Wexford cavalry in 1799

 

It refers to an event which took place during the Irish civil war and is discussed by Sir Richard Musgrave, in his account of the rebellion which is below.

 Sir Richard Musgrave collected large amounts of information and evidence relating to the uprising and published his findings in 1801 as: Memoirs of the different rebellions in Ireland from the arrival of the English, with particular detail of that which broke out the 23rd of May, 1798; the history of the conspiracy which preceded it, and the characters of the principal actors in it.

Although the work was detailed, Musgrave's conclusions were both sectarian and controversial.

A transcript of the engraving on the medal is as follows:

 

E Bez R ( Ebenezer) Jacob, Mayor:

 

On the 23rd of June 1799, this medal was voted to John Stethan, a corporal in the Wexford Yeomanry Corps of cavalry.

 

It is locally engraved by hand and continues:

 

For his gallantry in volunteering to attend his Captain, James Boyd Esq.,who at the head of his First Lieutenant and eight privates of his troop was the first to enter the town, 21st June 1798 then in possession of the rebels in hereby relieving many of the loyal inhabitants who expected a general massacre.

 

 

 

 

 

An account of the relief of Wexford town

"When General Moore's army was within about two miles of Wexford, they perceived the house of a protestant in the suburbs on fire, from which they concluded, that the rebels were burning the town.

Mr. James Boyd, representative for the town, who commanded the Wexford Cavalry, trembling for the fate of his wife and children, asked permission of the general for him and as many of the yeoman cavalry as would accompany him, to push forward to the town and to make a desperate effort to save their families and their property.

The following persons, with great magnanimity, volunteered in that perilous service, and ran a risk of devoting their own lives to save the property and lives of the protestant inhabitants who remained in the town; they were all members of the corps but one. Captain James Boyd, member of parliament, Lieutenant Percival, high sheriff for the county, Corporal John Stetham, Corporal William Hughes, A.H. Jacob, of the Enniscorthy corps and the following privates, John Tench, Joseph Sutton, Archer Bayly, Marcus Doyle, Abraham Howlin, John Byrne, and William M’Cabe, Mr Boyd’s servant. Christopher Irwine, permanent sergeant of the troop, followed them rapidly on foot, his horse having been shot.

They dashed into the town with a degree of valour bordering on despair, and announced with a loud voice, that the army was at their heels.

This gave the rebels such an electric shock, that, panic struck, they fled in all directions, some over the bridge, others to the barony of Forth.

Their consternation was so great, that very few of them attempted in their flight to injure the inhabitants of the town.”

 

As history has it, the rebellion was crushed with great brutality,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relief of Wexford town gallantry medal 

                                                       

                                                                            

Relief of Wexford town gallantry medal  reverse.

 

 

William Sadler: Vinegar Hill

Painting by William Sadler: Vinegar Hill, the charge of the 5th Dragoon Guards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irish Rebellion: A Background:

 

 Throughout the 1700's, there had been unrest and upset for many years in Ireland as a result of the British government's poor attitude towards Catholics.

As a result, clandestine societies formed within the Irish Catholic working class communities such as the 'Defenders' and the 'United Irishmen'.

Europe at the time was in the early stages of a long war following the French Revolution and Britain was gearing itself up to fight against France.

These subversive Catholic groups, perhaps spurred on by Liberte et Fraternite soon roused the peasantry into open rebellion.

One of the fiercest battle of the rebellion occurred at Arklow, a British held garrison town on 9th June.

The rebels numbered 20,000 and all were well armed. The British, a 1200 strong military garrison under the command of Major-General Francis Needham.

The Irish casualties soon mounted as the lack of ammunition and proper leadership began to work against them. As nightfall came, the rebels began to withdraw under cover of darkness and collect their wounded.

The Irish left behind over 1,000 dead in and around the town with casualties to the garrison amounting to some 60 dead and 100 wounded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Freeman - 2008

Contact

Photographs courtesy: Jackie Freeman Specialist Photography

Many thanks to Celestine Rafferty

Senior Library Assistant, Library HQ

Ardcavan, Wexfor

 

 

Lieutenant Percival, the high sheriff for the county was awarded the same medal but in Gold. This is recounted in:

A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland.
By John Burke.

He too was presented a medal by the Corporation of Wexford but in gold bearing the following inscription:

E Bez R ( Ebenezer) Jacob, Mayor:

On the 23rd of June 1799, this medal was voted to Edward Perceval esq,

First Leutenant, of the Wexford Yeomanry Corps of cavalry.

For his gallantry in volunteering to attend his captain, James Boyd Esq.,

who at the head of his Lieutenant and eight privates of his troop was the first

to enter the town, 21st June 1798 then in possession of the rebels in hereby

relieving many of the loyal inhabitants who expected a general masacre.

Ebernezer Jacobs, Mayor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postcard 1798 rebellion

A postcard created in 1898 to commemorate the

centenary of the 1798 rebellion

 

 

 The rebels had set up their 'government' in Wexford and the British marched upon

20,000 rebels on Vinegar Hill just outside the town, subjecting them to a devastating bombardment of artillery which was to finally break them.

 The Irish themselves retreated in great numbers where upon the British cavalry were unleashed upon them followed by the infantry who massacred hundreds of the stragglers and wounded including women and children.

The combination of the cavalry and infantry attack was made even more murderous by the British artillery field guns which, loaded with grape shot to maximise casualties among the fleeing masses set out to annihilate them.

In all, the rebels lost 500 souls.

 

 

 

 

                                           

 

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Wexford Irish Civil War Medal 1799 | Relief of Wexford town gallantry medal awarded to John Stethen by the town mayor, Ebernezer Jacob | Roadshow Canada Canadian Treasures discovered

Roadhsow, Wexford, Irish, rebellion, Irish rebellion, siver medal, medal, relief of Wexford, Ebenezer Jacobs, mayor, mayor of Wexford,  Wexford town, general, Sir John Moore, Wexford yeomanry, yeomanry, John Stethan, James Boyd, Lieutenant Percival,  Corporal John Stetham, William Hughes, A.H. Jacob,  Enniscorthy corps, John Tench, Joseph Sutton, Archer Bayly, Marcus Doyle, Abraham Howlin, John Byrne, William M'Cabe, Christopher Irwine, battle, Vinegar hill, corporation of Wexford, sadler, James Northcote , postcard, 5th Dragoon Guards, battle, Arklow,

Ontario, cavalry, Supression of the Irish Rebellion, Irish civil war medal, relief of Wexford, Major-General of Ireland, British, account of the rebellion, account, rebellion, gallantry, captain, massacre, Wexford town,

Mayor, William Sadler, Vinegar Hill, painting William Sadler, United Irishmen, Irish casualties, Irish, artillery, casulties, David Freeman, Canada, Canadian, photographs, Jackie Freeman, Battle,