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Tuesday, 22 November 2016



It is not certain that this is Sir Henry’s Sword, though it is a fairly typical sword of a Dragoon officer during the Peninsula War, and is engraved with the initials HRC.

A full biography appears in the new edition of ‘Carden of Templemore’ to be issued early in 2017.  Henry was commissioned as a Cornet with the 1st (or Royal) Regiment of Dragoons in September 1807, aged 18.  The regiment arrived in Portugal in April 1809.  In October Henry ‘not only headed a charge with conspicuous gallantry but, following up his advantage too far, had his horse shot under him & was wounded and taken.’  A planned exchange failed and he was held as a POW in France until repatriated in 1814 in time to participate in the battle of Waterloo.

The sword was offered on ebay in August 2016 by a seller in USA, and was bought by Mark Carden.  It had been drawn to Arthur Carden’s attention by Richard Schenk of USA who had discussed it on the forum at  where someone suggested that the initials HRC engraved upon it might be those of Sir Henry.

Schenk wrote:

This is certainly a genuine Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry dress sword of the type worn up to 1821 when it was replaced by the M1821 cavalry sword.  It is mounted with an earlier blade which appears to be from a Scottish broad sword.  It is marked with the name "Andrea Ferrara" (as is traditional with Scottish broad swords), a crowned "GR", and the owner's initials "HRC" in an ornate, hard to decipher style.  From the style, it would appear the initials were etched on the blade at a later time than the other markings, probably when it was rehilted. 

It probably wasn't the blade which was replaced but rather the hilt.  In cases like this when we see an old blade on a newer model sword, it is usually because an officer wanted to use an old family sword when he joined the military, so he would have the blade mounted in a current model hilt and scabbard.  This was a not at all uncommon practice at the time.  This blade could possibly date back to the 17th century;  if so, the Crown/GR etching would have been added sometime in the mid-1700s, and the "HRC" monogram at an even later date.

As to whether Sir Henry wore this sword at Waterloo on other engagements is uncertain.  This was a dress sword.  He probably also had an undress sword which was in a plainer style which was the one usually carried on informal occasions (such as a battle).  This might explain how it survived his capture on the Peninsula - when he was captured he was likely wearing his undress sword while his dress sword was with his fancy full-dress uniform back in camp.  After his release he was probably able to recover his old belongings.

(No other expert opinion is available at present.)

It seems almost certain that this was Sir Henry Robert Carden’s sword. He inherited the baronetcy in 1822 and renamed many of the Templemore streets after Peninsula War battles. Perhaps at that time he had his Waterloo Medal refurbished. It seems likely that he also either obtained this sword and adopted it as his own or had his own genuine sword refurbished.

The sword probably remained with the family in Templemore until the contents of Templemore Abbey were sold at auction in 1921.

1 comment:

John Lehman said...

My website has two coats of arms with the surname Carden.

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