The story of Strathspey Fencibles is not to be overlooked
A silver George III snuffbox, presented to ‘good Sir James’, who served as a Member of Parliament for what was then Elginshire and later as a Member of Parliament for Banffshire, is one of the objects of particular interest during an auction held at the prestigious Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury next week on Wednesday July 14th.
The box, which bears the inscription “Presented by the Western Abernethy Company of Volunteers to James Grant of Birchfield their Captain”, was presented by the men to Sir James Grant, 8th Baronet of Colquhoun, who raised the Strathspey Volunteer Battalion in 1798.
The battalion was part of a network of volunteer units raised across the country after the French Revolution when it seemed war between France and Britain was inevitable.
Sir James, who owned large estates in Strathspey, first raised a voluntary unit, the Grant Fencibles, almost entirely from his tenant in 1793. Fencibles (from the word defensible), were raised in the late 18th and early 18th centuries. 19th century, to defend against the threat of invasion during the Seven Years’ War, the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.
Usually assigned to local missions on patrol or in garrison, their presence allows the regular army to devote itself to more offensive operations.
The Grant Fencibles were dissolved six years later.
Grant then raised the Strathspey Volunteer Battalion which first assembled at Grantown-on-Spey in 1798.
There were two companies, Eastern and Western Abernethy, and Grant became captain of the 80-strong Western Company.
Born in Moray, James Grant succeeded his father as Member of Parliament for Elginshire in 1761, holding the seat until 1768.
In 1783 he was one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
He returned to politics in 1790, serving as MP for Banffshire until 1795 and Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire.
He died at the Castle Grant family headquarters in 1811 at the age of 72.
The snuffbox, made by Alexander Gardner and Co of Edinburgh in 1802, is valued between £ 2,000 and £ 3,000. I
It is one of 24 snuffboxes in the Lion Collection, a grouping that ranks some of the most interesting, rare and varied examples of antique British silver boxes, which will go under the hammer at the two-day auction of the July 13 and 14. .
Another item from the Lion Collection, an 18th-century Scottish provincial snuff dish, made by Robert Anderson of Inverness around 1760 and valued between £ 800 and £ 1,200 is also on sale.
The auction includes several other notable Scottish lots, including a George III silver soup tureen, valued at £ 3,000-4,000, which bears the coat of arms of St Clair, Earls of Rosslyn is also up for auction.
The family owns the Rosslyn Chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code.
Curling fans might also be interested in a silver-mounted hard stone Scottish inkwell in the shape of a curling stone with a hinged handle that slides sideways to show off the well.
The Victorian novelty item, bearing a crest attributed to Bendyshe, Cramer, Doran and more, is inscribed “From G and FC”.
Measuring just 7.3cm (just under 3 inches), it goes on sale with a valuation of between £ 200 and £ 300.
For more information on how to bid online or over the phone for Vertu Money & Items visit www.woolleyandwallis.co.uk