DOUBTS HAVE BEEN RAISED OVER THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE HENRY HARTIGAN VICTORIA CROSS HELD BY THE NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME MUSEUM, STAFFORDSHIRE.
28 September 2010

The Victoria Cross and campaign medals awarded to Sergeant Henry Hartigan, 9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers, an Indian Mutiny award, are held by the Newcastle-under-Lyme Museum and Art Gallery in Staffordshire. The Victoria Cross group was acquired by the museum in 1948 as part of a large collection of medals donated to the museum by a Major Hawley of Barlaston. A notebook which accompanies the medal collection states the Victoria Cross, Punjab Medal and Indian Mutiny Medal, were purchased by Major Hawley for the sum of £52.10 but does not say where he acquired them.

However, after careful inspection of the Victoria Cross it would appear the Cross is not authentic having an unusual method of engraving ( see below & image ). The firm of Hancocks has confirmed their company records do not show any VC being engraved in this way and when comparing the engraving to another 9th Lancers Indian Mutiny medal awarded at the same time ( see below ) the engraving on the Hartigan VC does not match. Although the dates of Hartigan's VC actions does compare with the London Gazette citation.

The impressed naming on Henry Hartigan's Punjab Medal and Indian Mutiny Medal does compare favourably with other 9th Lancers campaign medals of the time and do appear authentic, although Hartigan's name is misspelt on both medals. The clasp identities of 'Chilianwala', Goojerat' and 'Delhi' are comensurate with Henry Hartigan's entitlement. ( Hartigan was seriously wounded during this VC action at Delhi and therefore did not take part in further campaigns at Lucknow ).


Medal entitlement of Sergeant Henry Hartigan,
9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers

  • Victoria Cross
  • Punjab Medal ( 1848-49 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Chilianwala" - "Goojerat"
  • Indian Mutiny Medal ( 1857-58 )
    • 1 clasp:
    • "Delhi"

enlarge


Method of engraving on reverse centre of Hartigan's Victoria Cross ( see image )
SERJT
H HARTIGAN
9TH LANCERS
8TH JUNE & OCT
10TH 1857

Impressed naming on Hartigan's campaign medals
Punjab Medal - H HARTAGAN, 9TH LANCERS
Indian Mutiny Medal - SERJT H HARTAGAN, 9TH LANCERS


Method of engraving on reverse lower ribbon suspension bar on Robert Kells' genuine 9th Lancers VC
LANCE CORPL. R. KELLS
9TH LANCERS

Method of engraving on reverse centre of Robert Kells' genuine 9th Lancers VC
28 SEP
1857


For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 19 June 1860 ], Budle-ke-Serai, Near Delhi, Indian Mutiny, 8 June & 10 October 1857, Sergeant Henry Hartigan, 9th ( Queen's Royal ) Lancers.

For daring and distinguished gallantry in the following instances: -

At the battle of Budle-ke Serai, near Delhi, on the 8th June 1857, in going to the assistance of Serjeant H. Helstone, who was wounded, dismounted, and surrounded by the enemy, and at the risk of his own life, carrying him to the rear.

On the 10th October 1857, at Agra, in having run unarmed to the assistance of Serjeant Crews, who was attacked by four rebels. Hartigan caught a tulwar from one of them with his right hand, and with the other hit him on the mouth, disarmed him, and then defended himself against the other three, killing one and wounding two, when he was himself disabled from further service by severe and dangerous wounds.

Henry Hartigan was invested with his Victoria Cross by Lady Hersey at Fort William, Calcutta, on the 24th December 1860.


Henry Hartigan died on the 29th October 1886, aged 60, at Calcutta, and was buried in the city's Barrackpore New Cemetery. The grave is unmarked.

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Iain Stewart, 28 September 2010