A HISTORY OF THE VICTORIA CROSS AWARDED TO ABLE SEAMAN GEORGE HINCKLEY, ROYAL NAVY, AND THE VARIOUS COPIES THAT HAVE SURFACED OVER TIME.
21 March 2008


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A 'copy' Victoria Cross named to Able Seaman George Hinckley, Royal Navy, an 1862 Second China War award, has been sold by the auctioneers Smith and Wilde at a medal sale held at the Royal Armouries, Leeds, on 21st March 2008.

This VC is believed to be the Cross that was held by the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth ( see below ). The VC realised a hammer price of £800 and was purchased by an anonymous buyer.


After winning his Victoria Cross in China in 1862 George Hinckley was invested with his VC by CinC Plymouth, Admiral Houston Stewart, at Devonport on the 7th July 1863. At the time Hinckley was serving as Quartermaster on HMS 'Royalist' and in November of the same year he reported the loss of his VC whilst attending a funeral in Plymouth. The War Office informed the Admiralty on the 23rd November 1863 that Hinckley's Cross would be replaced subject to the Admiralty being satisfied that conditions for replacement were complied with.

Hinckley died on the 31st December 1904 and was buried in Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth. His Victoria Cross surfaced when it was sold at auction on the 1st January 1925 for £43, and again on 19th July 1962 when it was bought by the respected medal dealer Baldwin's, who purchased the VC at a Glendining's auction for £440. The VC was engraved "GEORGE HINCKLEY, ABLE SEAMAN, 9TH, OCTR, 1862".

Almost immediately after the sale of Hinckley's VC at the Glending auction of 19th July 1962, the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth claimed they held the original replacement Victoria Cross, which had been hanging in the Barrack Wardroom for at least forty years. The VC was engraved "G. HINCKLEY, OCT. 9TH. 1862" and was hung from a blue ribbon.

A director of Glendining's stated "we are satisfied that the medal we sold was genuine after being examined by Hancocks who gave it a clean bill of health". Glendining's suggested to the RN Barracks that they also submit their VC to Hancocks for verification, which they did, and after examination was declared an "excellent copy", but was not genuine.

Following the 19th July sale, and to make matters even more confusing, a third Victoria Cross was taken into Glendining's office by an anonymous person claiming it was the original Hinckley VC. After examination it was dismissed by Glendining's and Hancocks as a copy. This VC was engraved "GEO. HINCKLEY A.B., OCTOBER, 9TH, 1962.

The Glendining's Victoria Cross was next seen at a Sotheby's auction, held on the 10th November 1988, where it was described in the sale catalogue as "The official replacement 'Second China War' Victoria Cross", engraved as above to, "GEORGE HINCKLEY, ABLE SEAMAN, 9TH, OCTR, 1862". The Cross was sold to an anonymous buyer for £3,630.

It is known that a fourth George Hinckley Victoria Cross, which is in private hands, was acquired from an unknown source in 1991, the buyer believing it to be the replacement VC issued to Hinckley in November 1863. The engraving on this particular VC, "AB GEO HINCKLEY, 9TH, OCT, 1862", is what might be expected of a Hancocks produced Cross. However, the provenance of this VC has not yet been proven.


[ London Gazette, 6 February 1863 ], Fung-Wha, China, 9 October 1862, Able Seaman George Hinckley, Royal Navy ( Naval Brigade ).

For volunteering while under the East Gate of the city of Fung-Wha, to carry to a joss house, a hundred and fifty yards distant, under a heavy and continuous fire of musketry, gingalls and stink-pots, Mr Coker, Master's Assistant of the "Sphinx", who had been wounded in the advance to the gate; in which object Hinckley succeeded. On his return to the gate, under a similar fire, he again volunteered and succeeded in carrying to the joss-house Mr Bremer, an officer of Ward's force, who had also been wounded in the advance on the gate; and he again returned to his post under the gate.

George Hinckley was invested with his Victoria Cross by CinC Plymouth, Admiral Houston Stewart, at Devonport on the 7th July 1863.


Medal entitlement of Able Seaman George Hinckley - Royal Navy ( HMS 'Sphinx' ) Naval Brigade

  • Victoria Cross
  • Second China War Medal - ( 1857-60 )

Engraving on official replacement VC:

GEORGE HINCKLEY
ABLE SEAMAN
9TH
OCTR
1862

Engraving on Smith & Wilde 'copy' VC:

G. HINCKLEY
OCT 9TH
1862

Engraving on second 'copy' VC:

GEO. HINCKLEY A.B.
OCTOBER
9TH
1862

Engraving on fourth ( privately held ) VC:

AB GEO. HINCKLEY
9TH
OCT
1862

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Iain Stewart, 21 March 2008