24 October 2014
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NEF, 250
RNLI Silver Medal (GIV type, in case of issue)
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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution | named to 'Mr John G Anderson, voted 3rd April 1851' for a rescue in Cornwall, EF, ?850
RNLI Silver medal (GIV type), named 'MR. JOHN G. ANDERSON, VOTED 3rd APRIL 1851.', in its case of issue (this slightly damaged). On 14 February 1851 the French brig 'Fletan' was caught in a heavy gale off the south east coast of Cornwall and cut down her larger mast in an effort to weather the storm. The brig however ran aground in Whitsand Bay and was wrecked. John G Anderson, who was the Chief Officer of HM Coastguard at the nearby Downderry station, waded into the sea up to his arms, took a rope from one of the brig's crew who had jumped over the side, and with the help of this managed to bring off the other eight crew members (see B Cox 'Lifeboat Gallantry', p. 96). The French government also granted Anderson a silver medal for his bravery in this rescue (see ADM 196/74).

Born in Sandwich, Kent, in about 1821, the son of John and Rebecca Anderson, John Grimsdale Anderson [also noted as Grinedale, Grinsdale, and Gurnsdall] was the son of the Rev Mason Anderson (1791-1873), rector of Sherrington, and his wife Charlotte Grimsdale (1795-1870). He appears on the 1841 census living in with parents in Gravesend, Kent (HO107/0458/10/13). Anderson joined the RN apparently as a Second Master on 13 February 1848, being promoted Master on 20 April 1850, and going on to serve aboard HMS 'Resistance' (having been previously on the 'Atholl'). He was appointed to HM Coastguard on 28 August 1850. By 1851 he appears at Downderry, St Germans, Cornwall, in Coastguard. In June 1851 he married Jane Poppleton in London, at which time he was still describing himself as a 'Master, RN'. Anderson then is noted in The Times (18 August 1854) as having transferred from the Coast Guard to the 'Harrier', 8, Screw Steam sloop. (The 'Harrier' captured the Finnish barque 'Victoria' on 23 June 1855 and served in the Baltic Campaign in 1856 which would have entitled Anderson the that campaign medal assuming he was still aboard). According to his ADM 196/74 file he was however placed on the Reserved List from 2 September 1854. The 1861 census records him as a Master in the Royal Navy in Gravesend, Kent, and as now being married to Jane (born c.1821 in Pontefract) with one child: John R M (born c.1853 in Downderry) (RG9/0470/102). The 1871 census notes him as a Staff commander with the Reserve in Northfleet, Kent (RG10/0895/8). Ten years later, in 1881, he appears as a Staff commander RN (retired) in Ottery St Mary, Devon (RG11/2134/76), while the 1891 census has him living as a widower in St German, Cornwall (RG12/1807/51), and the 1901 census lists him in Heavitree, Devon (RG13/2033/31). John G Anderson died age 82 on 13 November 1903 (St Thomas, Devon, Register District, Oct-Dec 1903, 5b/32), leaving an estate valued at ?446, his son (Major John Richard Mason Anderson) being the executor.
Reference: www.genuki.org.uk/big/Coastguards/A-B.html

A very crisp example of this medal, particularly scarce with its original case of issue, and to a Coastguard Chief Officer/RN officer. The medal is numismatically interesting in that it was struck from the new die introduced around this period, though has the traditional applied silver naming band around the edge, with ring suspension. This is clearly one of the last examples of this, as the familiar double dolphin suspender was introduced probably either later this year or in early 1852. Sold with initial research details (TNA files ADM 196/21 and 74). EF, ?850

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© Specialist Medals 2011