In my previous blog entitled “The 1815 Reorganization of the Order of the Bath – Part 1”, I discussed the establishment of the newly created three classes of the Order of the Bath and expanded on aspects of the First Class or Knights Grand Cross (G.C.B.). This blog, Part 2, will expand on the criteria for the nomination of the Second Class or Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) and the numismatics of the respective neck badge and star. Part 3, the last of this series, will cover similar aspects for the Third Class or Companion (C.B.) of the Order of the Bath.
Knight Commander (K.C.B.) Criteria
As previously noted in Part 1, the official Warrant, dated January 2, 1815, created the three new classes of the Order of the Bath as published in the London Gazette on January 3rd, 1815. This Warrant was very significant in that it had not been previously possible to reward lower level Army and Naval Officers through the few available British Orders of Knighthood. The Warrant would also effectively terminate the further issuance of British Naval Gold Medals, Army Gold Medals & Army Gold Crosses in any future conflict. Thus, the Order of the Bath would become the primary means to rewards those Army Officers who distinguished themselves in the Waterloo Campaign some six months later from June 16-18, 1815.
Within the above Warrant were further details regarding the nomination criteria for the Knights Commanders of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) summarized as follows (1):
- Knights Commanders shall have and enjoy in all future solemnities and procedings, Place and Precedence before all Knights Bachelors of he United Kingdom, and shall enjoy all and singular the rights, privileges, and immunities enjoyed by the said Knights Bachelors.
- Upon the first institution of the Knights Commanders, the number shall not exceed 180, exclusive of Foreign Officers holding British Commissions, of whom a number, not exceeding ten, may be admitted into the Second Class as Honorary Knights Commanders. In the event of actions of signal distinction, or of future Wars, the number may be increased by the appointment of Officers who shall be eligible according to the regulations and restrictions now established.
- No person shall be eligible as a Knight Commander of the Bath who does not actually hold at the time of his nomination, a Commission in His Majesty’s Army or Navy: such commission not being below the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, or of Post-Captain in the Navy.
- Knights Commanders shall wear the appropriate Badge by a red ribbon around the neck, and further shall wear the appropriate Star, embroidered on the left side of his upper vestment.
In addition to the Warrant dated January 2nd, 1815 , an additional Warrant was published in the London Gazette dated January 6th, 1815 that extended the number of awards of the Knight Commander Class to Officers of the Honourable East India Company (2):
January 6, 1815
His Royal Highness the Prince Regent acting in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, having taken into consideration the eminent services which have been rendered to the Empire by the Officers in the Service of the Honourable East India Company, has been pleased to ordain, that Fifteen of the most distinguished Officers of the said Service, holding Commissions from His Majesty not below the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, may be raised to the dignity of Knights Commanders of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, exclusive of the number of Knights Commanders belonging to His Majesty’s Forces by Sea and Land, who have been nominated by the Ordinance bearing date the 2nd instant……
Knight Commander (K.C.B.) Awards to Napoleonic Veterans
The breakdown of the first (180) Knights Commanders and (10) Honorary Knights Commanders in foreign services announced in the London Gazette on January 3, 1815 were as follows (3):
Officers of the Royal Navy (77):
♦ (11) Admirals ♦ (23) Vice Admirals ♦ (24) Rear-Admirals ♦ (19) Post-Captains
Officers of the Army (103):
♦ (9) Lieutenant-Generals ♦ (37) Major-Generals ♦ (22) Colonels ♦ (35) Lieutenant-Colonels
Honorable Awards in Foreign Service:
♦ (3) Lieutenant-Generals ♦ (4) Major -Generals ♦ (1) Colonel ♦ (2) Lieutenant-Colonels
Subsequent awards of a Knight Commander of the Bath (K.C.B.) to additional British Army and Naval Officers who served in the Napoleonic Wars happened under the following (2) circumstances:
- Those British Army and Naval Officers who received a Companion of the Bath (C.B.) for distinguished service and later elevated to a Knight Commander of the Bath (K.C.B.) upon the death (and subsequent vacancy) of a previous Knight Commander.
- Those British Army and Naval Officers, veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, that received a Knight Commander of the Bath (K.C.B.) for later distinguished services in the numerous global campaigns up to and beyond the Crimean War.
Lieutenant General Sir Rufane Shawe Donkin, K.C.B, G.C.H. (Figure 1) was one such early Peninsular War hero who benefited from the creation of the Knight Commander Class of the Order of the Bath. Donkin entered the Army as an Ensign in the 44th Foot in 1778 and participated in the taking of Martinique, Guadaloupe and St. Lucie in 1794 as well as other actions in the West Indies through 1804. He participated in the expedition and siege of Copenhagen in 1807. In 1808, Donkin was appointed Colonel by Brevet and was posted to Portugal as Deputy Quarter-Master General in 1808-1809. He later commanded a Brigade and participated in the attack of the rear guard of the enemy at Salamonde, at the Battle of Talavera and in the retreat on Portugal in December, 1809. He was awarded the Small Army Gold Medal for Talavera as worn in Figure 1 (4). As a newly promoted Major General, he traveled to India and was nominated a K.C.B. on October 14, 1818 in recognition of his distinguished services as a divisional commander in Hastings’ operations against the Mahrattas (1817-1818). In 1821 he was promoted Lieutenant General and awarded a Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order (G.C.H.). His Small Army Gold Medal, K.C.B. neck badge and star and G.C.H. star are all visible in Figure 1.
Sir Thomas Munro, K.C.B. (shown in Figure 2) was a benefactor of the expansion of the 15 Knights Commanders for the Honourable East India Company per the January 6th Warrant shown above. He served in the Third Anglo-Mysore War (1780–1783) against Haider Ali and the Third Anglo-Mysore War against Tipu Sultan. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan at Seringapatam in 1799, Thomas was responsible for bringing order to Kanara and then in put charge of the Northern Districts ceded by the Nizam of Hyderabad. Thomas then commanded the reserve division during the Pindari War, reducing the southern territories of the Peshwa. For his services, he was awarded a Companion of the Bath (C.B.) on October 14, 1818 and then elevated to a Knight Commander of the Bath (K.C.B.) on November 26 1819. He is shown in Figure 2 wearing his K.C.B. neck badge and star as well as his Gold Seringapatam Medal. Lord Canning praised Sir Thomas in the House of Commons with the following statement (5).
He went into the field with not more than five or six hundred men, of whom a very small proportion were Europeans …. Nine forts were surrendered to him or taken by assault on his way; and at the end of a silent and scarcely observed progress he emerged… leaving everything secure and tranquil behind him.
Knight Commander (K.C.B.) Neck Badge
Badge Obverse – Similar to the G.C.B. sash badge, the obverse of the K.C.B. neck badge on the left in Figure 3 is a large white enameled and gold-tipped Maltese cross with British Lions between the arms of the cross. The center of the neck badge contains a thistle, shamrock and rose which symbolizes Scotland, Ireland and England. These in turn radiate from a scepter and are surrounded by three crowns. Surrounding this is a band with the motto “TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO”, which translates as “Three in One”. This motto is surrounded by a green enameled laurel wreath. Underneath the laurel wreath is a blue enameled scroll with the inscription “ICH DIEN”, which translates as “I Serve” (6).
Badge Reverse – The reverse of the K.C.B. neck badge on the right in Figure 3 is identical to the obverse with the exception that the British Lions between the arms of the Maltese Cross are facing towards the obverse as they are 3-dimensional representations.
Neck Badge Size/Alloy – From the onset of the order, the K.C.B. badges were made of 22 Karat gold. The Lord Chamberlain commissioned some of the finest jewelers in England to manufacture all classes of the Order of the Bath. The overall quality of goldsmiths in England at the time was quite high, but since there were multiple manufacturers, there are variations in the execution of the badge fabrication. In 1887, statutes were changed to make all classes of the order out of silver-gilt. This was motivated by cost savings. The particular K.C.B. neck badge example in Figure 5 is smaller than the G.C.B. sash badge, measuring approximately 2.10 inches (53mm) square across the arms of the cross and 0.38 inches (10mm) thick at the center.
Neck Badge Hallmarks – During the 1815 time frame, London goldsmiths hallmarked their creations, including all classes of the Order of the Bath. Hallmarks typically show a code letter indicating the year of manufacture, a lion passant-guardant indicating gold content, the Sovereign’s head assay mark, and sometimes the maker’s mark. Hallmarks disappeared on the K.C.B. neck badge insignia upon the conversion to silver-gilt alloy in 1887.
Hallmarks on the upper suspension ring of a typical early K.C.B. neck badge are shown in Figure 4. They include the Sovereign’s head (George III) for the London Mint, the lion passant-guardant (identifying this badge as 22 Karat) and the London hallmark letter for the year of manufacture, (U for 1815). Early London hallmark letters for years of manufacture are:
1814 – T 1815 – U 1816 – a 1817 – b 1818 – c 1819 – d 1820 – e
1821 – f 1822 – g 1823 – h 1824 – i 1825 – k 1826 – l 1827 – m
Neck Badge Suspension – K.C.B. neck badges were suspended by a solid gold ring passing through a loop attached to the top of the badge as shown in Figure 5. Passing through this solid gold ring is the neck ribbon ring. Early K.C.B. neck badges had a “split neck ring design” as shown on the left in Figure 5. This split neck ring was hinged, allowing it to be opened up to facilitate passing the neck ribbon through as shown below. These early split rings are very scarce on K.C.B. neck badges offered for sale today as the rings were fragile and typically replaced with a heavier “solid neck ring design” as shown on the right of Figure 5. Replacement of the split neck rings was done when the neck badges were returned (as required up to 1857) upon the death of a Knight Commander, refurbished and reissued in later years to new Knights Commanders admitted to the Order.
Neck Badge Ribbon – The early K.C.B. neck badge ribbons were 3 3/4 inches (95mm) wide (see Figure 6) and intended to be worn on the outside of the collar with the badge resting on the chest. An example of an early K.C.B. neck ribbon is shown in Figure 6. The K.C.B. neck badge worn by Lieutenant General Sir R. S. Donkin in Figure 1 is just such an example.
Knight Commander (K.C.B.) Star
Star Obverse – The obverse of the K.C.B. star is formed of (4) silver rays forming a cross pattée with smaller rays in between. Within the center of the cross is wreath of green enameled laurel leaves surrounding a red enameled band containing the motto “TRIA JUNCTA IN UNO” (Three in One). Unlike the G.C.B. star, the K.C.B. star is missing the gold Maltese Cross. Inside the red enameled band are three Imperial Crowns. Underneath the laurel wreath is a blue enameled scroll with the inscription “ICH DIEN”, which translates as “I Serve”.
An unmarked embroidered K.C.B. investment star (circa 1820-1830) is shown on the left side of Figure 7. It is approximately 80mm square and is constructed with silver sequins and wire. On the left of Figure 7 is another embroidered K.C.B. investment star (circa 1820) of similar construction, but 90mm square and stenciled on the reverse “John Hunter, Robe Maker to His Majesty 16 Maddox Street Hanover Square”.
Since both embroidered and metal K.C.B. stars were privately made by embroiderers or jewelers, there are subtle variations in the size and execution of the design depending on the maker. An early silver, gold and enamel K.C.B. star (circa 1815-1820) made by Salter is shown on the left side of Figure 8. This example at 75mm square, has straight edges on the perimeter of the cross pattée, typical of those stars made right after the reorganization of the Order of the Bath in 1815. The K.C.B. star on the right of Figure 8, by the jeweler Hamlet, is 78mm square and is also made in the 1815-1820 time frame.
Another early K.C.B. star (circa 1815-1820) made by Rundell Bridge & Rundell at 73mm x 72mm square, is shown on the left side of Figure 9. Rundell Bridge & Rundell was the predominant maker of G.C.B. & K.C.B. badges and stars for this time period. The K.C.B. star, on the right of Figure 9, is another later example made by Rundell Bridge & Rundell (circa 1820-1834) at 76mm square and features a later style “Castle Edge” on the outer perimeter of the cross pattée. This “Castle Edge” became more popular with private jewelers and soon became a regular feature on K.C.B. stars that is continued to this day.
Star Reverse – The reverse of the K.C.B. stars are very plain and similar in construction to the G.C.B stars, typically with a round circular back plate in the center of the rays formed from silver. K.C.B. stars were typically suspended from a hinged pin soldered to the back of the star. K.C.B. stars privately made in England were not typically hallmarked anywhere on the obverse or reverse. However, it is not unusual to have the maker’s name engraved on the reverse. Examples are also known where the name of the individual has been privately engraved on the reverse. The above K.C.B. stars have the following engraving:
Figure 8 (left to right):
♦ SALTER Goldsmiths & Jeweller to His Highness DUKE of SUSSEX 35 Strand
♦ HAMLET, JEWELLER to their Royal Highnesses the Princesses Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary & Sophia, Princes Street Leicester Square LONDON
Figure 9 (left to right):
♦ Rundell Bridge & Rundell, Jeweller to their Majesties & His Royal Highness the Prince Regent
♦ Rundell Bridge & Rundell, Jewelers to His Majesty and the Royal Family
As mentioned above, I will follow up this blog with Part 3, the last part of this series, covering aspects of the Third Class or Companion (C.B.) of the Bath. Questions and comments are most welcome!
- Bulletin from the London Gazette of January 3rd, 1815, No. I, R. G Clark, Westminster, 1815
- Bulletin from the London Gazette of January 6th, 1815, No. II, R. G. Clark, Westminster, 1815
- Nicolas, Sir Nicholas Harris, History of the Orders of Knighthood of the British Empire, John Hunter, London, MDCCCXLII
- Royal Military Calendar, Volume III, A. J. Valpy, London 1820
- Gleig, Rev. G. R., Life of Sir Thomas Munro, John Murray, London, 1849
- Risk, James C., The History of the Order of the Bath, Spink & Son, London, 1972