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Rare naval medal sells for £120,000

A watercolour of Captain Sir William Hoste
14 July 2021
A rare naval gold medal awarded to one of Admiral Lord Nelson’s protégés has sold for £120,000 at auction.

The medal, which had never been sold before, had been estimated to fetch between £60,000 and £80,000 and was bought by an anonymous private collector at auctioneers Morton & Eden in London.

David Kirk, Morton and Eden’s medal specialist said: We are delighted for the family, and we feel that this result does real justice to what is, without doubt, a superb medal.

“Captain Sir William Hoste was an extremely important naval figure, as well as being a protégé and friend of Nelson.”

Capt Hoste joined the Royal Navy at an early age and was soon introduced to Nelson, who invited him to serve as his Captain’s Servant aboard HMS Agamemmon.

In 1805 he was sent by Nelson to deliver diplomatic gifts and messages to the Dey of Algiers, therefore missing the Battle of Trafalgar.

Captain Sir William Hoste was an extremely important naval figure, as well as being a protégé and friend of Nelson.

David Kirk, Morton and Eden’s medal specialist

Hoste’s finest hour came during the opening stages of the Battle of Lissa (now called Vis) off the coast of Croatia. He led his ships in a devastating attack against a larger French and Venetian squadron.

The British suffered 190 dead and wounded, but the French and Venetians lost more than 700 men, along with four frigates.

Hoste went on to captain the Bacchante, which captured and destroyed more ships near Apulia and Ancona. In 1813 he led the attack on Cattaro and went on to capture Ragusa.

Failing health forced his return to England and in 1814 he was made a baronet. His Knight Commander’s neck badge was also included in the auction and sold for £19,200.

In 1822 Hoste commanded the Albion guardship at Portsmouth and three years later he was appointed to the Royal Yacht. He died of tuberculosis in December 1828.

Hoste’s first son, Rear-Admiral Sir William Legge Hoste, would also go on to serve with distinction in the Royal Navy (Sir William’s son’s pair of campaign medals for the Second China War, 1857-60 also sold for £4,560.) 

A number of insignia and artefacts were also sold, bringing the family a total of £171,960.

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