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    Indian Mutiny ‘Siege of Lucknow’ V.C. awarded to Mr. Thomas Henry Kavanagh, Bengal Uncovenanted Civil Service. UPDATE: THIS MADE £930,000 – A WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A V.C.

    The first civilian Victoria Cross of five to be awarded presented to Thomas Henry Kavanagh by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle – one of only two not in a museum – comes up at Noonan’s in Mayfair on September 14 with an estimate of £300,000-400,000. The famous Indian Mutiny ‘Siege of Lucknow’ Victoria Cross was awarded to Thomas Henry Kavanagh, who was born on July 15, 1821 in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

    He was employed as a clerk in the Lucknow Office prior to the Siege. In November 1857, he volunteered to leave the safety of the Residency disguised as a Sepoy (an Indian soldier serving under British or other European orders), accompanied by a Brahmin scout.  The pair jostled past armed rebels through the narrow Lucknow streets and talked their way past sentries in the moonlight, crossed deep rivers, tramped through swamps and narrowly avoided capture after startling a farmer who raised the alarm.  On finally reaching a British cavalry outpost Kavanagh delivered Sir James Outram’s vital despatch to Sir Colin Campbell and ably guided his column to the relief of the Residency garrison.

    Oliver Pepys, Auctioneer and Medal Specialist (Associate Director) Noonans explained: “Kavanagh was decorated with the highest honour for undertaking an epic quest to escape the surrounded Residency at night, crossing enemy lines, making contact with the camp of the Commander-in-Chief, and then using his local knowledge to guide the relieving force through the city to the beleaguered garrison by the safest route.”

    “The first of just five civilians to have been awarded the V.C., he was further rewarded with promotion to the gazetted post of Assistant Commissioner of Oude and was presented with his Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria in a special ceremony at Windsor Castle. A tour of England and Ireland further enhanced his celebrity while the publication in 1860 of his account of the Siege, ‘How I won the Victoria Cross’ and Orlando Norrie’s painting of him donning his Indian disguise – one of the truly iconic images of the Defence of Lucknow – ensured that he became a Victorian legend, indeed few histories of the conflict are without an image of ‘Lucknow Kavanagh’.”

    A first edition copy of his book is included with the lot.

    Thomas Henry Kavanagh

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