Napoleon’s three chamber box lock pistol, 1802

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 Gold-Inlaid 120-Bore Three-Barrelled Flintlock Box-Lock Tap-Action Pocket Pistol Presented In 1802 By Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Thornton To Napoleon Bonaparte

Thomas Thornton (1757-1823), self-styled Prince of Chambord and Marquess de Pont, is famous for being one of the most dedicated and flamboyant sportsman of the 18th and 19th centuries, dividing his time between hunting, racing, shooting, angling and hawking. In the shooting field he was certainly the best equipped - in his words he had 'a greater quantity of sporting apparatus of the most valuable and curious manufacture than any other sporting gentleman in England' - and he favoured air weapons and multi-barrelled guns and rifles, including examples with seven, twelve and fourteen barrels. A Francophile, Thornton visited France with his mistress before the revolution and again in 1802 on a sporting journey afforded during the brief peace created by the Treaty of Amiens following Napoleon's brilliant defeat of the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo, fought on 14 June, 1800.

The gold-inlaid decoration was clearly intended to confirm Thornton's feeling of admiration for the First Consul to whom he was presented at the Tuileries together with the Portuguese ambassador and several English naval and military gentlemen. Their meeting was to provide a further opportunity of explaining the virtues of the men once under his command and all the implied regret caused by the untimely separation from them. 'He (Napoleon) noticed my medallion, and enquired the meaning of it. I told him, the legend was Triumph of Truth and that the medallion had been presented to me by the soldiers of the West York. Militia, when I was Lieutenant Colonel of that regiment, as a testimony of their esteem for myself and family'

Thornton is also famous for his succession of mistresses, the first being Alicia Meynell or Massingham known as the 'Norwich Nymph' and famous in her own right for her horse race against Captain Flint at York racecourse in 1804, and again in 1805 on the Knavesmire when she beat Edward Buckle the crack jockey of his day.




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