The impressive and important group of medals and decorations to Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Fellowes, Kt., C.B., Royal Navy, for his services during the Peninsula War and, more particularly, at the Battle of Navarino 1827
Naval General Service 1793-1840, 2 clasps, 23 Nov. Boat Service 1810, Navarino (Thos. Fellowes, Capt., R.N.); France, Legion of Honour, Henry IV (1816-1833), Commander’s neck badge in gold and enamels, 87 mm including crown; Greece, Order of the Redeemer, Otto I (1829-1866), Commander’s neck badge in gold and enamels, 61 mm including crown; Russia, Order of St. Anne, 2nd class neck badge in gold and enamels, set with rose and cushion-cut diamonds, 37 mm, with diamond set suspension loop, this separately mounted with later brooch fitting; Spain, Order of Charles III, Knight Commander’s set of insignia, comprising breast badge in gold and enamels, with gold ribbon buckle, the reverse centre cracked and repaired, and breast star in silver and enamels, with gold central wreath and royal cypher, all insignia of very good quality and generally extremely fine (9)
Thomas Fellowes was born in 1778, at Minorca, the fifth and youngest son of Dr. William Fellowes, Physician Extraordinary to George IV, when Prince Regent; he was brother to Sir Jason Fellowes, Kt., who served as Inspector of Hospitals to the British army during the Peninsular War; and to William Fellowes, formerly Commander, R.N., who officiated at the Coronation of George IV. On this latter occasion, the recipient’s eldest sister led the Royal procession to Westminster Abbey.
Thomas Fellowes served for a short period as a Midshipman in the Honourable East India Company’s service and entered the Royal Navy in 1797, as a Master’s Mate aboard H.M.S. Royal George . Following a short period of service on the Irish Station, he was appointed to the Crescent and whilst aboard her in the West Indies, during November 1799, assisted at the capture of the Corvette, El Galgo.
Following promotion to Lieutenant on 29 June, 1807, he next saw action aboard the sloop Melville, during the capture of the Danish West India Islands. In March 1808, he was appointed Captain of the Swinger and soon after contributed to the capture of the island of Deseada. During this action he landed at the head of 40 men and by his skilful leadership successfully compelled an enemy force of regular troops and Militia, seventy in number, to surrender as prisoners of war. Subsequent to this action, whilst in command of two ships’ boats, he further distinguished himself when, following fourteen hours exposure to the enemy batteries in the Bay of Mahout, Guadeloupe, he captured and destroyed the Letter-of-Marque, L’Alert.
On assuming command of the brig Unique, in November 1808, the recipient participated at the capture of the Saintes; and on 21 May, 1809, when present at the blockade of Basseterre, he landed with 24 men, spiked the guns of the battery, seized the enemy’s colours in the presence of five times the number of his own regular troops and then retired with the loss of one Midshipman killed and seven men severely wounded. On this occasion, the Unique’s boat was completely riddled and eventually sank. Fellowes himself, had a musket-ball pass through his hat, another strike the pike in his hand and his jacket shot through in two places; strange as it may seem, he was the only member of his party to escape unhurt. On 31 May, the Unique was expended as a fireship and on 16 September 1809, the recipient received his promotion to Commander, an elevation that reflected his exemplary services aboard the Swinger and Unique.
On 2 August, 1810, the recipient was promoted to the Chief Command of the Cadiz Flotilla, and although initially this position was a shared appointment, he eventually gained full command. During this latter period, he made frequent contact with the enemy and on 22 November, 1810, for the purpose of creating a diversion in favour of an attack in the River Maria, he drew upon himself for a period of six and a half hours, the attention and fire of Fort Catalina. On 6 March, 1811, he further distinguished himself by his outstanding gallantry in storming a four gun battery at the entrance of Port Santa Maria, although at all times under a heavy fire from neighbouring emplacements.
On resignation from his Cadiz appointment in June 1811, Fellowes, newly promoted to Captain, assumed command of the Fawn. It was aboard this ship that he recaptured the Perthshire; destroyed the American Privateer, the Rosamond, after a long and arduous pursuit; and successfully escorted a convoy of merchantmen from Cork to Barbados. For this latter service he received a handsome letter of thanks from the masters of the convoy, for his ‘zeal and ability in driving away the enemies of peace and commerce’; a letter from the Captain-General of Caraccas; and the compliments of the Governor of Curaçoa, Major General Hodgson, for his ‘zealous and active exertions’.
On 21 February, 1827, the recipient took command of the Dartmouth and almost immediately sailed for the Mediterranean, with the duplicate of the Treaty between Great Britain, France and Russia, for the protection of Greece. At the Battle of Navarino in October 1827, the recipient was entrusted with the care of six fireships and four other vessels. The first engagement fought at the battle took place between the Dartmouth’s boat, under Lieutenant George Fitzroy, and a Turkish fireship, this being the immediate cause for hostilities to commence. During the remainder of the battle, the recipient displayed conspicuous gallantry and, amongst several achievements, saved the French Admiral’s flagship, La Sirene, from destruction. As a direct result of these services, he was knighted on 13 February, 1828.
Sir Thomas Fellowes was appointed a C.B. on 4 June, 1815; a Knight of the Order of Charles III on 22 February, 1822, in recognition of ‘the distinguished intrepidity displayed by him, while in command of the English Gun-boats in numerous actions with the enemy’s Flotilla and Batteries’; and for his conduct at Navarino, he received the Legion d’Honneur, the 2nd Class of St. Anne and the Redeemer of Greece. He was Superintendent of the hospital and victualling yard at Plymouth, from 1843 until 1846 and promoted Rear Admiral on 26 July, 1847; he died on 12 April, 1853.