Scottish Ramshorn Snuff Mull
Scottish Ramshorn Snuff Mull
Scottish Ramshorn Snuff Mull

Scottish Ramshorn Snuff Mull

c. 1814 Scotland

Offered by Baggott Church Street Ltd

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The domed and hinged lid with inset Scottish hardstone is inscribed ‘To William Martine, Master of The Thames, a gift from the Leith TRAFALFAR SOCIETY 1814. Success to the Edinburgh and Leith Shipping Company’. The horn, with three unhallmarked silver mounts depicting a Scottish Royal Crown, a shield engraved with the ship and named ‘Thames’, and a Scottish thistle. The Mull now on an oak display stand. Also included with this piece is a slim volume entitled ‘Reminiscences of Port & Town of Leith’ by John Martine, published in 1888.
Scottish, circa 1814
H.6.5” (16cm) W.8.” (21cm) D. 4” (10cm)
Stock No. 8688
William Martin(e) was born in Edinburgh St Cuthbert’s in 1792 and was apparently made master of the armed Smack ‘The Thames’ in 1814 at the age of 22, no doubt an event that was celebrated with the presentation of this Mull. ‘The Thames’ was one of 8 smacks owned by the Edinburgh and Leith Shipping Company, which was formed in 1802 by the merchants of Leith, each armed in order to defend themselves from attacks by French Privateers. By 1819, the company was apparently renamed as the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leith Shipping Company. William Martin is recorded in the census of 1841 as living at 17 Union Street, Edinburgh with his trade listed as ‘Master’. At that time there was considerable fluidity in the manner in which names were spelt, but there is little doubt that this William Martin and that mentioned as Master of the Thames in contemporary publications is the William Martine celebrated on this Mull.

Following the sinking of ‘The Thames’ in January 1815, William Martin became master of ‘The Venus’, one of the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leith Shipping Company’s London Smacks and was mentioned as such in newspaper and almanack records in both 1819 and 1824-5. ‘The Venus’ was advertised in the Glasgow Herald in 1819 ‘…to be unrivalled in comfort and convenience by any vessel which has yet been fitted up for the conveyance of passengers’. Smacks were large and beautiful Cutters, carrying a huge amount of sail fore and aft that would help them achieve considerable speeds. In 1820, Mr Martin was immortalised in a song written by a passenger to celebrate ‘The Venus’ following a journey he had taken. The final verse says:

‘My worthy mess-mates, all, farewell!
May never woe your hearts assail,
Nor pains your bodies rack;
And should we meet again at sea,
May Martin* still our Captain be
On board the Venus Smack’
* Mr William Martin, Captain of the Venus, than whom the Company have not a more civil, sober, nor deserving officer in their employ.’

The Leith Trafalgar Society may well be a reference to Freemasonry, following the establishment of a new Lodge by Masonic Brethren shortly after the Battle of Trafalgar. It was opened on 8th February 1808 in a house in Rotten Row, Leith. Houses were so large and impressive in this particular area of Edinburgh that the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots – Mary of Lorraine – even chose to have a royal house built there in the 16th century. Although the lodge fell dormant between 1837 and 1858, it reopened in February 1859 in the New Ship Hotel, Leith, moving periodically until its present address in Trafalgar Hall, St Anthony Place.
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Baggott Church Street Ltd

Baggott Church Street Ltd
Church Street
GL54 1BB

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