A Fantastic American Revolutionary War Period Cased Pair of English Silver Mounted Box-Lock Flintlock Cannon Barrel Pistols by GRIFFIN, LONDON

$ 18,500.00

A Fantastic American Revolutionary War Period Cased Pair of English Silver Mounted Box-Lock Flintlock Cannon Barrel Pistols by GRIFFIN, LONDON, c. 18th century.

The pistols date prior to 1765 based on the swan neck style/form of the cocks and have 5", .58 cal. round steel multi-stage smooth bore "turn-off" barrels with cannon muzzles and numbered "1 & 2" to each frame chamber.  The box-lock frames have decorative engraving on both sides surrounding "GRIFFIN" on the left and the makers address "BOND STREET, LONDON" on the right.  All steel surfaces exhibit areas of salt & pepper rust pitting.  The bottom of each frame is stamped with (2) oval "PROOF" and "VIEW" marks with an unidentified mark in-between.  Each pistol has decoratively engraved steel barrel tangs.  Classic Georgian period sterling silver repoussé hallmarked grotesque face butt caps, and wrist escutcheons depicting a scallop shell over an unidentified engraved family crest of a "unicorn bust over a crown" over a monster's face.  Both walnut grip stocks have flat sides with rounded edges and are solid with light scratches and dings from years of handling.  Both pistols are in their original flintlock configuration and are in good mechanical working order.  A beautiful and rare large pair of flintlock pistols in very good overall condition.

Each pistol measure: 12" overall length.

PROVENANCE: Unfortunately there is no proven family history attached to these guns.  We can only be certain about the authenticity of the pistols.  We have no way of knowing if the guns are original to the box or how long they have been together.

NOTE: The pistols date prior to the 1765 based on the swan neck style/form of the cocks.  After 1765 the cocks were made with the double-throat style/form.  The pistols were likely cased c. 1770-1780's.

THE OWNER'S BOOK PLATE:  Montague Lord Beaulieu.  We have encountered many cased guns that have the previous owner's book plates depicting their family crest in place of or on top of the gun maker's trade label.  Over the years, many variations of the name Montagu were recorded, including Montague, Montagu, Montegue, Montacute and others.

The research has been challenging and confusing.  

Possible connections

  • Edward Wortley Montagu (1713-1776), English author and traveler
  • Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Montagu KB (b. 1777), British Army officer, Colonel of the 61st Regiment of Foot (1755-1760), Colonel of the 2nd (Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot (1760-1777)

Regarding BEAULIEU:  The name Beaulieu comes etymologically from French beau lieu, which means "beautiful place". It is derived from Beaulieu Abbey which was populated by 30 monks sent from the abbey of Cîteaux in France, the mother house of the Cistercian order. The medieval Latin name of the monastery was Bellus Locus Regis ("The beautiful place of the king"') or monasterium Belli loci Regis.  Beaulieu is a small village located on the southeastern edge of the New Forest national park in Hampshire, England, and home to both Palace House and the British National Motor Museum.  The first title to be created in the name of Beaulieu was for Edward Hussey. He was the husband of Lady Isabella Montagu, widow of William Montagu, 2nd Duke of Manchester, and daughter of John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu, and adopted the surname of Hussey-Montagu in 1749. He was created Baron Beaulieu in 1762 and Earl of Beaulieu in 1784. Both titles were in the Peerage of Great Britain, and became extinct on his death in 1802.

The representation of the Montagu family (along with that of the Douglases, Dukes of Queensberry) later passed to the Scott family, headed by the Duke of Buccleuch, through the marriage of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, to Lady Elizabeth Montagu, daughter of George Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu (of the 1766 creation). The Scotts then adopted the surname of Montagu Douglas Scott. As mentioned above, Lord Henry Montagu Douglas Scott, second son of the fifth Duke of Buccleuch, was created Baron Montagu of Beaulieu in 1885 and thereafter changed his surname to Douglas-Scott-Montagu.

Palace House (not to be confused with the Palace of Beaulieu in Essex), which overlooks the village from across Beaulieu River, began in 1204 as the gatehouse to Beaulieu Abbey, and has been the ancestral home of a branch of the Montagu family since 1538, when was seized from the monks by the Crown in Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries and then sold on.

The house was extended in the 16th century, and again in the 19th century, and is today a fine example of a Gothic country house.

Although still home to the current Lord and Lady Montagu, parts of the house and gardens are open daily to the public. It is a member of the Treasure Houses of England consortium.


THE STERLING SILVER HALLMARKS: "J A" (Jeremiah Ashley), The corner of Green Street, Leicester Fields.  The "RAMPANT LION" (London Quality Mark).  

Accessories include: a wonderful early red leather covered 3-way powder flask, bullet mold, tow, lead balls, extra flints, turn screw, ram rod/cleaning rod, wad punch and patches. 

BOX:  High Quality Period English box, c. 1770-1780 made with brass lifting handle on the top of the lid and brass swing hooks on the front.  Original lock but the key is missing.  The box Measures: 17.25" X 8.75" X 3" with correct English green baize lining.  

ABOUT THE MAKER:  Benjamin Griffin or his son Joseph Griffin.  This maker worked at "BOND STREET, LONDON" from 1735-1770. 

Ref. p. 49, BRITISH GUNMAKERS, Their Trade Cards, Cases and Equipment, 1760-1860.  By, W. Keith Neal & D.H.L. Back, c. 1980.

Ref. p. 104, GUNMAKERS OF LONDON 1350-1850.  By, Howard L. Blackmore, c. 1986.