Gifted to a Leeds officer who rose through the ranks more than 200 years ago, this rare cavalry sword tells a stirring story of loyalty among comrades in arms.
On display in Leeds City Museum’s Leeds Story Gallery, the sword once belonged to Captain William Jackson, and was a gift from soldiers he commanded in 1800 for his “enduring attention to them in his duty”.
Captain Jackson was a tradesman who became popular officer in the Leeds Volunteer Infantry, a unit unit formed in 1794 during the height of the War of the First Coalition.
Before signing up, Captain Jackson is believed to have lived on Briggate, and trade directories show he may later have worked as a tobacconist.
The inscription running along the sword’s blade reads: “This sword was presented by the non-commissioned officers, drummers and privates of the South Battalion of the Leeds Volunteer Infantry to Capt Jackson as a mark of gratitude and respect for his soldier like enduring attention to them in his duty as their adjutant”.
The Leeds Volunteers were never called into action, but carried out regular military exercises and helped put out fires in the area. They disbanded in 1808 and were replaced by the Leeds Local Militia, a unit Captain Jackson continued to be involved with.
His death was later reported in the Leeds Mercury on September 21, 1822.
Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “Captain Jackson must have been an exceedingly popular commanding officer and his rise through the ranks is a stirring tale, so it’s a fitting tribute that his sword is now on display in his home city.
“Exhibits like this help us to tell some of the stories behind the many unique characters who have contributed to our city’s rich history over the centuries and to ensure their legacy lives on.”
Captain Jackson’s sword was purchased with the help of the Friends of Leeds City Museum.
For more information about Leeds CIty Museusm, visit: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Leeds-City-Museum.aspx