Stock Ref: AST 1735

An important and very rare presentation sword to a Regimental Sergeant Major in the 31st Foot complete with extensive documentation.

A very fine example of a variant to the 1803 pattern with presentational inscription to John Crossland 31st Foot who rose from being a Drummer Boy to Sergeant Major, and was then commissioned as Lieutenant (Adjutant) in the York Volunteer Infantry (City of York Militia).

79cm (31”) curved single fullered blade with flat back and blade widening towards the hatchet point. The blade is doubled edged for the last 9”. The back of the blade is stamped by the guard J J Runkel Solingen. The blade is engraved on one side with the crowned GR for George III and various emblematic symbols including a panoply of arms, a stylised wreath and a face. On the other there is the royal coat of arms, a crescent moon, a stylised wreath and a rayed sun. Both sides of the blade are inscribed ‘From the corp of sergeants of the 31st Regt to John Crofsland their late Sergeant Major’.

Brass stirrup hilt, with sword knot slit near pommel. Acanthus decorated langets, and rearward quillon with downturned finial. Brass back piece ending in a lions head. Black fish kin grip with brass/copper wires.

Maker: JJ Runkel Solingen (John Justus Runkel)

Dated: 1803

Black leather scabbard with brass mountings and two loose rings. The leather has been tooled with an impressed dot design. Although of the period the scabbard is associated.

The sword is in very good condition for its age. The blade has an overall grey patina and may once have been blue and gilt. There is minimal rust damage and no knicks. There are trace shadows of the original gilting around the engravings. The inscription although faded is still clearly legible on both sides. The hilt is in very good condition and firm on the tang. The fish skin grip and the wire bindings are as new. The scabbard is generally in a good condition for its age, it has a small crease split on one side near the middle which has been taped. The leather has aged but remains intact and supple, the stitching is good. There are some dents to the brass mountings and the belt stud on the upper locket is missing.

John Crossland (1759 - 1813)

John Crossland (Crofsland) was born in about 1759. He appears to have enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the 31st Foot at Tynemouth Barracks, Northumberland on or before January 1774 at the age of 15 as a Drummer Boy. In August 1775 he is shown as stationed at Morpeth, Northumberland. By 1782 he was in Quebec – still listed on the Regiment’s muster rolls as a Drummer, a rank he maintained through to the Regiments return to England in 1789 when he is recorded as being at the Hilsea Barracks, Portsmouth as a Drummer – Recruiting.

In October 1792 he was still a Drummer – Recruiting and may have been in Ireland. In July 1795 the regiment was posted to the West Indies where it suffered significant losses through ‘Fever’. John Crossland survived and on the 1st September 1795, at the age of 36, he was promoted to Sergeant.

Between 1796-1797 he was a Recruiting Sergeant (a trusted position) and we know he was in York in 1798, as on the 13 July 1798 he married Ann Jefferson at St Michael le Belfrey church, York. Ann was the daughter of a local Tailor who was a Freeman of the City of York and therefore clearly had some standing. (Interestingly the record of the marriage shows John’s surname spelt as Crofsland, as on the sword), rather than the more modern Crossland. He was probably in and around the York area in 1799 when his first son John Michael was born and christened at St Michael le Belfey in September 1799.

In 1802 he was based in Portsmouth, Hampshire where his second son William was born, then the Channel Islands

The last entry in the Regiments muster rolls is in August 1804 - discharged to promotion in City of York Militia. He is listed as Sergeant Major

There was an overlap where he was on the rolls of both the 31st Foot and the York Volunteer Infantry (YVI).  His Commission as Lieutenant Adjutant in the YVI is listed in the London Gazette 15 December 1803 and he appears on the Muster Rolls of the latter from 1803 and does not exit the Muster Rolls of the 31st Foot until August 1804. He transferred to the Militia in a paid position at the level of Lieutenant.

He died in 1813, aged 53.  His fellow officers had an impressive plaque made and placed on the wall of St Michael le Belfry, York in his memory.


  • John Crossland entries in Muster Rolls
  • 31st Regiment of Foot
  • Memorial to John Crossland – photo.
  • London Gazette entry 15 December 1803
  • Birth and Marriage entries relating to John Crossland and Ann Jefferson x 4
  • Birth and Death entries relating to Crossland’s children x 7
  • York City Militia – Officers Belt Plate – photo.

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