This medal was presented by the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society and was posthumously awarded to Captain John Coffey’s family for his efforts at saving life at sea, in 1882. Captain Coffey lost his life in this attempt. The shipwreck occurred between Australia and England.
The included letter was written by the donor, who is the grandson of John Coffey. It is interesting that the medal and note were packaged in a small tin whose original purpose was to present a wedding cake gift to guests. The container is decorated with wedding bells pressed into the lid.
Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society: -
The Shipwrecked Mariners (Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society) is a national charity established in 1839. It is run by a network of volunteers in the UK and Ireland. The organisation assists former mariners, their dependants and their families. John Rye and his servant Charles-Gee Jones, of Bath, UK, encouraged its formation after a severe storm caused the loss of life from the ‘Clovelly’ fishing fleet in November 1838. The Society was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1850.
The Society’s flag is the St George’s Cross, a red cross on a white background and a gold crown in the centre, with the letters S F M S displayed, one in each quadrant.
Nominations are made by members each year of those who have performed outstanding acts of bravery in helping those in peril in the sea.
The inscription on the reverse "PRESENTED FOR HEROIC EXERTIONS IN SAVING LIFE FROM DROWNING / JOB XXIX 13" refers to a verse in the Bible, which in the King James version reads "The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow's eart to sing for joy."
This is the only medal in our collection awarded from the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners' Royal Benevolent Society.
Medal, silver with blue ribbon. The obverse of the medal has images of the British flag, a crown flag with "S.F.", a portrait of a man, a shipwreck, a cannon and anchor, a man with a telescope, and two people attending a body on the shore. The reverse of the medal has text. The medal clasp depicts a fleur de lies between two fish. The medal maker is Stokes. The metal was donated in a tin container and included a letter. The medal was presented posthumously to the family of Captain John Coffey for his efforts at saving life at sea, in 1882.
Inscriptions & markings
On rim "CAPTAIN JOHN COFFEY - 1882"
Obverse "SHIPWRECKED FISHERMEN AND MARINERS ROYAL BENEVOLENT SOCIETY" and "ESTAB AD 1839 INCOd BY ACT OF PARLt 1850"
Reverse "PRESENTED FOR HEROIC EXERTIONS IN SAVING LIFE FROM DROWNING / JOB XXIX 13" and "ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY"
The tin box has "MEDAL" handwritten in black.
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