Naval Gold Medal

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Naval Gold Medal
Naval Gold Medal. Cigarette Card.png
Obverse, with suspension of the small medal
Awarded by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
TypeCampaign medal
EligibilityAdmirals and captains, Royal Navy
Awarded forCommand in battle
Campaign(s)French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793–1814
Anglo-American War of 1812
Total awarded22 large and 117 small medals
Naval General Service Medal 1847 BAR.svg
Lord Nelson wearing large gold medals for St. Vincent and the Nile. With a later posthumous award for Trafalgar, he was the sole recipient of three large gold medals.
Admiral Sir Charles Knowles wearing a small gold medal for St. Vincent, where he commanded HMS Goliath.

The Naval Gold Medal was awarded between 1793 and 1815 to senior officers of the Royal Navy for specified actions.

Two different sizes were struck. 22 large medals were awarded to flag officers (admirals), commodores and captains of the fleet. 117 smaller medals were awarded to captains.[1] As a separate medal was awarded for each action, it was possible for a recipient to receive and wear more than one.[2]

Awards of the gold medal were discontinued after 1815, as would-be recipients became eligible for the Order of the Bath on its enlargement to three classes.[3]


  • Size: The large medal has a diameter of 2 inches (51 mm), and the small medal 1.3 inches (33 mm).[3] Medals were mounted in a gold frame, glazed on both sides.[4]
  • Obverse: Britannia holding a spear and standing on the prow of an ancient galley, being crowned with a laurel wreath by a figure of Victory. Behind is an oval shield charged with the Union Flag.[4]
  • Reverse: Engraved with the rank and name of the recipient, and the event and date for which the medal was awarded. The large medal has a surround of a wreath of oak and laurel.[4]
  • Ribbon: White with dark blue edges, 1.75 inches (44 mm) wide for the large medal and 1.5 inches (38 mm) for the small.[4] In 1847, this ribbon was used for the Naval General Service Medal.[5]
  • Suspension: Large medals had a ring suspension for wear around the neck. Small medals were worn on the left chest by way of a straight bar suspender, normally from a buttonhole.[4] Six of the large medals awarded for the Glorious First of June were presented suspended from a gold chain.[1]


Following the Battle of the Glorious First of June 1794, the Naval Gold Medal was instituted to reward those admirals and captains who had been conspicuous for courage in that action, as well as those who might distinguish themselves on future occasions.[6]

In spite of representations made by Lord Nelson, no medal was authorised for the Battle of Copenhagen, due to concerns that it may offend the Danes.[1]

Recipients surviving until 1847 were entitled to apply for the Naval General Service Medal with the appropriate clasps.[3]

Gold Medals were issued by the Admiralty for the following actions.[4] Only selected captains received a medal for the Glorious First of June,[7] otherwise all captains or acting captains were recipients.

Action Date Large
French Revolutionary Wars 1793–1802
Battle of the Glorious First of June 1 June 1794 8 17
Battle of Cape St Vincent 14 February 1797 6 15
Battle of Camperdown 11 October 1797 2 15
Battle of the Nile 1 August 1798 1 14
Recapture of HMS Hermione by HMS Surprise 25 October 1799 0 1
Napoleonic Wars 1803–1815
Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805 3 27
Battle of Cape Ortegal 4 November 1805 0 4
Battle of San Domingo 6 February 1806 2 8
Capture of the island of Curaçao by HMS Arethusa 1 January 1807 0 4
Capture of Turkish frigate Badere Zaffere by HMS Seahorse 5-6 July 1808 0 1
Capture of French frigate Thétis by HMS Amethyst 10 November 1808 0 1
Capture of French frigate Furieuse by HMS Bonne Citoyenne 6 July 1809 0 1[8]
Capture of Banda Neira 9 August 1810 0 1[9]
Battle of Lissa 13 March 1811 0 4[9]
Capture of the French ship of the line Rivoli by HMS Victorious 22 February 1812 0 1
Capture of the French frigate Étoile by HMS Hebrus 27 March 1814 0 1
War of 1812 1812–1815
Capture of USS Chesapeake by HMS Shannon 1 June 1813 0 1
Capture of USS President by HMS Endymion 15 January 1815 0 1
Total 22 117

Some notable recipients[edit]

Only three Naval officers earned three gold medals:[10]

Other selected awards are listed below:

Large Gold Medal

Small Gold Medal


  1. ^ a b c Ribbons and Medals, page 54
  2. ^ Medals Yearbook, page 122
  3. ^ a b c Observer Book of British Awards, pages 72-73
  4. ^ a b c d e f Battles and Medals, pages 32-33
  5. ^ Ribbons and Medals, page 56
  6. ^ "Berryhill and Sturgeon website".
  7. ^ Only awarded to captains specifically mentioned in Lord Howe’s report. See article on Lord Collingwood, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol 12, page 673
  8. ^ Battles and Medals, page 51
  9. ^ a b Battles and Medals, page 53
  10. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol 12, page 673