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NGS Java 14 Year Old Boy Midshipman

Naval General Service, bar Java, Midshipman William Gilbert Connell, HMS Modeste, son of Maj Gen John Connell, Portuguese Army, Served aged only 14 at Java in 1811.

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SKU: J7859 Category:
Origin: United Kingdom
Nearly Extremely Fine


Naval General Service Medal, bar Java, Midshipman William Gilbert Connell, HMS Modeste, son of Major General John Shadwell Connell, Portuguese Army, Served aged only 14 at Java.


Officially impressed: “G. W. Connell, Midshipman.”


Provenance, ex Spink, December 1995 and April 1999, DNW Sept 2002. Remained un-researched all these years.


Roll confirms him as “W. G. Connell” but impressed “G. W.”


Mr William Gilbert Connell was born on 16th December 1796 as a British Subject born overseas in Portugal.


On 17th February 1797 he was baptised in the British Chaplaincy in Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal.


He was born the son of the Major General John Shadwell Connell, Knight of the Order of the Tower and Sword, Councillor of War, ex 75th Regiment, and served under the Queen of Portugal.

His father had entered the British-Portuguese Army as a Captain in 1763, with leave being a Lieutenant in the British Army, he was at the time of his son’s Birth the Governor of Lagos and Faro, until 1818 he was Governor of the Kingdom of Algarva in Portugal.

He died during 1821 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.





As soon as young William turned 12 years old, he joined the Royal Navy. This was the earliest age that a Boy could officially joined the Navy as an Officer, the same age that Horatio Nelson had been when he entered.

William joined as a Volunteer 1st Class, on board HMS Modeste, under the esteemed Sir George Elliott, on 1st January 1809.

Sir George was described by none other than the late Admiral Nelson as one of the best officers in the Navy, himself only 25 years old in 1809 but in Command of a ship since he was 20.


12 year old William was embroiled straight into a life of adventure. Later that year on 15th July 1809, the Modeste was sailing in the Sunda Straits, in the Java Sea by Indonesia, when she sent her boats along with HMS Barracouta to cut out the 8-Gun ship “Tujneelar”.


Soon afterwards young Connell was appointed as a Midshipman.


Continuing on service around the region of Indonesia, she took part in the Invasion of Java during 1811.

William was now 2 years into his Navy Service, a teenager of 14 years old.


The Modeste was in action during the landing of the invasion force which were victorious. Notably her Commanding Officer Capt George Elliott, had himself superintended the landing of the troops onto the shore, for which he was commended.

The London Gazette notes that they had sent ashore Captain Elliott and Colonel Agnew, to deliver a message demanding surrender with the British terms, which was refused.




He followed Elliott into his next ship during 1812, the Command of HMS Hussar. The ship’s book showing he transferred over on 17th November 1812, this was the same day that Sir George took command, taking with him some of his former crew to man her.


During which time he led his crew in the storming of the defence of Sambas, a piratical state on the western coast of Borneo.


In 1814 Connell transferred to HMS Thisbe, which was on the way back home to England, being discharged on 6th September 1814 from the Service of the Navy by his own request.


He had finished his Navy Career all before his 18th Birthday, being about 17 years old and 8 months, ready for retirement.

Having spent the last 5 or so years on service at sea, he returned to London to be discharged.




He married to Christiana Newburgh Connell, daughter of Major Frederick Supple.

For many years it seems to the Connell and Supple family were good friends and a number of their children married each other, the Supple’s were well known for having mostly served in the 17th Lancers.


They had a son christened in Bristol during October 1824, Frederick Supple Connell.


A rather terrible affair came about for his wife during 1835 in Dublin.

On 14th April 1835, her Brother, Frederick Supple, had somehow got her falsely imprisoned in the Glasnevin, Dublin, Lunatic Asylum.

She spent 3 years there, before sneaking out a letter to a solicitor, saying that she had been falsely imprisoned and that she was kept there against her will, with nothing wrong, a legal case ensued.


Meanwhile however, William Gilbert Connell, was nowhere to be found whilst his wife was in the Asylum, a “William Gilbert Connell” appears on the opposite side of the globe, in of all places, Launceston in Tasmania, Australia.

This man was noted as having been the Secretary to the Launceston Mission and Beneveloent Society.

We are currently looking into the “William Gilbert Connell” who popped up in Launceston, Tasmania Australia during the 1850s.


He is next found on the 1861 Census, at 11 Park Place Terrace in Paddington, Kensington, London.


64 years old and an “Annuitant”, a now unmarried Lodger.

He later died in Kensington during 1873 about 76 years old.


It does not look like he re-married, and by the time of his death on 21st February 1873 at 11 St Martys Square, his estate only amounted to under £200, the will being executed by Charles Howard, Barrister at law of Bayswater.

Charles Howard, Barrister, was a London Lawyer born in Australia during 1822.