Bronze Jubilee Medal awarded to Private Joseph Emerton of No 3 (Buckingham) Company, 1st Bucks Rifle Volunteers, 20 September 1887

Engraved on the edge: No. 3 COMPANY 1st BUCKS. R.V. CORPS. PRESENTED BY LIEUT. T.F. FREMANTLE. WON BY Pte. J. EMERTON. SEPT. 20. 1887.

An 18 year old groom and domestic servant from Mitre Street, Buckingham, Emberton was awarded the medal for the best third class and recruit shooting at the Buckingham Company’s annual shooting competition on 20 September. The medal was presented at the annual dinner in Buckingham Town Hall on 24 September. Although the medal states it was presented to Emerton by Lieutenant Thomas Fremantle, Fremantle decided that it should actually be presented by the battalion’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Owen Wethered so it ‘would give the medal an additional value in the eye of its possessor’. Later the battalion’s commanding officer and succeeding to the peerage as 3rd Lord Cottesloe in 1918, Fremantle was then second in command of the Buckingham company. Fremantle had obtained the medals as suitable prizes for that year’s competition.

Emerton had scored 17 points at 200 yards and 18 points at 400 yards in the competition. The overall highest score in the first and second class went to Lance Corporal Nobes, who won a silver jubilee medal. Emerton’s medal was valued at 15s.0d and he also won a monetary prize of 17s.6d. Young Emerton was clearly something of an all-round sportsman, winning both the 200 yards’ flat race and the 100 yards’ hurdles at the Temperance Society’s Jubilee Temperance Fête earlier in the month as well as playing for the ‘Abstainers’ in the afternoon cricket match against the Non-Abstainers at the same fête.

Issued by the Royal Mint with the Queen’s portrait by Sir Joseph Boehm and the overall design by Sir Frederic (later Lord) Leighton, the large medal is 87mm in diameter. Queen Victoria, whose Golden Jubilee had been celebrated on 20 June 1887, is shown on the obverse. According to the Buckingham Advertiser the reverse showed ‘a figure representing the British Empire enthroned, with the sea in the background, resting one hand on the sword of justice, and holding in the other the symbol of victorious rule. A lion is seen on each side of the throne. At the feet of the seated figure lies Mercury, the god of commerce, the mainstay of our imperial strength, holding up in one hand a cup heaped with gold. Opposite him sits the Genius of Electricity and Steam. Below again, five shields banded together bear the names of the five parts of the globe – Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australasia – over which the Empire extends. On each side of the figure of Empire stand the personified elements of its greatness – on the right (of the spectator) Industry and Agriculture; on the left Science, Letters, and Art. Above, the occasion of the celebration commemorated is expressed by two winged figures representing the year 1887 (the advancing figure), and the year 1837 (with inverted head), holding each a wreath. Where these wreaths interlock the letters V.R. I appear, and over all the words “In Commemoration”.’

Subsequently, Emerton was in South Africa when war broke out with the Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State in October 1899. He enlisted as a private in the locally raised Imperial Light Horse and was granted a commission as a lieutenant in 1901.


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