Friday, May 3, 2013

English Doglock Musket from the Dunster Castle Armory

This is an example of an English doglock musket from the Dunster Castle Armory. The castle was owned by the Luttrell family dating back to 1376 when they purchased the castle for 5,000 marks. In 1643 after the start of the English Civil War under the leadership of Thomas Littrell he surrendered the castle to overwhelming Royalist forces under the command of the Marquess of Hertford who established a garrison there. In 1645 Colonel Francis Wyndham, the appointed Governor surrendered the castle to the Roundhead Army who had laid siege on Dunster 6 months earlier. A Parliamentarian garrison remained there until 1651 when the castle was returned to the Littrell family. In 1665 the duke of Monmouth led a protestant revolt against James II and the Castles new owner Colonel Francis Littrell formed a militia to repel the invasion, however his men were untrained and lacking the will to fight threw down their weapons and fled. By 1688 his loyalty to the despotic King James declined and like the majority of English gentry he rallied to the forces of William of Orange. Littrell raised a regiment which would later be known as The Green Howards'. It's believed that probably at this time muskets from the armory were branded with the initials FL (Francis Littrell) a common practice of armories to confirm ownership and ensure their return. A majority of the armory consisted of 17th Century muskets some possibly acquired during the Civil War and others later added for Littrell's militia, dating back to the English Civil War of 1642 to 1651. Over the years there has been speculation over the number of muskets that were in the armory and figures range from 30 to possibly 60. By the early 1970s most of the armory had been sold off with pieces scattered worldwide leaving only a handful remaining in the castle. This musket dates to the early 1660s. It has a 48 inch barrel with a muzzle that measures 3/4 inches across, with a bead front and fixed notch rear sights. The mountings are iron with a horizontal lock mechanism and bridle between the frizzen and spring. At the rear of the lock is mounted a rotating safety hook which latches into a "V" notch on the upper rear of the hammer. The top of the barrel at the breech end is marked backwards "G", "GL" and "FL". The left breech end is marked "MX" over a very early London proofmark, which first saw use in 1638. Mounted with a full straight grip stock with a deep "FL" stamp on each side of the buttstock. Comes with a wooden ramrod with a brass tip. Comes with a copy of an article by Brian C. Godwin entitled "The Armory at Dunster Castle" which covers the history of the castle and includes 1705 and 1741 taken inventories of the armory.


Fine considering its age of about 350 years old. The metal surfaces have a mottled brown patina with some minor pitting on the barrel. The stock is good. A 2 inch by 6 1/2 inch wedge at the toe of the buttstock shows an old repair and above that is a deep 4 3/4 inch repaired crack. The part of the buttplate where the break was is absent. There is some speculation as to whether or not the stocks were made in two pieces as some examples of these muskets reportedly were. Overall the stock shows numerous little holes, probably caused by insects and the stock has s very old coat of dark varnish on it. The action functions well. All in all for being about 350 years old this musket is in remarkably fine condition. Many collections lack an English Military pattern doglock musket as they were used extensively in the America's by the British in their Colonies prior to the American revolution. This is a significant historical firearm.

Copy and photos supplied by Rock Island Auction.

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