The crests are those of Byng, for John, 1st Earl of Strafford G.C.B. (1772-1860).
This lot was supplied to the ill-fated Admiral John Byng (1704-1757). In 1756, Admiral Byng sailed to relieve the British garrison on Minorca, then under siege by the French. On May 20, Admiral Byng engaged the French squadron. The results were inconclusive, neither side losing a ship, but Byng withdrew to Gibraltar without pursuing the French or reinforcing the British garrison, which fell a month later.
When Byng returned to England in July, public opinion was outraged by the loss of Minorca. Byng was arrested and brought before a court-martial. He received unexpected support from an old friend, the celebrated French writer Voltaire, who convinced the commander of the French troops on Minorca to write an open letter praising Byng's performance. Nevertheless, Byng was found guilty and executed on March 14, 1757 by a firing squad on the deck of the H.M.S. Monarch at Portsmouth. Voltaire immortalized this episode in his novel Candide, famously observing that it is good to kill an admiral from time to time "pour encourager les autres."
George Wickes's Gentleman's Ledger entry for John Byng's account on 27 May 1748, describes these dishes: 'To ... 4 Oval Sallett [salad] dishes 163 [oz] 17 [dwt] 9 [gr] [£73 14[s]8[d]'.
Caption: The execution of Admiral John Byng, 14th March 1757, attributed to John Cleveley, the Elder (c. 1712-1777), Christie's Images