This sword is of a very similar unadorned form to the Biennais silver-gilt mounted sabre carried by Wellington at Waterloo that is retained by the family and usually displayed in Apsley House, London.
Sir Henry Hardinge (178-1856) was an illustrious soldier who repeatedly distinguished himself in the Peninsular Wars. He fought at Roliça and Vimeiro in 1808, and was by the side of Sir John Moore at Corunna in 1809 when the latter was killed. Hardinge was appointed deputy-quartermaster-general in the Portuguese Army and was present at many of the key battles fought on the Iberian Peninsular. Wellington took Hardinge, by then a Lt. Colonel, onto his personal staff for the Flanders Campaign and tasked him to track Napoléon’s progress at the outset of the ‘Hundred Days’. He was appointed as Wellington’s liaison officer on Field Marshal Bl?cher’s staff, and it was whilst with the Prussians that his left hand was shattered by a stone driven up by roundshot at Ligny (16 June 1815). The subsequent amputation of his hand prevented him from being present at Waterloo two days later, however he nonetheless compiled a final and much needed report of the Prussian disposition for Wellington. After Waterloo the Duke devoted a special Gazette to Hardinge’s service and it was at the Grand Review of the Prussian Army near Sedan in 1817 that was noted at the time that Wellington took from his own side Napoléon’s sword and presented it to him. It is understood that Wellington may have acquired the silver-gilt hilted Biennais sabre from a French general during the Peninsular War and it cannot be discounted that he may have acquired this sword from the same source despite contemporary claims to a Napoleonic provenance.
Hardinge went on to serve as Governor-General of India and succeeded Wellington as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in September 1852.