Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904).
Prince George spent much of his childhood in Hanover where his father was governor-general. He was sent to England in 1830 to live with King William IV and Queen Adelaide where he was privately educated by tutors. In 1835, the date of the inscription of the present lot, he was installed as a Knight of the Garter.
The Duke was destined for a career in the army from the age of nine when he was appointed a colonel in the Jäger battalion of the Hanoverian Guards. After the accession of Queen Victoria the duke was made a brevet colonel in the British army and served in Gibraltar, England and Ireland. He most notably saw active service during the Crimean War in 1854 at the battle of Alma where his horse was shot from under him. In 1856 he became general commanding-in-chief. He was to serve until his much resisted retirement in 1895.
The Duke was described as 'a bluff, fresh, hale, country gentlemen, with something of the vigorous frankness of the English skipper and something, too, of the Prussian martinet; industrious, punctual, rising early, seeking rest late, fond of life and its pleasures, of good dinners, good cigars, pleasant women, of the opera, of the play' (Society in London, London, 1885, p. 19). It has been said that his tenure of office as Commander in Chief of the Army for 39 years was noticeable for his opposition to a number of Army reforms. However he was a strong supporter of military education and founded the School of Military Music in 1857 and was a governor of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.
He married, in contravention of the Royal Marriage Act of 1772, in 1847, Sarah, daughter of Robert Fairbrother, a theatrical printer. She was a popular actress in burlesques and bore him three sons who adopted the surname FitzGeorge. The 2nd Duke died in 1904 when the dukedom became extinct. He had amassed a considerable silver collection, much of which was sold by Christie's later that year.
Charles Davis (1788-1867)
It is possible that the presentation inscription relates to Charles Davis (1788-1867), Huntsman to the Royal Hunt, who served until King George III, King George IV and Queen Victoria. He started in royal service at the age of 12 as whipper-in to his father who hunted the King's Harriers. He was made Huntsman to the Royal Buck Hounds in 1825 and was starter at Ascot Races until 1846. His brother was the noted sporting artist Richard Barrett David (1782-1854). Charles Davis is recorded as having received a number of gifts from members of the Royal Family. The Queen gave him a silver mounted whip in 1842 and the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, his field pupil, a bay hunter Comus, that was to be his last horse.