Sold with original Horse Guards forwarding letter, addressed to the recipient's widow and signed by 'Frederick, Commander-in-Chief' (dated 4.6.1816); together with a most attractive 'In Memoriam' locket, gold and enamel, the obverse with glazed centre over woven lockets of the recipient's hair, and the reverse enrgraved, 'Major-General Jn. Byne Skerrett, Died 9 March 1814, Aged 36'.
Major-General John Byne Skerrett was born in 1777 and first saw active service in the Expedition to recover St. Lucia in April 1794, while serving as a Lieutenant in the 48th Foot. As with other Officers of the day, he had already exchanged into, and out of several Regiments, in addition to experiencing stints on Half-Pay, features that would continue over the next decade until he settled in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 47th Foot in January 1804. Service in South Africa and in India followed and he was given the Brevet of Colonel in July 1810, shortly before being ordered to Spain.
In June 1811, Skerrett was detached with a small force, including the 2/47th Regiment, to go to the assistance of the defenders of Tarragona. Arriving there in H.M.S. Regulus at the end of the month, he opted against landing his troops on the basis that he considered 'further defence of that place impossible'. Returning to Spain, via Minorca, he was subsequently appointed to the command of the Anglo-Spanish Garrison at Tarifa, and successfully repulsed Marshal Victor's attempt to storm that place at the end of the year. Appointed to the command of 'a force of all arms' of 1800 men in August 1812, Skerrett joined the Spanish under General La Cruz Murgeon and participated in a number of successful actions, one at Seville leading to the capture of some 200 men and two guns. Then in October he joined General Hill's force in Wellington's Army.
Advanced to Major-General in early June 1813, Skerrett was given command of the 2nd Brigade in Lowry Cole's 4th Division and led it at the Battle of Vittoria a few days later, and afterwards took over Vandeleur's Brigade of the Light Division, once more seeing action at Vera that September.
Then in December he was given command of a Brigade in General Graham's force, which landed in Holland on 15.12.1813 and participated in the attack on Merxem. In March 1814 plans were drawn-up to storm Bergen-op-Zoom and Skerrett was assigned the task of taking the Antwerp Gate with the Right Column, a daring enterprise that would cost him his life: 'Skerrett was the first of his party who mounted the walls, when he was wounded in the hand, then in the thigh - but still he went on - and at last in the head' (A contemporary report refers).