Object Title

18 in mortar

18 in mortar

Date

1684

Object Number

XIX.138

Provenance

From Corfu. One of three iron mortars or 'perriers' presented by the Ionian Government together with No.141 in 1842. Its companion, formerly in the Tower of London, is now in the collection of Mr.L.J.Cadbury, Birmingham. The third mortar is in the Rotunda Museum, Woolwich, No.III.80.

Physical Description

The piece has trunnions positioned on the reinforce and a large lifting loop at the breech. The chase bears in relief the lion of St. Mark surrounded by a wreath. On the reinforce is the date MDCLXXXIV with the initials TW below

Dimensions

Dimensions: Length: 4 ft 10 in (58 in) (147.3cm)

Firearms/Artillery

Serial Number nvn

Calibre

18 in (45.7 cm)

Associations

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.138.

Notes

In 1842 ten 18in mortars were reported preserved at Corfu and it was noted that some of the cannon there which bore the same initials TW also had the word BERGAMO on them(W.O.44/304). Thus it has been assumed in the past that this series of mortars was cast in Bergamo in the Ventian Republic in 1684. However, there is some doubt that the casting of large iron pieces was practised there at that date. Sigismondo Alberghetti, the Italian gun founder, came to England in 1684 to have some large iron cannon and mortars cast in 'Prince Rupert's foundry' (Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. Codici Manuscritti Italiani Cl.VII,1542-8889. In the same year the Commissioners of the Treasury in London gave orders to the Commissioners of the Customs and the Officers of the Ordnance to permit the Venetian Resident, Signor Vignola, to export 40 iron mortars and 100 iron guns 'of such natures as he shall think fit without their being proved, the republic desiring to have them proved by their own officers at Venice, and that the Commissioners of Customs take only 5s per ton custom' (C.S.P.Dom., 1683-4, p.241). If indeed the guns were made in England, then the initials TW could be those of Thomas Western who supplied cast-iron guns and mortars to the Board of Ordnance in the last quarter of the 17th century (W.O.51/15-52). These large mortars are known as Schulemberg mortars after John Matthias, Count of Schulemberg, 1661-1741, who entered the Venetian service in 1711 and successfully defended the island of Corfu against the Turks in 1716.