Two flintlock blunderbusses, one by John Dafte, circa 1680.

Each weapon has a brass three-stage barrel engraved with an E for Exeter, beneath a coronet, the lock engraved with strawberry foliage and full brass mounts. The butt plate on one is inscribed ‘No. 5’ and has its original ramrod; it is unsigned. The other, has a butt plate inscribed ‘No. 9’ and a signed lock. One is 78cm overall; the barrel 41cm; the other is 75cm overall and the barrel 41cm.

On each trip abroad, the 5th Earl of Exeter’s party included several ‘gentleman soldiers.’ Their role was to provide a measure of security, protecting the travellers against thieves and brigands. These men, usually officers on half-pay leave from their regiments, were equipped with weapons brought from the household armoury at Burghley. A consequence of carrying arms whilst travelling was that customs duty for them had to be paid on entering any walled or defended town.

REFERENCE: ARM20035 & ARM20036

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