The Armoury with Doug Chapman
As our resident armourer and, I suppose, weapons expert I thought it might be of interest to introduce readers to some of the kit – both original and replica – that we have used in our living history displays, re-enactments or lectures. Most of which will have come from either John’s or my collections. A lot of the guns including antiques will have been shot by me with full, blank or reduced charges.
One of my main interests is in researching the background and seeing how weapons and armour really performed. Questions and comments like “is it true that you couldn’t hit a barn door at 40 paces with a musket” or “you be better of using your sword as a club rather than a cutting implement” or even “what is the fog of war” all exercise my mind. I maybe need to find something more meaningful to do in life, however this will have to do until that day dawns.
Much of what we do concerns not only armour but the dress of the times. In more turbulent times this may well be the same thing but mainly we see an ever changing parade of uniforms and haberdashery which is the main reason for many of us doing what we do. We will try and feed in some articles on dress – sources and even patterns for the talented out there. Here honesty requires me to say that the main input for this will come not from me but from the very talented and knowledgeable cadre that is Time Bandits.
Hopefully The Armoury will prove to be informative and helpful; however we would never profess to be correct in all things and will welcome any feedback from those more knowledgeable.
Brass Barrelled Blunderbuss by Blyth
One of our favorite guns from my collection is this brass barreled blunderbuss which has appeared in a few sketches and a couple of John’s lectures. It is signed by Blyth and sports a heavy brass barrel.
The term "blunderbuss" is of Dutch origin, from the Dutch word donderbus, which is a combination of donder, meaning "thunder", and buss, meaning "Pipe".
The blunderbuss is an early shotgun, and served a similar role. Many ancient accounts list the blunderbuss as being loaded with various scrap iron or rocks however this would most likely result in damage to the bore of the gun so it was typically loaded with a number of lead balls that were appreciably smaller than the bore diameter. Barrels were made of brass or steel.
The muzzle and sometimes the bore were flared to increase the spread of the shot and also to funnel powder and shot into the weapon which made it easier to reload whilst bouncing around on a moving horse or carriage. It seems that that the flaring of the muzzle doesn’t really have any effect on shot spread. Blunderbusses tended to have short barrels often less than 24 inches long.
Looking at the history of our gun and searching those records I have, show there to be 3 Blyth’s who gun or pistol makers were at appropriate dates –
Henry Blyth of Tower Street, London circa 1760
John Feekin Blyth of South End, Alford, Lincolnshire 1848 – 1868
Richard Blyth of Court, 6 Livery Street, Birmingham 1832 -1839
The gun carries 3 marks one above another – at the top is a crown above cp which was the English black powder proof for London since 1637
The one in the middle is normally the gun maker’s mark
The bottom mark is a crown over a V which was the English inspection mark for London since 1637
Marked along the top next to the proof marks are the letters T-Y 6257
Initially it was thought that this was an Irish gun with the T-Y standing for County Tyrone which it may still be.
My current thoughts are that due to marks and dates it must be a London gun made by Henry Blyth and possibly sold into service in Ireland.
My research continues and I welcome any thoughts.