Dr. Watson, bring your revolver(s)

So I saw this interesting listing pop up from Milestone Auctions, centered on a cased pair of beautiful (although non-sequential) Colt Model 1878 double action cartridge revolvers.

As you may well remember, the Colt 1871 and follow-up 1873 (aka Peacemaker, aka Single Action Army) brought the iconic wheelgun maker back from bankruptcy and into the cartridge revolver-era, and the 1878 being double action, was essentially the most tactical wheelgun on the market when it was released.

With 5.5-inch barrels and a massive .455/476 Enfield Eley Mark III chambering, these big gate-loading Colts were certainly man-stoppers.

Even more interesting, and the caliber may have given it away. is the fact that these two Colts are English silver plated with bird’s head rosewood grips and are covered with both British proof house marks and Colt’s London address on the barrels.

For sure, these were presentation guns for a special occasion or person. A clue is in the auction listing which reads that one of the guns :

“..appears in the copy of Army & Navy sales ledger as sold in England to Caton Jones, Sup FW on Sept 9, 1885, with no details on guns finish. How they ended up together as a pair and plated while in England is a mystery.”

Going to the Army List for that year, we find one Frederick William Caton Jones, MB (Medicinae Baccalaureus), MRCS (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons), is listed as commissioned 30 May 1885. He was 25 years old.

Bound for India, our good Dr. Caton Jones later turns up in future listings as a Surgeon assigned in 1891 to the Bombay garrison with the Army in India, where he was still posted as of the 1906 Army List. During that period he rose to Major on 30 May 1897 and to Lt. Colonel on 30 May 1905.

As published in The Western Australian, 24 August 1900, Caton-Jones was mixing it up with the Boers while in Kitchener’s brigade.

Surgeon-Major F. W. Caton Jones, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, writing to his sister, Mrs. Cumming from Newcastle, South Africa, under date July 22, says :–

I am just getting over that Ladysmith business now and can get along all right without taking medicine, but it has taken four months to do it. I have a very nice commando of my own now. Am in charge of the 7th Brigade, Field Hospital and Bearer Company. It is an Indian hospital and a perfect unit.

I have under me one officer, R.A.M.C.; two civil surgeons (in place of R.A.M.C. officers); eight assistant surgeons (Indian Apothecaries); one conductor (Indian army); two civilian conductors, four sergeants, and eight nursing orderlies (British army from India); 42 Indian Army Hospital native corps, 126 Indian dhoolee-bearers, and 50 drivers.

I am equipped for a hundred sick in hospital, and put up double that number at a pinch. I can carry 52 men lying down and 12 sitting in my sick transport, 20 lying in the dhoolies, and 94 sitting in my wheeled ambulances, if I put no lying down cases in the latter; a good deal to be responsible for.

Our brigade, under Brigadier General Kitchener, is at Newcastle, on the lines of communication. Of course, we are very sick at not getting forward, but someone must stay behind. Thank goodness, the grass is burnt round the camp. Veldt fires happen every day. One field hospital was burnt, but luckily no one was injured.

This is a fine country, and very healthy. All colonists say we shall have to be much sterner with the Boers before they will give in. I believe sternness would save very many lives both of, theirs and ours. If the Indian hospitals are sent back to India in September, I may go to China.

By 1911, the good doctor was back from his long overseas deployments and stationed in Tidworth Barracks in south-east Wiltshire, England where he remained until 1914.

By 1916, I can find then-Colonel FW Caton-Jones OB, AMS, ADMS (Assistant Director Medical Services), as head of the Medical Board of Officers assembled at No 1 General Hospital, Etretat, in Normandy, serving with the BEF “on the Continent.”

Col. FW Caton-Jones, 1916, via IWM

Why the big pistols for a man of medicine, besides the obvious need for a gentleman of the period to have arms while campaigning?

It seems the good Dr. Caton-Jones was a true English gentleman officer while abroad and was something of a noted big game hunter as well as a man of arts, science, and letters.

In 1914, he contributed a chapter to Major-General A.E. Wardrop’s “Modern Pig-Sticking,” a tome about horse-mounted tiger and boar hunting, particularly centered in India.

An illustration from Modern Pig Sticking, circa 1914

Caton-Jones was uniquely qualified to write the chapter at the time as he was the 1907 winner of the Nagpur Hunt cup. The Spectator called the volume, “one of the pleasantest books on the sport that we have seen for a long time.”

Caton-Jones had previously written other scholarly works for the Journal of Bombay Natural History (“Some Notes on Wild Dogs and Panthers”) as well as for the British Army’s Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (“The Sanitation of Standing Camps in India”). He also wrote/co-wrote at least seven papers in the respected The Lancet medical journal. Still other papers appeared in The Medical Press and Circular, and The Journal of the Royal Institute of Public Health.

After moving to the reserve list following the Great War and more than 30 years of military service, Caton-Jones later reappeared in India and Kenya while still submitting articles on both medicine and hunting (see= The Hoghunter’s Annual, Times of India Press, 1930).

At some point, he was made a Companion of the Order of Bath and a fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health.

Colonel Frederick William Caton Jones, CB, RAMC, Veteran of the Boer Wars, the Great War and assorted Indian campaigns, and scourge of tigers and wild boar, died at his Earlsdale estate on 7 June 1944, aged 83.

No word on if a Mr. Holmes attended his funeral.

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