A RARE .700 FLINTLOCK RIFLE BY HENRY NOCK FOR THE LONDON & WESTMINSTER LIGHT HORSE VOLUNTEER, CIRCA 1798, muster no. 53,
with 30in. barrel rifled with seven grooves of slightly rounded form (Nock's design) giving 1/2 turn in 30in., and fitted with Nock's patent chambered breech, blade front-sight, and fixed block rear-sight, the first four inches of the barrel is smooth-bored for ease of loading, the rifle is fitted with Nock's famed screwless lock signed to the centre 'H. NOCK', brass mounted full walnut stock, the fore-end slit to prevent jamming of the rod, furniture included two rammer pipes, nosecap, scroll trigger-guard, patchbox and butt-plate engraved on the top '53', complete with sling swivels and original rammer
Provenance: This interesting rifle dates to circa 1798, its design based on the Harcourts or 1796 carbine also designed by Nock, and it predates the Baker rifle. It was one of a quantity made for the elite London & Westminster Light Horse Volunteers who were made up of the cream of London society, its members included cabinet ministers, members of the nobility, senior public servants and one or two relatives of Henry Nock. During the wars with revolutionary France, volunteer units mushroomed over the whole country, the L.&W. L.H.V was one such unit. Being an elite unit it participated ceremonial duties such as being part of the guard at Lord Nelson's funeral and performing in front of George III and the Prince of Wales. They were originally formed as a mounted unit, later an infantry section was added with ten officers and 195 privates and the Nock rifles were for this section. It is believed less than 100 were supplied, today there are 29 known specimens. This example in its original configuration, many were modified around 1802/03, the barrels shortened by four inches removing the smoothbore section and adding a bar for a Baker style sword bayonet. A raised leather cheek piece was also added. It is believed the modifications were advocated by Major Harding Stacey who commanded the units infantry section, strangely examination of surviving specimens reveals not all the rifles were modified. The Muster roll for the unit is believed to still exist
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