Scott christening cup

© Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

Captain Scott of the Antarctic was born at ‘Outlands House’, on the outskirts of Devonport, on 6 June 1868. He was christened at Stoke Damerel Church on 30 June.

Scott’s parents were John Edward Scott and Hannah (née Cuming). They were married at St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth in July 1862. Robert Falcon Scott was the third of six children and their first son.

The Christening Cup was one of several presentation items of family silver sold by Sir Peter Scott, Captain Scott’s son, in about 1986. It was lent for display at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery in early 2012 – an important exhibit in the popular temporary exhibition ‘From Plymouth to Pole’. The Cup was subsequently offered for private sale to Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage.

A successful fundraising campaign secured the all-important grant support that enabled the city to acquire the Cup. The biggest thanks are due to the Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund, who contributed half of the agreed purchase cost. The Heritage Lottery Fund kindly offered a 35 per cent contribution towards the purchase, with additional funds to promote the city’s Antarctic connections and support the Cup’s display and interpretation. Thanks are also due to Plymouth City Council Arts and Heritage, the Friends of Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery and the Devon & Cornwall Polar Society, all on whom made generous contributions.

The Christening Cup

The silver gilt chalice has a knopped stem and is engraved and punched with a vine leaf pattern. It is stamped on the rim with the silver hallmark and duty stamp for London 1867-8, and the slightly mis-stamped maker’s mark of EB & JB in quatrefoil – for Edward and John Barnard of London.

Barnard & Sons made many different items of silver, from one-off commissions to commercial pieces. They were also an important producer of municipal plate. This chalice may have been a stock item distributed to another retailer. The personalised engraving R. F. Scott from M. & S. Falcon June 30 1868 was probably completed by the retailing silversmiths when the chalice was purchased.

The Falcon Connection

This Christening Cup was originally presented to Scott by his godparents, M. & S. Falcon. This, presumably, explains the origin of Scott’s given middle name.

So far, our enquiries have failed to discover the exact relationship between the Scott and Falcon families. What connects the Falcons and the Scotts? Can you help us to solve this mystery?

It seems likely that M. & S. Falcon are Michael Joseph (1805-1882) and Sophia M Falcon (née Harrington, 1822-1901). Michael Falcon was born in one of Kirkudbrightshire, Scotland or Cumberland. Sophia was born in Dieppe, France – but her eldest sister Dora Harrington had been born in Plymouth Dock – Devonport.

In 1861, Michael, an ‘American Merchant’, and Sophia Falcon were living in Guildford with two of their children – both born in Chile. It has also been noted that Emily, another of Sophia’s sisters, had children who were born in Chile.