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This hunting rifle was gifted by Queen Victoria to her loyal servant, John Brown.

Hunting rifle fact file

Date

1873

Made by

Alexander Henry

Made in

Edinburgh

Made for

John Brown, Queen Victoria's Highland Servant

Museum reference

X.2018.13

On display

You can see the rifle in the exhibition Wild and Majestic, which opens on 26 June 2019.

Did you know?

This is the first time this rifle has been on public display.

Sporting double rifle presented to John Brown by Queen Victoria.

Perhaps never in history was there so strong and true an attachment, so warm and loving a friendship between the sovereign and servant.
- Queen Victoria, in a letter to Viscount Cranbrook, 1883

John Brown was born on 8 December 1826 at Crathienaird, Crathie and Braemar in Aberdeenshire. He had worked on the Balmoral estate since 1842, and rose in the Queen’s favour to special status as Her Majesty’s Highland Servant. After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861, Brown supported Queen Victoria in her grief. Gossip soon spread regarding the Queen’s closeness to Brown and his influence over the royal household.

Carte-de-visite depicting John Brown, by George Washington Wilson, Aberdeen. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

Above: Carte-de-visite depicting John Brown, by George Washington Wilson, Aberdeen. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

Carte-de-visite depicting Queen Victoria, by W. & D. Downey, London. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

Above: Carte-de-visite depicting Queen Victoria, by W. & D. Downey, London. From the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland.

This rifle shows the connection and the affection between Queen Victoria and John Brown. The high-quality design and obvious expense of the gift highlights the position of trust and esteem in which the Queen held her loyal servant.

The gold plaque fitted to the rifle.

Above: The gold plaque fitted to the rifle reads: From VR to J Brown Esqr Christmas 1873.

A gold plaque fitted into the butt of this .450 double-barrelled hammer rifle records that Queen Victoria presented it to John Brown as a Christmas gift in 1873. It was made that year in Edinburgh by noted Edinburgh gun maker Alexander Henry.

Brown died unexpectedly in 1883. Devastated by his loss, the Queen wrote to Brown’s brother Hugh, ‘we all have lost the best, the truest heart that ever beat!’

Above: Shortly after his death, Queen Victoria commissioned this statue of Brown from sculptor Edgar Boehm. The inscription read: Friend more than Servant. Loyal. Truthful. Brave. Self less than Duty, even to the Grave. Photo by Drow69 CC BY-SA 3.0.

Above: Statue of John Brown at Balmoral. Photo by Drow69 CC BY-SA 3.0.

Shortly after his death, Queen Victoria commissioned this statue of Brown from sculptor Edgar Boehm. The inscription read: Friend more than Servant. Loyal. Truthful. Brave. Self less than Duty, even to the Grave.

This Highland dress outfit once belonging to John Brown is also on display in the Wild and Majestic exhibition, on loan from the Scottish Tartans Authority.

Above: This Highland dress outfit once belonging to John Brown is also on display in the Wild and Majestic exhibition, on loan from the Scottish Tartans Authority.

Victoria gave out gold memorial pins like this one to mark John Brown's death.

Above: This memorial tie pin was commissioned by the Queen for her staff to wear on the anniversary of Brown’s death. You can see the pin in the Wild and Majestic exhibition.

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