Perdition to Conspirators! Magnificent 14-Barrel Flintlock

Colonel Thomas Thornton was a wealthy and somewhat flamboyant character in England in the late 18th and early 19th century. He commanded a militia unit with which he had some disagreement, and which mutinied against his comment at Roborough Camp in 1795. Some years later, he commissioned this quite unique firearm from Dupe & Company of London.

The gun is a single stock with two flintlock actions, two triggers, and two clusters of seven .30 caliber rifled barrels each. Each trigger fires a complete barrel cluster simultaneously. In addition to the firepower of this very remarkable weapon, he also had it finished in a truly magnificent fashion, including the fantastic line “PERDITION TO CONSPIRATORS” on ons of the barrel clusters – clearly he harbored some resentment towards his unruly militia subordinates even years later.

In addition, he had a second stock made to fit just one lock plate and barrel cluster, for when 14 barrels might be a bit of overkill. That stock is even more decorated that the first, with beautiful wooden relief carvings and the motto “A Verite Gagner”, meaning something to the effect of “Truth From Victory”.

This gun is part of the Liege arms museum’s display of civilian arms, and I’d like to thank them for taking it out of their display so I could show it to you. If you are in Liege, stop in and see the museum!

18 Comments

  1. Fantastic, almost 3-dimensional figural wood carving on the 7-bbl buttstock! Never seen anything like that before.

  2. If the bullets were cast to fit, like Whitworth bullets, would this be the earliest elongated (e.g. non-spherical) bullet?

    • I’d say no. Lead balls were used because they were easy to cast in towers (just drop lead into a bucket of water from on high) and good enough and easy to use for smoothbore muskets. But there have always been tinkerers that tried this or that. e.g. increasing the mass of the projectile which leads to a cylinder shape.

  3. Thornton was, judging from his portrait, as cheerily daft as ten hatters. IMHO, he was one of the great English eccentrics. Yes, I know, that’s a high bar to clear, but here we have material proof of it.

  4. Interesting.
    Shotguns with many trunks I have seen. As it turned out, they were made for the commercial shooting of bird flocks. This supposedly allowed to save charges depending on the size of the packs.
    But I can’t imagine why such a rifle might be needed …
    Apparently, solely for intimidation.

    This is not Whitworth rifling, this is the usual primitive rectangular rifling that most artisanal gunsmiths used.

    • However, there is one thought.
      An extended bullet from a rifled barrel can pierce two or more people into a crowd.

      This inventor was a real maniac…

  5. A spherical .30 caliber bullet would weigh about 40 grains, so a modestly elongated bullet might weigh about 85 grains, typical of 7.63 Mauser, or the Soviet 7.62 x 25.

    Even black powder charged rifle barrels could get close to SMG velocities, so think of this as flintlock capable of firing 2 7 round bursts, as if from a PPS-43.

    Not too shabby for the beginning of the XIX century!

  6. The nock gun perfected ? / !. Like you I have never even heard of this ‘interesting’ gun. That appears to be both ingenious and though apparently ‘flaky’ surprisingly practical and potentially effective (though of course VERY expensive – even if it producable in a basic version) e.g. the lighter caliber, Whitworth rifling and loading aid etc.

  7. After watching this video, I resolve from this day forward to use the phrase “Perdition to conspirators!” whenever the opportunity presents itself.

    (Might there be a “Perdition to conspirators!” T-shirt made available in the near future?)

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