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A Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund sword, one of 23 awarded to captains who fought at Trafalgar, that sold for $235,000 (£173,000) at James D Julia in Fairfield, Maine.

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This sword was presented to Captain William George Rutherford, the only US-born British captain in the battle.

Rutherford was born in 1764 in Wilmington, North Carolina, to a loyalist family. The family returned to Scotland where the young William was educated at the University of St Andrews before embarking on a successful naval career.

At Trafalgar he captained the Swiftsure, which tried to tow the French ship Redoubtable but was forced to cut the line when it suddenly sank.

The sword, with its detailed inscription to the blade, remained in the family until 1962 when it was brought to the US by a collector of early arms, Valmore Forgett.

Three descendants of Captain Rutherford travelled great distances to watch the sword sell, including his great-great-great-niece, Ann Rutherford Marden Grainger, who first learned of its sale while reading a newspaper on the London Underground. She also, in a way, continues the family’s proud tradition – as the winner of two Olympic silver medals in rowing (representing the US in 1984 and 1988).