A 19th century watercolour on ivory portrait miniature depicting Lt Col Alexander Seton who drowned in the HMS Birkenhead sinking of 1852, sold for £2100 at Stamford Auction Rooms.

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He was an officer on board HMS Birkenhead which was wrecked at Danger Point near Cape Town on February 26, 1852. There were insufficient serviceable lifeboats for all the passengers, so the soldiers (including Seton) famously stood in ranks on deck, allowing the women and children to board the boats.

Only 193 of the estimated 643 people on board survived, with the soldiers' selfless act giving rise to the standard ‘women and children first’ protocol when abandoning a ship.

The miniature (the artist is unknown) had a guide of £300-400 at Stamford Auction Rooms (20% buyer’s premium) in Lincolnshire on July 29 but, such was the appeal of the subject, it took £2100.