This is a British Navy issued Enfield Mark I revolver. It shows War Department W^D markings on the left frame as well as a inspection mark (Crown/BR) on the upper right grip. The top of the grip is stamped with a large N indicating Navy usage. This revolver was once in the collection of Jac Weller, a noted footballer, historian, firearms collector, researcher and author. Serial number is 5567.
The Enfield Mark I revolver was developed out of the British War Departments attempts in the late 1870's to develop a simultaneous ejecting revolver. Since adopting central fire revolvers in the early 1870's the military had persisted with the gate loading, rod ejecting design of the Adams revolver. However the future was in a simultaneous ejecting revolver and the War Department conducted several trials in the mid 1870’s but found no suitable revolver available. As a result a decision was taken to develop their own at the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield.
The resulting revolver comprised patents and ideas from different designers. The lock was by Baron Thornton de Mouncie (who apparently stole the design from the Belgian gunmaker, Warnant) & gunmaker Walter Scott. It was then improved by Thomas Perry, Manager of Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield. The simultaneous ejection system was a design by Owen Jones, an American of Welsh origin.
The Royal Navy was keen to adopt the new revolver and conducted service trials in January 1880. Manufacture began in April 1880 and the pattern was sealed on 10th Aug 1880 (LoC 3776) as Pistol, Revolver, B.L., Enfield (Mark I) Interchangeable.
Problems soon appeared. Early guns had some of the parts nickel plated and flaking nickel caused cylinder jams. In addition chamber mouths were rifled resulting in rapid lead collection which impacted accuracy. There were numerous other problems which quickly led to the introduction of the improved Mark II revolver in March 1882.
In addition to design problems, several inventors claimed rewards over various parts of the design. After protracted action the bulk of the reward was finally allocated to Monsieur Warnant of Liege, with a smaller amount to John Stanton for the rebounding lock. Apparently neither Thornton de Mouncie, Walter Scott or Owen Jones received any rewards.
New ammunition was still under development when the revolver was introduced so the military was instructed that older .450 Boxer ammunition was to be used. Several months later, in November 1880, the new ammunition was sealed as LoC 3792 - Cartridge, Small Arm, Ball, Pistol, Revolver, Enfield, B.L., (Marks I & II). In December 1881 an improved pattern of ammunition was introduced as LoC 3970 - Cartridge, S.A. Ball, Pistol. Revolver, Enfield B.L. (Marks II and III) which increased the bullet diameter in the Mark III pattern from .455" to .477".
Despite being called .476, these Enfield revolvers have a nominal .450 bore diameter, the same as the .450 Adams revolvers and the future .455 Webley's. The use of the .476 nomenclature appears to be based around Eley’s commercial loading.