Genealogy and Me: Waterloo
Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The Napoleonic Wars were never an era of history I knew much about or was particularly interested until a few years ago when studying my family tree. Now I am desperate to find out more information on several members of my family, both directly linked or great uncles, who served during the Napoleonic Wars. Here is a bit of what I have found out so far.
My 5x Great Grandfather was a man named Robert Carry. Depending on which piece of documentation he appears on, his surname varies; Carry, Cairy, Kerry, Carey. On the baptism record for his son, it mentioned that Robert was a private in the 42nd Regiment of Foot. At the time we found this, neither my mother or I had any idea who the 42nd Regiment of Foot were, but we worked out from the date of John’s birth that it was during the Napoleonic Wars. The only thing that I can remember us discussing was our thoughts that Robert could be Irish from his surname.
I tried contacting a few different groups online who had connections to the 42nd Regiment of Foot, such as re-enactment groups (at the time, the Blackwatch Museum was not taking any queries) but received no responses. I had found that the 42nd became the Blackwatch later on, but other than that, I felt I was really clutching at straws. So for a number of years, I moved my focus to other parts of my family tree.
With the anniversary of the start of World War 1, I signed up to a military genealogy page to see if I could find any information on my Great Grandfather, Francis Fleming, who had fought in the Great War and had been working with horses. I found no information on him, but as I had paid a subscription to the website, I thought I would try to find if there was anything about Robert. Again, I found nothing (and won’t use or recommend the website I used to anyone). However, I went onto a forum associated with the website and some wonderful person suggested trying to look through the National Archives website. I finally found something about Robert!
I registered for Find My Past and managed to get a copy of Robert’s discharge from the 42nd. He was born in Co. Westmeath and was discharged due to his injuries at Waterloo! I was so excited! I called my mum to let her know. She was excited but there was a sense of sorrow in her voice. “Ah!” she said. “Your Pops loved the Sharpe series. I wish he had known that his relative fought at Waterloo!”
Robert signed up to the 42nd on 12 May 1805. He met my 5x Great Grandmother, Marion Tough, when stationed in Inveresk (near Edinburgh, Scotland) where they were married 9th March 1811. He served in Canada, and I have found some of his records from there through Ancestry.co.uk. He had several injuries from his time in the 42nd which were mentioned on his discharge papers. He was injured at Corunna, Toulouse and finally at Waterloo where he received an injury to his hip and damage to his eyesight so was no longer fit to serve. He and Marion had at least 8 children, including John who seems to have been born on a boat while Robert and Marion were travelling with the battalion. Mary, the second child I have found, was also born while Robert and Marion were with the battalion in Glasgow. The other 6 children I have discovered were all born back in Inveresk in Scotland.
I now am hoping to find if Robert was baptised in Westmeath when the Irish records are finally available online later this year. I have no idea about the rest of his family and am desperate to find out more!
Alongside Robert and Marion Carry was Marion’s older brother, George Tough. He signed up to the 42nd on 11th May 1810. I have only just found records of him yesterday on both FindMyPast and Ancestry.co.uk. I had no idea that he had served in the army until I was looking for Marion’s twin brother William Tough on the National Archives website. I knew William had served but I didn’t realise TWO of Marion’s brothers had signed up to fight in the Napoleonic Wars.
George was discharged from the army with injuries that no longer allowed him to fight, much like his brother-in-law, Robert. George had his left forearm amputated around the time of Waterloo, on the 16th of June. Despite the amputation, it appears that he fought at Waterloo and received recognition for this in his military records. Like Robert, he served in Canada, but unlike Robert I have found far more records of him and the pay he received. I assume this was due to his injuries being more severe than Roberts and that he was Scottish rather than Irish.
William Tough was Marion Tough’s twin brother. Unlike Robert and George, William was part of the 94th Regiment of Foot who did not go to Waterloo, but were in Ireland while Waterloo was underway. He went to Canada too like the 42nd Regiment had. He received recognition for his services in Vitorria, Nivelle, Orthes and Toulouse.
Like George, I found most of his information last night. I knew William fought during the Napoleonic Wars as I had found documents that backed this information up. However, it was only last night that I found out which regiment he had fought with.
Another member of my family was a soldier during the Napoleonic Wars. On the death certificate of Elizabeth, his daughter, it says that John Wilson’s occupation had been a soldier. Elizabeth was born in St Kitts in about 1804 and I am hoping that this information will help me to work out which regiment John fought with, but for now I am completely in the dark. I contacted the archives in St Kitts years ago who told me there wasn’t many records, but at that point I had no idea about her parents name or that John was a soldier.
Napoleonic Wars and My Family
I find it very interesting that there were 2 direct ancestors and 2 relatives that fought within the Napoleonic Wars. I only have 2 members of my direct family that fought in the First and Second World Wars with work on the Home Front as miners being highly valued. I wasn’t sure that there were any members of my family within the military in my direct ancestral line, so it’s really sparked my interest in this period of history that I knew very little of before.
I am as gutted as my mum that her dad (my Pops) never knew that his ancestors fought at Waterloo, especially since he loved the Sharpe series so much. Hopefully I will be able to uncover a lot more about my ancestors and do my Pops proud of reviving this knowledge into our family history!
Posted on June 18, 2015, in Blogging and tagged 200 Years, 42nd Regiment of Foot, 94th Regiment of Foot, Bicentennial, Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, George Tough, History, Inveresk, John Wilson, Musselburgh, Napoleon, Napoleonic Wars, Research, Robert Carry, Waterloo, Westmeath, William Tough. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.