Date added: 26 Nov 2015
My name is Caroline McGeever (nee Ware) and I've lived in Hampshire for most of my life and about 6 years ago was keen to find out about the “Ware’ family history. I contacted a company called Ancestral Footsteps to help with the research. Most of my ancestors were called ‘John’ and they were all farmers living in the Winchester area. In the parish of Wonston the Baptism records of 1786 show John was the ‘base’ child (meaning out of wedlock) born to Dorothy Ware. This meant he was given his mother’s maiden name. Dorothy married John Ford in 1788 in Wonston Church. Two years after giving birth to John. Their marriage was witnessed by Elisabeth Ford (possibly his mother). It looks like they were not able to sign themselves as it says on the certificate ‘The mark of’ and shows an ‘X’ with their names written in for them afterwards (remember this is 1788 and they were ‘farmers!’). Returning to John Ware/Ford we have a death certificate for him in 1845 showing he was 59 years of age and died of Bronchitis. It states that he is John Ware and he is a Military Pensioner. His burial record in Wonston Church again 1845 says “John Ware’ Otherwise called “John Ford’ so we can assume he kept the “Ware” name but was also known as Ford. We went to the church which is beautiful but sadly, we could not find any headstones bearing his name. The next part of my journey had me researching the military history of John my ancestor by driving up to London. Jo told me that the records of the Chelsea Pensioners had been released two years ago. I searched for a John Ware born 1786 and nothing showed. I then searched John Ford of the same birth year and it had an entry for his same details and from Winchester. We have a copy of his discharge records from 1804; John Ford served in The 15th Kings Light Dragoons (Hussars). The regiment then favoured by the King, placed his fifth son at its head. The first regiment to be converted to Hussars - The Duke of Cumberland became the Colonel of the regiment in 1801.We were taken to the National Army Museum where we met Alistair an army historian, who had found out lots of information regarding the regiment in which John Ford was serving John Ford was a Private; he served for twenty-four years and 6 days! He joined at the age of 18 years and we have a copy of the recruiting card posted at the time which would have encouraged him to join saying “The Highest Bounty will be given for a Few Heroes to complete this gallant Regiment.” His discharge record shows that he served over 22 years and 2 extra years given because he had taken part in the Battle of Waterloo. Making 24 years in total, which meant he could leave and get his pension at 40 years of age. The reason given for his discharge was ‘Rheumatism and being ‘worn out’ as a consequence of his service.’ If he had given a reason, which was not related to his service, he would not have received his pension. I wondered what he looked like, his records state he was 5ft 8” tall with brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. I have pictures of John’s uniform that he would have worn at the time, details of pay, and copies from diaries of the regiment’s movements at that time. In the museum is a large model based on accounts from men who served in the ‘Battle of Waterloo.’ The Light Calvary were used at the front end of a battle, mounted on their horses, swinging swords and ‘chopping’ the enemy down injuring as many men as possible! Soldiers who served at ‘Waterloo’ were the first ones to receive a war medal; they have one exhibited in the museum. Unfortunately, but probably due to needs must, John’s was sold at Glendinning’s auction rooms in 1909 Just over 100 years after he was discharged. There are no record of where the medal is now. After John Ford retired in 1804 and (as I said earlier) he was buried in Wonston churchyard 41 years later at the age of 59 as John Ware. I was curious as to why John had used both surnames and through the internet found a distant cousin of my father (Peter Ware). She told me that she had seen a family bible stating that John Ford was in fact the legitimate Father of John, so we are still unsure why he changed his name back to ‘Ware’ after he retired, this remains a mystery, if he had not my maiden name would have been Caroline Ford.