Date added: 13 Aug 2017
Joseph Munday, Waterloo Veteran
I knew very little of the Napoleonic Wars or specifically, the Battle at Waterloo. I didn’t even know that Waterloo was located in Belgium, or what a “hussar” was. It was only after discovering that my three times great grandfather fought in this battle that I became determined to learn more about this ancestor, and what his place was in this time in history.
I learned that Joseph Munday fought with the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment in the British Army, at the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th of June 1815, under Lord Uxbridge, with the Marquis of Anglesey as their Colonel. It was near Waterloo in present day Belgium, that the Duke of Wellington’s forces defeated the French Army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte.
As a result of this battle, Joseph Munday received the Waterloo Medal. According to Joseph Munday’s cemetery marker, he was born in April 1787, and in census and marriage records it was learned that he was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, England. At the time of Joseph’s early years Wimbledon was a rural area, with some nobility and wealthy merchants living in the area. The family would have attended St. Mary’s Church, a Church of England church, which still stands near the end of Wimbledon Park. Joseph Munday joined the Army around 1810, joining the 7th Hussar regiment. He fought at the Battle or Orthez in 1814 in southern France, and the Battle of Quatre Bras two days before the Battle of Waterloo. At this time, Joseph was a Private in the Army.
History shows that one of his very great friends was Edward Cotton, a fellow soldier and 7th Hussar. During his service to the Army, Joseph was married at St Margaret’s Church at Westminster, Middlesex, England on the 14th of March, 1819 to a Flemish woman that he no doubt met during his time at Waterloo. Isabella Rose Allender, born 11 October 1799 in France bore at least nine children to this union. During his military career Joseph and his young and growing family traveled extensively through the British Isles and Europe. He moved up the ranks from Private, then Corporal, then Sergeant-Major. He retired from the Army in August 1831.
Joseph and Isabella returned to Belgium and northern France in late 1842 to early 1843. Isabella had her last child, George Munday in Le Havre, France in 1843. Sadly, she died four years later while living in Tours, France at the age of 47. At this time Joseph Munday was an Innkeeper or Hotelier. This all changed with the sudden death of Edward Cotton in 1849. Joseph Munday, being his brother-in-law and a fellow 7th Hussar at the Battle of Waterloo took over the running of the hotel and museum, and began working as a tour guide in place of Edward Cotton. This was the kind of work that Joseph Munday excelled in.
He is best known as being a well-respected Waterloo battlefield guide. During the spring and summer months, Joseph Munday would accompany travelers to the battlefield, providing them with an account of the battle and showing them Hougoumont, a country house, the orchards where the fighting took place and other places of interest. There have been many publications in books, newspapers and magazines published in the 1850’s that speak of his soldier like bearing, his knowledge of the battle and the soldiers. One of these many accounts comes from "Household Words, Volume 3," by Charles Dickens 1851. “In Waterloo, there is an excellent hotel kept by Serjeant Munday, an Englishman who was in the battle, and who has succeeded as guide to his brother-in-law, the late well-known Serjeant-Major Cotton, the author of the admirable little guide-book, "A Voice from Waterloo." If you visit the field, Serjeant Munday is your man. He is about sixty; hale, fresh, frank; upwards of six feet in height, and a gentleman in manners. He has none of the showman about him. You go over the ground feeling as if you had fallen in with a well-informed yeoman of the neighbourhood, who is delighted to conduct you over that most impressive scene, and tell you all that he knows of it. While he is zealous to state the real facts of the real history, no man will ever hear him utter a word injurious to the honour of the French;-on the contrary, he is the first to bear cordial testimony to their bravery and spirit. With this excellent guide, we drove on, after a hearty luncheon, to Mont St. Jean, where we stopped a short time to examine the Museum of Waterloo relics, which is kept there by his daughter. Here, besides portraits and autographs of almost all the eminent generals concerned in the battle, including those of Wellington, Napoleon, and Blücher, there is an immense collection of arms, cuirasses, clothing, and accoutrements, gathered from the field.“ In Sharpes London Magazine, an article written by Frederic Carrington, titled “To Waterloo and Back” described Joseph Munday in this way. “Sergeant Munday was not only our own countryman, but one we might justly be proud of. He is the beau ideal of a veteran…tall, square and stout, but without an inch of superfluous fat; his moustache is grey, as well as his venerable head; he is plain spoken, though modest withal; and he is apparently full of work, though he had reached the patriarchal age of sixty.seven. During his capacity as tour guide, Joseph Munday must have met some very well-known artists, authors and celebrities. He met people from all over the world. He must have realized at some point, that America was the land of opportunity for his small family.
Three years after the death of Isabella Rose, Joseph Munday remarried. At the time he had three young children still living at home, from his marriage to Isabella. Ellen was about 15 years of age, Louise was 8 years old, and George was 7. His second marriage would give the three children a stepmother, and a wife and mother of five more children. On the 21st of January, 1850, Joseph Munday married Martha Almond in Brussels, Belgium as British citizens. At the time of this marriage, Joseph was 63 years of age. Martha was 37 years of age. To this union five children were born. This second family immigrated to America in the mid-1860. He sent their four older children, Elizabeth, Martha, William and Lucy, teenagers at the time, separately to the states. Then finally, Joseph, Martha and their youngest son, John, arrived in New York the 13th of April 1867. The three of them joined Martha’s brother, Stephen Almond in Iowa. Joseph Munday, at the age of 83, died in Monroe Township, Johnson County, Iowa on the 6th of November 1870. The young adults that were sent ahead remained in the homes where they had employment. In America, the Munday line died out with his grandson William Carroll Munday. Another grandson, John Hyatt Downing, became a well-known American author of several books including, “Sioux City” which was made into a movie.
Joseph Munday was my great-great-great grandfather.