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Private John Benneworth

Waterloo 200


Lt.Colonel C. Dashwood's Company

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Submitted by: Ian McDonald

Date added: 8 Jul 2015

John Benneworth (or Benneyworth) was my fourth great-grandfather. According to his Army discharge papers, he was born c1780 in Curton [sic] (i.e. Kirton), Lincolnshire. Nothing is recorded of his early life, but on 16th June 1803, at Sevenoaks in Kent, he enlisted as a private soldier, his occupation being a cordwainer.

John was awarded the Peninsula Medal with clasps for Talavera, Barrosa and Fuentes de Oñoro, and he may have thought that, with the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, his days of fighting for Great Britain were over. He married Ann Perry (or Parrey), a girl from Hertfordshire, in Westminster, Middlesex in 1812 and seems to have settled down to family life; but the Battle of Waterloo still lay ahead.

The couple had two children, in 1813 and 1815, the second of whom, also a John, was born on 6th June 1815 in Westminster, ten days before hostilities commenced at Quatre Bras, and twelve days before the main battle. What anguish could Ann have been going through at the time, with her husband away in Belgium, and no accurate information being received in Britain?

John Benneworth fought at Waterloo under Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Dashwood and, as with all of those who took part in the battle, John was awarded the Waterloo Medal.

After John returned to Westminster, his and Ann's third child, Ann, was born towards the end of 1816 but died in June 1817, aged only six months.

On 17th March 1817 Jon was discharged from the Foot Guards "in consequence of being weakly through illness contracted on service in Portugal, Spain, Holland, and France". Was the "weakness" the result of shell-shock, or possibly an after-effect of disease contracted during his service abroad?

After his discharge, John resumed his occupation of cordwainer/bootmaker, living with his  wife and family in Westmister and producing four more children there by 1830.

In 1847, while John and Ann were apparently visiting one of their children in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, or possibly after they had moved back there to Ann's roots, Ann died, John being the informant on her death certificate. No further trace has been found of John: he has not been located in the 1851 or 1861 censuses, nor has his death been positively identified.

For many years I knew of John Benneworth as a cordwainer in Westminster, and it was only recently that I discovered, with immense pride, his former life in the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards and the activities of him and his colleagues in the Peninsula War and the Battle of Waterloo. I do not know whether he claimed his medals or, if so, where they now are, but I would dearly love to have sight of them and to photograph them. I would also very much like to know where he is buried and to be able to visit his (doubtless unmarked) grave.

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