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Serjeant Robert Watts

Waterloo 200


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Submitted by: John Hynds

Date added: 22 May 2015

Brothers at Waterloo.

Robert and Richard Watts both served with The 1st Kings Dragoon Guards and fought at the Battle of Waterloo playing a part in the charges of the Household Cavalry Brigade led by the Earl of Uxbridge. Robert was promoted to sergeant on the 19th June 1815 as so many of the Regiment had either been killed or wounded during the battle. It is thought that by the end of the day less than 30 troopers out of a Regiment of circa 550 were still mounted and capable of fighting.

Both Robert (1776-1856) and Richard (1786-1833) were born in Halstead, Leicestershire to Sarah nee’ Adcock and John Watts. They had two older brothers John and William, one of whom is believed to have died at the Battle of Corunna, and two older sisters. Robert enlisted 30th Sep 1800 at Northampton and his younger brother Richard joined him in 1806. (see Corporal Richard Watts 1st (or Kings) Dragoon Guards for his information).

Family tradition suggests 2 of the Watts boys ran away from home to join the Army.

In the absconders records for Leicestershire the following can be found: “Saturday 4th Dec 1779. "ABSENT himself from his service with John Bates of Billsdon, Carrier, on Sunday 28th Nov. last JOHN WATTS, a youth about 15 years old, ruddy complexion, had a brown coat and waistcoat with a red and white linen handkerchief round his neck, leather breeches, speckled stockings with plated buckle. Any persons having seen such a youth is desired to give notice to his father JOHN WATTS of Halstead Nr. Tilton in Leicestershire or if he will immediately return all things will be made easy to him and it will afford great satisfaction to his disconsolate parents." What happens to John is unknown but the distress of his father is clear to see.

And then in the same absconder’s source the following appeared in the Leicester Journal 7th Oct 1790. "Robert Watts app. to Thomas Leicester of Long Wotton Frame Work Knitter had on him when he went away a London smoke coloured coat, velvet waistcoat and a pair of old leather breeches. The said Robert Watts stands 5ft 6" high and brown flank hair. Whoever will inform in the said matter where he may be found shall be handsomely rewarded and whoever harbours or employs him after this notice will be prosecuted as the law directs". This second absconder may relate to Robert. He is noted in the army records as a Frame Work Knitter with brown hair but the ages etc. don’t exactly match. He would have been 15 at the time and possibly hid his actual age. His Army records consistently note him 2 years younger than other civil documentation. In the same newspaper the following notice appears "Kings Dragoon Gds advertisingfor clever young men over 5ft 9" tall". His height may have precluded his enlistment at this time, but it is interesting to note that when he retired from the Regiment he was 1 inch short of this requirement.

What is known from the muster books is that Robert previously served with the Rutland Fencibles, a form of mounted Yeomanry. However he was forced to retire in 1817 due to poor eye sight and he returned to Leicester where he married Ann Robinson in 1822 and had six children; Richard1825, George 1827, James 1832, Louisa 1835, Ann 1837, Jemima 1838. He works as a Frame Work Knitter living at 63, Metcalf Street, Leicester receiving an army pension of 1/- a week until his death in 1856. He is buried in Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester.

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