Date added: 23 Feb 2015
Ensign Ewart was born in 1769 on a farm near Elvanfoot, where the River Clyde rises. His birthplace is named as Bedoes or Biddles Farm, but may be Bidhouse Farm, in the hills to the southeast of Elvanfoot, beside Beattock summit on the West Coast Main Line railway. Family legend says Charles Ewart ran away three times to join the army. His horrified family bought him out. But when he left for the third time, aged twenty, he was let go and enlisted in the 2nd North British Dragoons – the Royal Scots Greys – at Kilmarnock. He served in the Low Countries during 1793-95 and was promoted Sergeant. In 1815, aged 45, he was the regiment’s fencing instructor. At Warterloo, Sergeant Ewart and the Scots Greys charged with the Union Cavalry Brigade to break up a French infantry attack. He captured the eagle standard of the French 45th Regiment. After the battle he was hailed as a hero and promoted Ensign. Ensign Charles Ewart died in Manchester in 1846. His grave was lost when the grounds of the disused chapel were taken over by a nearby timber yard. Rediscovered in the 1930’s, his remains were exhumed and reburied with honour on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in 1938.
My aunt Margaret (nee Ewart) attended the Edinburgh memorial dedication ceremony in April 1938 with her cousins David Shanks Ewart and Hugh James Ewart (all now deceased). The word descendants has been used rather loosely in later newspaper reports, including the report of that event which we have unearthed in The Scotsman 18 Apr 1938, page 7, which states “Descendants of Ensign Ewart came from various parts of the country, including Mr Hugh Ewart, Turriff, Aberdeenshire, and Mr David S Ewart, Glasgow. Seats were reserved for the family representatives in the enclosure.”
Aberdeen Journal - 5 April 1938 - throws more light on the relationship:
“... it is of interest to note that Dr H. J. Ewart, Schoolhouse, Forglen, Turriff, is a relative of Ensign Ewart, being a great-grandnephew. Dr Ewart’s grandparents were intimately acquainted with the Ensign in their youth. Dr Ewart has received an invitation from Lieut-Colonel C.H Gaisford-St-Lawrence to attend the unveiling of the memorial at Edinburgh on April 16.”
The men referred to above were Hugh James Ewart and his brother, David Shanks Ewart, my 2 nd cousins, once removed. Their father was James Ewart, whose parents were Archibald Ewart (c1821-1885) and Janet Gilchrist (the grandparents referred to in the article). Archibald was born in Crawford but there is no baptismal record; likewise his younger brother John Ewart (c.1825-1892), from whom I am descended. Their parents were Archibald Ewart and Jean MacDonald, and the implication is that Ensign Charles Ewart was Archibald’s brother. Archibald was baptised in Tweedsmuir in 1772, to parents John Ewart and Janet Henderson. Charles Ewart is widely reported as born 1769 in Elvanfoot. Tweedsmuir is only 24 miles from Elvanfoot by road (a lot closer as the crow flies).
My wife and I have done considerable research to try and find a baptism that would name his parents. Several different unverified parentages have been given in some family trees on www.ancestry.co.uk , which my wife has looked into and believes to be either incorrect or unverifiable. There were certainly other relatives around in 1938, (mentioned in other newspaper reports) including some descended perhaps from another brother David, but we do not think that anyone can prove a closer relationship to Ensign Ewart than their being a great-great-great-nephew, which it appears that I am.
Submitted by James Marshall