Date added: 10 Feb 2015
John Newton enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery at the age of seventeen in Wolsingham, Co. Durham 15 May1808 and served for 21 years and 243 days as a Private except for his last 300 days when he was promoted to Corporal and Bombardier. In 1815 like all the serving men at Waterloo he received a credit of two years extra service and the right to wear the Waterloo campaign medal. John was one of 80 Gunners in Lieutenant-Colonel Webber-Smith’s F Troop of nearly 170 men, operating a battery of 5 six pounders and one 5½ inch howitzer. He would have also received his share of the prize money, £2.11s.4d. Webber-Smith’s troop had been previously engaged in the Peninsular War, for which a General Service medal was issued retrospectively in 1847 but those qualified had to make application for it and three hundred miles from London and eighteen years after his retirement it is probable that John was not even aware of his entitlement.
In April 1822 two Justices of the Peace, on application by the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor in the parish of Ringmer in Sussex, issued an order under the Poor Relief Act of 1662 to remove Jane Newton, wife of John Newton a Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery, to her last legal place of settlement, Wolsingham, as she had become a charge upon the parish.
On 31 May 1829 John was discharged from the army on health grounds, “ that in consequence of being unfit for further service from Dysury and Stricture of the Neck of the Bladder and by order of the Master General He is hereby discharged upon a pension of one shilling per diem”.
To avoid any discharge certificate falling into the wrong hands and being misused each contained a description of the individual. John’s indicates that he would have been an obvious target on the battlefield as his height was 5 feet 11¾inches against an average for that time of about 5 feet six inches.
In 1851 he was living at 116 Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland as a Chelsea Out-Pensioner with his second wife Mary. John’s death was registered in Weardale in 1874 aged eighty-three years.
Submitted by Alan Peacock