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Corporal Richard Watts

Waterloo 200


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Submitted by: John Hynds

Date added: 21 May 2015

Brothers at Waterloo.

Richard and Robert 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. Corporal Richard Watts is recorded as being in the 6th troop and family history notes him suffering from hunger following the battle and coming across an upturned kitchen wagon. He bent down from his horse and speared a loaf of bread with his sword. However he then realised his sword was covered in blood so had to discard the loaf. Another family story my great aunt told was that Richard was one of a small band of Dragoons sent to catch Napoleon who escaped in his coach. They came across the empty coach by the roadside and he cut off a three inch tassel from the interior. She claimed to have seen it. I am sure there were many tales like this recorded by families. I do know that his wife was close by as she was “with the regiment” and their first child,William, was born in Paris. Post the battle the Regiment formed part of the army of occupation.

Both Richard (1786-1833) and Robert (1776-1853) 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. Richard enlisted in 1806 joining his brother who had already enlisted in 1800. (see Sergeant Robt. Watts 1st (orKings) Dragoon Guards for his background). Richard continued to serve with The 1st Kings Dragoon Guards, was promoted a number of times eventually becoming the Troop Sergeant Major in 1827. He had married an Irish girl, Mary Foster from Co. Kildare in 1833 and won a ballot for her to be with the Regiment. Following Waterloo the Regiment served in numerous locations as can be seen by the places of birth of their children. William 1815 Paris, Ann 1817 Fulford York, George 1819 Dundalk, John 1823 Crieff Scotland, Sarah 1827 Edinburgh, Mary 1830 Kilmaednagh, Ireland, Frederick 1832 Dublin. However Richard suddenly dies of Cholera in Brighton in 1833. He is buried in St. Peter’s Church. The grave stone is badly worn but it states Sacred to the memory of Richard Watts, lateTroop Sergeant Major in The 1st Kings Regiment of Dragoon Guards. He distinguished himself in the Battle of Waterloo. Died at Brighton Barracks on the 6th day of August 1833 aged 45. This stone was erected by brother non-commissioned officers as a testimony of their regard and esteem”.

The story doesn’t end there. His wife, Mary Watts and 7 children are sent by the Regiment to his place of birth, Leicester. The payment vouchers in the muster books of 1833 records "Amount of allowance paid to the widow and children of Troop Sergeant Major Watts from Brighton to London and onto Leicester £1-4s-9d". However, none of his family welcomed her even though she was pregnant with their 8th child Martha who was born in the spring of 1834. Mary attempts to provide for all her children by making gloves but times are hard and eventually she sends two of the boys back to the Regiment, as was her right, to be brought up by them. So George and John, aged 16 and 12 respectively, are sent to Manchester to enlist. Within a year they are both overseas serving in Canada. Whilst still a junior John learns to play musical instruments, including the trumpet.

John also rises through the ranks to Troop Sergeant Major and the muster books notes him as Trumpet Major and Bandmaster. He spends a brief period with the Military Train before retiring to Carnarvon in 1870 and where he serves with the Militia as a Bandmaster and is noted in one census as “Professor of Music”. He married a Catherine Lewis of Cahir, Tipperary in 1850 and they have eight children of whom only 3 reach adulthood. I am a direct descendant of his first child. Whilst I have no musical talent nor served with the forces I know that a descendant from his eldest child becomes a Lieutenant Colonel and Director of Music for the Army.

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