Date added: 28 May 2015
James signed up on the 6th of October, 1810 aged 34 as Paymaster to the 2nd battalion and took part in the latter years of the Peninsular Campaign. He was awarded the Waterloo medal and General Service medal. He had clasps for Fuentes de Oñoro, Badajoz, and Salamanca. I clearly remember handling these as a young child, the names sounding quite exotic and seemingly quite unrelated to wars or battles mentioned in the 50's and 60's.
Regimental history relates a story in Spain when junior officers placed a sprig of gorse beneath his horse’s tail as he attempted to record pay in his ledger. The startled mare knocked the ink to the ground, chaos ensued, and his records had to be committed to memory and confirmed later once back in England. This history also relates he had previously been a lawyer before joining up, and was married with 2 young children.
Paymaster Williams remained on half pay and in 1826 his record indicates although his health had suffered in the Peninsular Campaign (life as a Paymaster was demanding with extensive waggon train travel to collect funds, (Divall C.,' Inside the Regiment' 2010)), any opportunities with the London Direction of the Waggon Train at Croydon would be gratefully undertaken.
This miniature is of Paymaster Williams' son James Edwin Williams (later Major General), who as an eleven and a half year old boy walked from Military College in Brussels to the battle field. Where scavenging he found the Field Marshal's baton on the field of Waterloo on the 19th June 1815. He kept it with him throughout his time with the East India Company in India and Ceylon and then the 1st Native Madras Infantry in India. The baton was in the family latterly with my grandmother until 1932 when it was stolen by her husband during a divorce. James Edwin's sister-in-law was married to the son of the Colonel John Skelton, Lieutenant Governor of St. Helena during Napoleon’s first year of incarceration.