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Medal of Hon. John Massy

Waterloo 200
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Artefact researched by: Nicola Whittaker

Date added: 30 Jun 2015

The Waterloo medals were given to 36,000 men over all ranks taking part at the battles of Ligny, Quatre-Bras and Waterloo in 1815. This was the first medal to be impressed mechanically with the recipient’s name, using a modified coin machine.

Contrary to popular opinion, these medals were not initially automatically awarded posthumously to next of kin. A request could be made by the family of those fatally wounded to the Horse Guards; if they deemed it appropriate, the family would be granted an unassigned medal from the Royal Mint. Likewise, medals of those who did not survive were returned to the Mint by the relevant regiment. The value of each Waterloo Medal is often directly linked to the level of action each recipient’s regiment saw during battle, with the majority of recipients present at either or both the battles of Quatre-Bras and Waterloo, although a single known recipient was acting as an observer with the Prussians at Ligny.

The particular medal featured belonged to Cornet The Hon. John Massy of the 1st Royal Dragoons.

A similar Waterloo medal was awarded to Private Archibald Clark, who enlisted in 1807 at the age of 21 with the 92nd regiment of Highland Infantry. The regiment, later known as the Gordon Highlanders, saw some of the bloodiest action, although Clark himself was injured at Quatre Bras and was unable to fight two days later at the Battle of Waterloo, from being shot with a musket ball through the right knee.

Another awarded to Daniel Finch of the Second Battalion Coldstream Guards. This medal displayed a replacement silver suspension rather than the original steel example. This modification was common as the original suspension wore and rusted over time, with servicemen finding that it spoilt their uniforms. This detail, along with the fairly heavy wear to the medal itself, perhaps suggests a long serving recipient.

There are cast replicas from the nineteenth century, believed to have been commissioned not long after the original issue of authentic medals.  One replica was named for a Private William Cooper, of the 69th Foot, Second Battalion, who was recorded as being entitled to the Waterloo medal according to the official medal roll. The early date of the replica perhaps suggests that the original was sold, lost or pawned shortly after its issue.

Hon. John Massy | Personal Life:

Born 4th June, 1795 to Margaret Everina Barton and Hugh Massy, 3rd Baron Massy of Duntrileague, Ireland. He married Elizabeth Homewood on 12th April 1828 and had four children; Richard Hugh Stephen, William Augustus, Dawson Dunbar and Grace Elizabeth Elinor. Grace married Colonel Robert Thomas Thompson and they had a daughter, Anne Emma Fetherstonhaugh Thompson who went onto marry Lieutenant-Commander Hugh Hamon George William Carruthers Massy, her second cousin. The Massy name continued in their children, Narcissa Catherine (b. 12th January 1910) and Major Hugh Carruthers Massy (b. 25th October 1914, d. 1987). Lt-Col. Hon. John Massy died on 7th March 1848 at the age of 52.

Career in Military | Battle of Waterloo 

The Hon. John Massy joined the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards which then was known as 1st Dragoon Guards as a Cornet on 13th March 1814. He served under Captain Henry Rt. Carden in B (or No. 3) Troop at the Battle of Waterloo and was awarded the Waterloo Medal for his participation in the campaign. Massy was promoted to Lieutenant on 23rd November 1815 following Waterloo and rose to the rank of Captain on 28th November 1822. He went on the half pay list from 1926 and was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel on the birth of the Prince of Wales on 23rd November 1841.

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