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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Jeremiah Wharam (11th L.D.) & Richard Wharam (Scots' Greys)

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Jeremiah Wharam (11th L.D.) & Richard Wharam (Scots' Greys)

Postby EdBarker » November 4th, 2016, 2:49 pm

Browsing the Waterloo Muster Roll (W100/14) on the Ancestry web site some years ago I came across the names of two men (first cousins) who faced the French that momentous day. They were members of the Wharam family of Clayton West in West Yorkshire. The parish registers relating to All Saints High Hoyland records the births, deaths, and marriages of several generations of the family. I am sure that we all have relatives who took part in many of the significant events in British history, but they can prove difficult to trace. A fairly uncommon surname has helped me tremendously.

Both men had joined the cavalry. The first to join up was Jeremiah Wharam the illegitimate son of Hannah Wharam. My cousin, six times removed. He was baptized at High Hoyland on the 1st January 1783. Jeremiah joined the 11th Light Dragoons (11th LD) on the 13th September 1801 (WO25/871 - 1120 Service Returns No.1). The 11th LD predominantly recruited in southern England but I understand from secondary sources that they had eight troops; I assume therefore the entire regiment, stationed in York at the time of Jeremiah’s enlistment.

After Jeremiah joined the 11th LD it spent several years on ‘home service’, including three years in southern Ireland. This was to change when the regiment embarked for the peninsular in April 1811, landing in Portugal and joining Wellington’s army near Badajoz, Spain. In addition to several minor engagements, the regiment fought at the action of El Boden on 25 September 1811, at the battle of Salamanca on 22nd July 1812, and formed part of the rear guard during the retreat from Burgos in September of the same year, as a result of which I have read that the regiment lost 417 men & 555 horses out of an initial compliment of 723. After spending the winter months in Portugal the regiment, much reduced, were ordered home, leaving Lisbon in May without horses.

On 26th February 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba on board the ‘Inconstant’. As a result, an alliance of all the major European nations mobilised in order to stop him. Therefore, in March 1815, six troops (three squadrons) of the 11th LD moved from Canterbury to Ramsgate where they embarked for Ostend. They were to form part of the 4th British Cavalry Brigade of the Anglo-Allied Army under Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, along with the 12th and 16th Light Dragoons, under Major-General Sir John Vandeleur.

Following the French invasion of Belgium on 15th June, the 11th LD was one of ten regiments covering the Anglo-Allied Army withdrawal north, harried by the French, following the stalemate at Quatre Bras, toward its’ final positions along the Mont St Jean ridge, south of Waterloo on the Brussels road.

The 4th Cavalry Brigade was initially placed close to the extreme left of the Anglo-Allied position prior to the opening of the battle, but then moved toward the centre of the line where the 12th and the 16th moved forward to support the withdrawal of the Scots Greys after their famous charge. The 11th LD was held in reserve during this action. Later in the day after the Prussians had joined the Anglo Allied army from the direction of Wavre, the brigade moved to the other side of the Brussels road in order to support the infantry brigade of General Chasse’s Dutch-Belgian division. In the general advance following the retreat of the Imperial Guard, the brigade moved forward and the 11th LD is said to have captured the last operational battery of French cannon which had kept up its’ fire on the French left wing.

The 4th cavalry brigade formed part of the army of occupation after the French surrender, the 11th LD eventually returning to England in November 1818 to learn that it was to be posted to India.

The regiment set sail for Calcutta from Gravesend on 7th February 1819 aboard two Indiamen, the Streatham and the Atlas. I was never to find Jeremiah in Civvie Street. I eventually discovered that he was buried in Cawnpore, Bengal India on 26th June 1820.
George Farmer, a member of the regiment at the time, stated that there had been a terrible cholera outbreak. My own research would indicate that of the 126 members of the regiment who were buried in Cawnpore between October 1819 and September 1820, forty-one were ‘Waterloo Men’. The irony is that George Farmer noted that, “When the sickness broke out our men became divided into two classes, one of which the thought of the precariousness of their position sobered, while the other it produced diametrically the opposite effect. These last in order to drown care, drank hard and lived merrily; and strange as it may sound, that of these nine out of ten escaped”. George Farmer admitted that he never drank harder in his entire life than he did at that time, and he survived. Looking back I think that it is obvious that the sober lads, I assume Jeremiah included, continued to drink the contaminated (unboiled) water and died, whereas the heavy drinkers consumed water that had been treated as part of the brewing/distilling process and largely survived the cholera epidemic.

The second relative to join up was Richard Wharam, baptized 30th June 1793 at All Saints High Hoyland, the son of William Wharam and Mary Charlesworth of Clayton West. My great uncle five times removed. Richard joined the 2nd Royal (North British) Dragoons (Scots Greys) on the 3rd December 1812 (WO25/871 - 1120 Service Returns No.1). I had wondered what a Huddersfield man was doing joining a Scots regiment that recruited predominantly in the Glasgow area. Reading the excellent ‘Liberty or Death’ by Alan Brooke & Lesley Kipling last year, I was interested to learn that elements of the Scots Greys were stationed in the Huddersfield area at this time, during the very period I would regard as the height of the Luddite insurrection.

The Scots Greys did not serve in the Peninsular. They spent their time on what was known as ‘home service’ carrying out ‘Policing actions’ in places such as Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Ireland. It is probably an exaggeration but I have read that there were more British troops stationed in the areas affected by the Luddite insurrection such as what is now Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, and the like, than had initially set sail for the Peninsular in 1808.

By the time of the Battle of Waterloo, the Scots Greys formed part of the 2nd British (Union) Brigade along with the 1st (Royal) Dragoons and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons under Major-General Hon. Sir William Ponsonby. Richard Wharam was a member of Capt. Robert Vernor’s Troop (Troop No. 5) the same Troop as Sergeant Charles Ewart.
The famous action of the Greys and Charles Ewart in particular during the battle is well documented and because the regiment had been decimated, it returned to Britain.

Although Richard appears on the Muster Roll (WO 100/14) for the 18th June, he does not appear on the PDF version of the Medal Roll (MINT 16/112) that I down loaded from the national archive some time ago because several pages are missing, but he does appear in the complete original.

Richard survived the battle. Discharged in 1822, he had spent 10 years in the regiment. A blacksmith by trade, he returned home to his wife Mary (nee Field), whom he had married just prior to joining the regiment in 1812. Richard lived in Gawber, Barnsley where he raised a family. Stuart Mellor (in his excellent work entitled Greys’ Ghosts), states that Richard made a late military pension claim in 1871 receiving 9d per day. Richard died aged 80 in March 1873 and was buried at High Hoyland, the place of his baptism.

Interestingly, the Barnsley Chronicle of Saturday March 31st 1906 in the local history column detailed several local (Barnsley) men who had been present (survived) the Waterloo campaign. Although inaccurately dating the battle as having taken place on the 18th of July, it did provide some tantalizing detail of Richard’s experience. The newspaper reported that. ‘Richard Wharam was a blacksmith’s apprentice at Gawber but getting into difficulties enlisted in the Scots’ Greys in 1812. Present at Quatre Bras and with his regiment in the memorable charge of the Union Brigade, his adventures on that day were exciting for he had three horses shot under him. Upon his discharge in 1822 he returned to Gawber and worked at Thorpe’s Pit for many years’. Richard can be found in subsequent census returns up until his death.

Interestingly, Stuart Mellor lists a Private John Senior in Fenton’s Troop (Scots’ Greys) who was killed in action at Waterloo. Stuart notes that John Senior was also a Blacksmith by trade and was born in Emley. Emley is but half a mile as the crow flies from where Richard was born in Clayton West. I wonder if they were both apprentices at Gawber and joined the Greys together.

I think that I have come as far as I can with Jeremiah and Richard through secondary sources and need to get myself down to the National Archives. I think my focus will have to be on the 11th LD in the Peninsular and whether Jeremiah did indeed serve with the regiment there.
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Re: Jeremiah Wharam (11th L.D.) & Richard Wharam (Scots' Gre

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » November 4th, 2016, 8:01 pm

What an interesting account Ed. I hope you'll let us know if you find anything more in the Archives.

Sarah
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