Jeremiah Brown is my great great grandfather. I too, have been trying to confirm his Waterloo status. His army record states that he enlisted in the 91st Regiment in 1829 at Armagh, County Tyrone (aged 18 years). He served in Jamaica and then joined the 22nd Regiment from 1 May 1835 until 20 May 1840. Following his discharge, he volunteered to join the Royal New Zealand Fencibles and arrived in Auckland in 1849 with his wife and two children. The Fencibles were sent to NZ to protect the new settlement of Auckland from Maori attack, and as a volunteer pensioner, he was entitled to land and a house. However, Jeremiah soon runs into trouble for publicly criticising his senior officers and appears not to receive his land grant. He turns up in Melbourne in the late 1880s performing at the Melbourne Cyclorama Waterloo exhibition. Jeremiah is a skilled raconteur and performed for the crowds at the Cylorama with his stories of Waterloo. He never wavers from his story - he was at Waterloo with the 6th Irish Dragoons, but was looking after the horses and was not directly involved in the fighting. He is also one of the first veterans at the Drysdale United Services Home near Geelong, Victoria.
Some people did not believe him - he was a tall, healthy man for his age. When his military record was checked, it confirmed that he enlisted in 1829. He is publicly defamed as a fraud (by a politician) and ends up back on the streets; is charged with vagrancy and sent to Geelong Gaol, where he died on 7 March 1894, aged 102 (still maintaining that he was a Waterloo veteran and 102 years old). The funny thing is that one newspaper story at the time claims that he had his papers to prove it! (no mention of a medal though). Also noted on his army record is the notation "J. b 1017. Major Gen Tulloch for increase as a Waterloo soldier & centenarian. A44 with true facts 16/5/92". Major General Tulloch,the military district commandant in the state of Victoria, was the man behind setting up the Drysdale Home for veterans.
The Waterloo Roll Call also contains the following statement - "Born at Enniskillen 14 March 1792. Fought at Waterloo and in the Kaffir, Sepoy and Maori wars. Living at Melbourne in 1891" (Waterloo Roll Call p269). How reliable is the Waterloo Roll Call? I have assumed that the reference to the Maori Wars was in fact his Fencible service.
Most people believed Jeremiah's story (including Major General Tulloch and Brown's family). Over 700,000 visitors to the Cyclorama over the four years that it operated must have been convinced.The only explanations I have are - that he lied about his age in 1829, so had to maintain that lie throughout his life; he has other military records, he stole the identity of Brown at some stage; or he was simply a fraud with considerable acting ability and historical knowledge. I hope this fills in some of the gaps to this mystery, but as always, it begs many more questions.
Last edited by jeremiah
on February 7th, 2013, 10:30 am, edited 2 times in total.