12 January 2016

Waterloo Veterans (Battle of Waterloo 18 June 1815)

Judy Middleton 2015 (revised 2018)

William Kerr (1779-1854) - Portslade

  copyright © J.Middleton
William Kerr’s tombstone.

The tombstone of William Kerr is to be found in the churchyard of St Nicolas, Portslade on the east side and facing the path. Kerr must have been well thought of in the village and people were proud to have such a fine old soldier in their midst. The proof of this is the fulsome inscription that was so well executed it is still fully legible although the same cannot be said for many ‘younger’ tombstone inscriptions.

No doubt the vicar of St Nicolas, Revd Henry Hoper, knew Kerr well. Indeed Hoper became vicar of Portslade in 1815, the very year of Waterloo, having been presented to the living by George III. Hoper took an interest in antiquities, both factual and in the folklore memories of local people. He contributed an article to the very first edition of Sussex Archaeological Collections concerning the mediaeval wall paintings inside St Nicolas Church. It seemed the old remedies, such as resorting to a tree with healing properties on the Downs, still held sway in the village. Hoper probably had a difficult time trying to lead his flock away from such superstitions. It must have been the Revd Hoper who conducted Kerr’s funeral and approved the inscription.   
  copyright © J.Middleton
St Nicolas Church, Portslade.

'Fight the good fight, lay hold on eternal life. In memory of William Kerr who died March 25th 1854 aged 75. William Kerr was for 18 years a Private in the 12th Light Dragoons and served in Egypt, Spain and Flanders under Abercrombie and Wellington. He was present at the Battles of Alexandria, Salamanca, Vittoria and Waterloo. He resided 36 years in this parish and was remarkable during the latter part of his life for his gentleness of disposition and general good conduct. He died hoping and praying for mercy in the name of his Redeemer.'

It seems quite rare for an ordinary foot soldier to have such an impressive tombstone with its fascinating biographical details. The officer class is well represented with large tombs and it would be interesting to know just how many memorials there are to the ordinary soldiers who fought at Waterloo. Incidentally, the Duke of Wellington had rather a low opinion of them. But then Waterloo was a very ‘close run’ thing. Kerr must have been a doughty soul to survive a soldiering life of eighteen years. It is often said that a soldier in times past was more likely to be carried off by disease rather than by bullet or bayonet.

William Kerr was wounded early on in his military career when he was still in his twenties. In March 1801 he received a wound in his left thigh but it cannot have caused him much trouble because it was not even mentioned in 1819 when he received his discharge papers.

It is interesting to note that two medals in very good condition awarded to William Kerr of the 12th Light Dragoons were auctioned in December 2012 for £3,100. What a pity they were not acquired for local display.

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Campbell (1777-1850) - Hove

  copyright © J.Middleton
St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. The wall of the south aisle can be seen in this photograph.

For those people interested in great British battles, it is interesting to note that St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove displays two tablets inside the church that mention the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The former battle is remembered in the memorial in the north aisle to the celebrated Admiral Sir George Augustus Westphal who was the last surviving officer from Trafalgar; the latter memorial in the south aisle is to Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Campbell who fought at Waterloo.

‘To the memory of a father and a brother. To Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Campbell C.B. who served throughout the Peninsular War and at Waterloo with the 52nd Light Infantry and died on 3rd May 1850 aged 73.’

His son Colonel George Campbell was responsible for erecting the tablet on which his brother is also remembered. They certainly were a martial family. Colonel Campbell’s brother, Colonel Robert Parker Campbell, served with the 73rd Regiment in the Kaffir War of 1850-1853, commanded the 90th Light Infantry in the Crimea and during the mutinies in India. He died on 11 November 1857 of wounds received at the Relief of Lucknow aged 40 years.

Sir Edward Kerrison (1776-1853) - Hove

He was born on 1 August 1776 in a property later called Oakley Park, Suffolk. Although he lived at Hove for many years, he kept up his ties with Suffolk.

He followed a military career joining the colours in 1796 as a cornet in the 6th Dragoon Guards. In 1798 he was promoted to the rank of captain and later transferred to the 7th Hussars. He served as one of Wellington’s officers during the Peninsular War and at the Battle of Waterloo. Honours followed quickly on his return from the battlefield and he was knighted in June 1815 and in 1821 he was created a baronet

On 20 October 1813 he married Mary Martha Ellice from Fifeshire and by 1818 the couple were settled at Wick House, Hove, where they continued to live until 1825. Their son Edward Clarence Kerrison was born at Wick House on 2 January 1821 and baptised at St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove on 17 March 1821.

The year 1822 was a dreadful one for the Kerrisons because their two small daughters died within six days of each other and were buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard. They were Mary Adelaide Maynard Kerrison who died on 25 June 1822 aged five years and Ann Kerrison who died on 25 June 1822 aged four years.

In 1825 the Kerrisons moved to 27 Brunswick Terrace, Hove, which he continued to own until his death. But the Kerrisons were not always resident there and sometimes leased the property to society figures for the season.

 copyright © J.Middleton
General Kerrison lived at Brunswick Terrace overlooking Hove Lawns and the sea.

As well as his military career, Kerrison was also a politician who served as a Member of Parliament from 1812 to 1853, representing Eyre, Suffolk for longest from 1820 to 1852.

Kerrison’s second wife was the second daughter of the third Earl and Countess of Ilchester but they did not have children.

Kerrison did not emerge from the Battle of Waterloo unscathed and sustained a leg wound, which troubled him so much that he was obliged to retire from the Army. But still the honours came his way; in 1830 he was promoted from Major General to Colonel of the Light Dragoons and in 1851 he became General.

  copyright © J.Middleton
The Iron Duke, Waterloo Street, was called the Kerrison Arms when it was built.

Perhaps it was in Kerrison’s honour that Waterloo Street in Hove was thus named. The hotel in the same street was certainly named after him because it was called the Kerrison Arms and it was where the Brunswick Square Commissioners used to hold their meetings. The building is still in existence although its name has been changed to the Iron Duke, thus honouring the Duke of Wellington, rather than our local hero General Kerrison.

Kerrison also had a town house in Great Stanhope Street and that is where he died in 1853.

John Partridge (1793-1863) - Brighton

 copyright © J.Middleton
Captain Partridge’s tombstone inscription.
John Patridge was already a hardened veteran, having campaigned in the Peninsular War before he arrived at st (or) Royal Dragoons. He was thus part of the Union Brigade and found himself in distinguished military company because the other units were Scots Greys and Inniskillin Dragoon Guards. But the 1stDragoons won laurels for themselves by capturing an eagle standard from the French 105th Infantry Regiment. 
the Battle of Waterloo. At the latter memorable battle he served under Sir Thomas Picton as a Private in the 1st

When he returned home Partridge was awarded a Silver Medal for Merit. This beautifully preserved medal is to be found in the National Army Museum. The battle honours ‘Peninsula’ and ‘Waterloo’ appear in the arms of the cross.

Captain Partridge was buried at Brighton.

Lieutenant General James Webber Smith (1778-1853) - Hove

James Webber Smith was another battle-hardened veteran before he came to Waterloo. He was present at the capture of Minorca 1798 and the siege of Malta in 1800. He was part of the expedition to Walcheren and he was present at the siege of Flushing. He joined Wellington’s campaign in the Peninsular War where the battle honours continued to accumulate – Vittoria, the passage of the Bidassoa and Nive and the siege of St Sebastian.  

At the Battle of Waterloo Webber Smith commanded F Troop Horse Brigade.

He ended his military career with two medals and eight clasps; these included a gold medal with one clasp for Vittoria and St Sebastian and a silver medal with two clasps for Nivelle and Nive.

Like many veterans Webber Smith retired to Hove and he lived at 11 Brunswick Square. The 1851 census recorded him living at this address with his wife, a visitor, and seven servants (four female and three male).

 copyright © J.Middleton
Lieutenant General Webber Smith lived at 11 Brunswick Square. In the photograph the blue plaques mark numbers 2 and 4 and number 11 is further up the square.

In 1853 Webber Smith died in this house in his 75thyear and his obituary stated he was Colonel commanding the 7thBattalion Royal Artillery. He was buried in the churchyard belonging to St Andrew’s Old Church, Hove. His last resting place remains intact in a small oasis of calm under mature trees although today it is just a stone’s throw from Tesco’s. It is indeed fortunate the tomb is still there because some of the graveyard has been destroyed for re-development.

 copyright © J.Middleton
Lieutenant General Webber Smith’s tomb is in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Old Church.

On 18 June 2015 there was a touching service in St Andrew’s Old Church to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Members of the Royal Regiment of Artillery attended to honour James Webber Smith who was once Director General of Artillery. They laid wreaths composed of laurel leaves (for victory) and red roses.  


Encyclopaedia of Hove and Portslade
Internet searches
Portslade Local April 2018

Copyright © J.Middleton 2015
page layout by D.Sharp