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Culmstock's Waterloo men


Family Tree reader Margaret Bromwich kindly provided us with a selection of mini biographies of the men from the Somerset village of Culmstock who served at Waterloo. With the bicentenary of this famous battle nearly upon us now seems a very good time to share them. If you spot an ancestor among them, we'd love to hear - please email helen@family-tree.co.uk. Margaret has written more about her discoveries on the letters' pages of the June issue of Family Tree.

The mini biographies were composed by Sergeant William Doble DCM, who from 1905 to 1907 composed articles for The Tiverton Gazette detailing snippets he had painstakingly collected about Culmstock’s history. The information he gave was unique – only in personal reminiscences would such stuff be found. Here are the details for the Waterloo Culmstockians...

On Sunday 18 June 1815 at least 20 Culmstockians were congregated at the village of Waterloo (now in Belgium, but then ruled by the Dutch, Belgium was created in 1830).  These 20 returned and were treated with pride in the village: no mention is made of anyone killed.  It is hoped the regimental details match the right man of that name.

PRIVATE THOMAS ANDREWS of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Foot, 1st Battalion, No 4871, in Captain S Streton’s Company. He wore a medal and may be the mason of that name living in Millmoor aged 60 in 1841.

ARMY-SURGEON DR AARON MOORE AYSHFORD, born 1781, lived at Woodhayne, Silver Street, and said he had three sources of income, his pension, his practice and his property.  He had been an Ensign in HM 53rd Regiment.  Whilst under a hedge spying on the French preparing for battle, he was struck in the leg by a cannonball and was haunted ever after by the saying 'Ayshford Paid for Peeping'.  He kept a pack of harriers. He was a friend of the Temple of Axon Farm and was said to have supported Frederick through Oxford University. He married first on 22 January 1801 a lady called Charlotte Nott: and as a widower married Elizabeth Letitia Radford on 17 August 1830.  Lived at least until he was 60 years of age.

PRIVATE WILLIAM BERRY who wore a medal with five clasps, having fought in 18 battles. He was a journeyman-shoemaker and a great storyteller.  One of his stories was of how he had captured a mule with a sack of doubloons in the Peninsula Wars, but had gone into an inn for a drink and a Spaniard had stolen his booty left outside.

SERGEANT WILLIAM DOBLE of the 32nd (The Cornwall) Foot: Crowe’s Company.  Veteran of seven Peninsula Wars (1808-1814).  Could wear two medals and nine clasps, and had a pension of 12 shillings a week.  He had been a parish apprentice at the age of seven, and much later foreman of Culmstock’s (fleeting) silk factory. He was greatly respected and many soldiers from far and near attended his funeral.  (He is Mr Brian Clist of Hemyock’s great-great-grandfather - Brian was a great help to Margaret).

RICHARD FRY  This may be the yeoman who lived somewhere in Woodgate in 1841 aged 72 though he seems to be too old.

WILLIAM GILLARD. There were Gillards living at Hillmoor in 1841.

SERGEANT GREGORY This might be William Gregory who in 1841 was an agricultural labourer living at Nicholashayne aged 66 – though he’d be quite old at Waterloo.

PRIVATE JOHN JORDAN of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Foot, 1st Battalion, Captain S Streton’s Company, No 4872.  He appears in the medal list. There are two Johns at Prescott.

ABRAHAM LAKE  This is probably the agricultural labourer aged 54 in 1841.

SERGEANT JAMES MAPALEDOREHAM (abbreviated by the villagers to Maldrom) of the 40th Foot.  This is Mr Brian Clist of Hemyock’s great-great-great-grandfather.  His wife Betsy (also known as Betty Meldrum) always accompanied him to the wars, probably as a cook in the camp kitchens. This Elizabeth Mapledoram in old age lived bedridden in a little cottage which stood in the garden outside the lower church gate. She is supposed to be mentioned on page 101 of ‘Lorna Doone’.  Also their soldier son James was there.  It seems James was married to Grace who escorted her husband when he drew his pension making sure she secured a substantial portion. He was not allowed to go to the pub. I believe they lived very near Bowhayes Farm.

Betty Milton who also went along to the Peninsula Wars.  This may be the Elizabeth Milton aged 60 in 1841 who lived at Northend.

JOHN NETHERCOTT.  This may be the agricultural labourer aged 46 in 1841 who lived somewhere in Northend.  His descendents still possess his sword said to have been used at the battle.

Ex marine PRIVATE JOSEPH (?) ‘URCHARD’ PENNY of the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Foot, 1st Battalion, No 4873, Captain C Ellis’s Company, who appears in the medal list.  Known as ‘Tenpenny Dick’ because he would never accept more than 10d as his day’s wage.  The mourners at his funeral observed his coffin was lowered into a pool of water which they considered most appropriate.

THOMAS SCADDING  This is probably the agricultural labourer who lived in High Street, Town in 1841 age 50.

WILLIAM SHEERS  There were three generations of this name at least, but this probably the one aged 49 in 1841 who was a grocer in Hillmoor. Certainly, this one was a member of Smallbrook Chapel, became a shopkeeper in Hillmoor, wore a beard and suffered in old age from ‘cardiac asthma’.

Ex marine JOHN TAPSCOTT who was at the Battle of Trafalgar and, therefore, had the nicknames ‘John Glory’ and ‘Blue-My-Shirt’.  He may be the one living in Hillmoor in 1841 aged 66.

CAPTAIN WILLIAMS, friend of Dr Ayshford who had saved his life by treating a gunshot wound to his head. It is thought he had settled in Culmstock after the battle.

ROBERT WOOD known as ‘Robin’ who sold his battle memoirs for a 1d a copy. None seem to have survived. This might be the Robert Wood whose banns of marriage were called in Culmstock on 20 October 1793 and on 5 June 1814; the marriages were to take place elsewhere.

My thanks to Sergeant William Doble, DCM, (1871-1927); Frederick John Snell, MA, (1862-1935); David Langrick Milner of Weston-super-Mare; and the 1841 Census for the facts for this article.

We are told that a Culmstock poet wrote a verse after Waterloo …

‘When war was ended, peace declared,

With grateful celebration.

When in the street the feast was shared   (FORE STREET)

By all of every station.

The Napoleonic Wars pensioners were paid quarterly in Wellington town over the border in Somerset.  Their favourite inn was The Britannia in the Millmoor area.





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