From Waterloo to St Peter’s church

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop

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Two plaques at the entrance to St Peter’s Catholic church in Leamington record the deaths of a Battle of Waterloo soldier and his wife.

Major Patrick (Peter) Bishop fought and was wounded during the Peninsular War and survived a terrible slaughter at Waterloo. He went on to command a penal colony in Australia. Leamington History Group member David Eason has researched his life.

Waterloo

Waterloo

Patrick’s company, 1st Battalion, 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot, paid a heavy price in the Battle of Waterloo, with 14 out of 39 officers, and nearly 200 men dead and wounded, out of 700 who took to the field.

A fellow soldier, QMG Harry Smith (6th Division) later wrote: “At Waterloo the whole field from right to left was a mass of dead bodies. The French Cuirassiers were literally piled on each other; many soldiers not wounded lying under their horses; others, fearfully wounded, occasionally with their horses struggling upon their wounded bodies.

“The sight was sickening. All over the field you saw officers, and as many soldiers as were permitted to leave the ranks, leaning and weeping over some dead or dying brother or comrade.”

After Waterloo, Patrick was stationed in Glasgow in 1817 before being sent to guard convicts in New South Wales, Australia for five years.

The battalion arrived there in early 1824 and in December Patrick was appointed commander of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. In January 1828 he was promoted to major and the regiment was ordered to India. Patrick retired from the Army on half-pay in June 1829, and in 1837 he was appointed K H.

By 1841 Patrick (55), after marrying his second wife Elizabeth Dormer (50) at Alton in Staffordshire in 1834, had moved to Leamington. They lived in Clarendon Square.

While in Leamington both Patrick and Elizabeth were members of the town’s first Catholic church of St Peter’s in George Street (now the Seventh Day Adventist church), which was largely financed by Patrick and Elizabeth and opened in 1828.

Patrick died on August 9 1846 and Elizabeth died on July 16 1859 at No 4 Euston Place (now Peter Clarke’s Estate Agents). They are both believed to have been buried in the same grave in St Peter’s churchyard. By 1864 Leamington had a new St Peter’s church in Dormer Place and today their individual brass memorial plaques are mounted within its entrance.