This year is the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in which a Whitnash man’s great great grandfather fought.
William Lawton, who later lived in Warwick, served with the 15th Hussars at Waterloo and his descendant Derek Billings of Whitnash still has his sword.
Historian David Eason is researching the district’s “Battle of Waterloo” connections for this year’s bicentenary and has tracked the life of Warwick’s last connection.
After Waterloo, William and his regiment were also involved in the St Peter’s Field’s Massacre (Battle of Peterloo) in 1819.
William served with the 15th Hussars from June 1815 until 1837 when he left the regiment and moved to Warwick, where he married.
William also served for 14 years with the Warwickshire Yeomanry as well as being one of the ‘Brethren’ of Lord Leycester’s Hospital, a Chelsea (out) Pensioner and up until his death in 1866 the pay clerk for the district’s pensioners.
William was born in Salford, Manchester, in 1794 and was employed as a cask cutter until November 1813 when he enlisted into the 15th (King’s) Hussars.
During the Battle of Waterloo the 15th Hussars were heavily involved and continued the fight up until Napoleon’s “Old Guard” were routed.
But the regiment’s losses were heavy. In common with the rest of the army, each man of the 15th (King’s) Hussars eventually received a medal to commemorate the battle, and the regiment was granted the battle honour ‘Waterloo’. William returned home, and unknown to him his future wife Sarah was born in Warwick later that year.
He married Sarah at St Mary’s church, Warwick, in February 1839. At the time he was a sergeant in the Warwickshire Yeomanry and he and Sarah lived in Castle Street, Warwick. They had nine children born between 1839 and 1857.
William died on January 4 1866, aged 72, in Castle Street and was buried at St Paul’s churchyard with full military honours.
After William’s death, Sarah remained in Warwick where by 1881 she was living in Woodhouse Street, aged 64, employed as a sick nurse, most likely at the Warwick Cottage Hospital.
By 1901 Sarah had moved to Leamington. She passed away at home, aged 86, having never remarried. She was buried at the Leamington (Whitnash Road) Cemetery.
David Eason said: “With William’s passing, the town of Warwick lost its last connection to the “Battle of Waterloo.”