Edward Parry Waterloo Soldier?
In 1864 the Swansea newspaper The Cambrian, reported in its Births Marriages and Deaths column... Deaths. On the 20 Inst at Island Street, Llanelli, aged 90 Edward Parry, an old Waterloo Pensioner, late of Carmarthen. Edward Parry was born in the town of Carmarthen, circa 1780[b]. The town at that time was described by Wigstead and Rowlandson, two contemporary tourists, as being... [a]
a very handsome town, and the Ivy Bush, a large inn seemingly much frequented; it is, however a sort of Hobson's choice. The goal is a handsome stone building seemingly situated within the ancient walls of the castle. A stone bridge crosses the river Tivy (sic Towy): which is very narrow and inconvenient here. The people are seen on the banks of the river launching their coracles which they carry as Indians do their canoes on their backs from place to place. This kind of boat is made of light wood covered with a horse's hide; and each contains just one fisherman who with paddle guides the vehicle with wonderful dexterity through the most rapid passes. They use these in the salmon fishery, which is abundantly productive; salmon may be had for two pence per pound; what is not disposed as fresh at the market is salted and dried, and is to be found at the London shops as Welsh salmon. The people are very indolent, even in market days scarce a single article is exposed to sell or a shop open before nine or ten in the morning.[b] Also... The trade of the place is much facilitated by its fine river, which conveys ships of a good size up to the bridge. [c]It could be that in the summer of 1799, one of these ships enabled Edward Parry to sail out from Carmarthen in search of employment and adventure to join the British Army by signing on with the 46th Regiment of Foot* [d]. This was at a time when the British Army was at full stretch during the French Revolutionary War (1792-1802).
The regiment was garrisoned or based on the mainland in the following towns and cities; Doncaster, York, Henley, Warminster, Poole and Plymouth. They then sailed to Ireland where they garrisoned at Fermoy, Limerick and Cork until the regiment sailed aboard to the West Indies in 1805. Perhaps this was not the adventurous life that Edward Parry was seeking because by this time he had already left the regiment, for his records indicate that he ended his service with the 46th on the 24th December 1802. [d][e]
After a period of five years Edward was again attracted to serve his country for he travelled to Chichester where on the 21st August 1807, he signed up with the 1st Battalion, 90th Regiment of Foot. This regiment followed in the heels of the 46th and was posted to the exotic isles of the West Indies. Here the Battalion served in the islands for several years assisting in the capture of Martinique (1809) and Guadaloupe (1810). This was an amphibious operation carried out in conjunction with the Royal Navy.
A brief account of the capture of Martinique can be gleaned from the records of the 90th Regiment of Foot...
On the 28th of January, the army, formed in two divisions, commanded respectively by Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost and Major-General Maitland, sailed from Carlisle Bay and landed on the Island of Martinique on the 30th. The first division, consisting of between six and seven thousand men, landed at Bay Robert on the windward coast, without opposition, and, notwithstanding the difficulties of the country, occupied a position on the banks of the Grande Lezard River before daybreak on the 31st. The second division, in which was the 90th Regiment, disembarked near St. Luce and Point Solomon, on the morning of the 30th, meeting with no resistance, and marched at once to Anse Ceron, and on the following day to Riviere Sallee. On the 2nd of February, the division moved to Lamantin, where the main body of the enemy's militia was overtaken, and where it surrendered, the men agreeing to disperse and return to their plantations. From Lamantin, General Maitland advanced, on the 3rd, to within gun-shot of Fort Dessaix. Batteries were at once constructed, and opened fire that night on Pigeon Island, which surrendered on the 4th. On the 5th, the troops marched to La Coste, and, uniting with the first division, completed the investment of Fort Royal on the west side. [f]In a letter from their commander, Major General Frederick Maitland the conduct of the troops was described as follows...
I have every reason to be highly satisfied with the troops I have the honour to command; neither officers nor soldiers have failed in exertion, and in bearing the great fatigues of the march with exemplary fortitude. (8th February1809 Camp la Coste). [f]For his service in the capture of Martinique, Edward Parry was awarded the Peninsular Medal. [g]
On the 5th May 1814 the 90th embarked from the Caribbean Islands having being despatched to the much colder climes of North America and Canada. It was catching up with the “War of 1812”. Arriving at Quebec on the 20th June the regiment marched on to Montreal and Kingston where it stayed for three months. It then headed for Upper Canada and Fort George crossing the border into the United States to occupy Fort Niagara which it held until 22nd May 1815.
On the cessation of hostilities with the United States, the regiment was sent back to Britain and following an uneventful voyage, it arrived at Spithead on the 3rd of August 1815, almost two months after the allied victory at The Battle of Waterloo. However, it was immediately sent to Ostend and France to form part of the 'army of occupation' where it remained for almost a year. It returned to Plymouth on 30th June 1816. [h][i]
By October 1816, Private Edward Parry was considered a sick man. At the age of 36 he was discharged from the regiment on the 30th of that month, listing him as a Chelsea Pensioner suffering from Scrofula and a wounded thigh. He was described as being five feet five and a half inches tall with light brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He signed out of the army with his 'mark' - a cross[d] [e]
Two years later we find Edward Parry back in his home town, for he was marrying the spinster Ann Rogers in St Peter's Church, Carmarthen. There he remained for many years living in Priory Street, listed as a Pensioner 90th Regiment of Foot – Chelsea Pens. In 1851 his home shared with his wife Ann, and his two nieces, Elvira and Anne Francis. [k]
Although Edward Parry's obituary states he was an old Waterloo Pensioner, no evidence to date, can be found to support this statement or that he had received the Waterloo Medal. It is possible that the 'Peninsular Medal' he received for his action in Martinique and the fact that he had served in France at the end of the Napoleonic war mistakenly led his family to believe that he was a Waterloo Veteran and it was duly reported as such. [g]
Notes and Citations
Our thanks to Hugo White of Cornwall's Regimental Museum.
Old Island House Photograph c1968 - Neville Tonge
[a] Cambrian 24 June 1864 p8
[b] Carmarthenshire Notes Ed A Mee Vol I p 131
[c] A Tour of Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire JT Barber 1803 Chap 3
[d] Attestation papers
[e] Hugo White, Cornwall Regiment Museum
[f] The Records of the 90th Regiment by Alex M Delavoye (1880) P65 & 66
[g] UK Medal Award 90th Foot 31794_221383-00200 (The Military General Service Medal)
[h] 90th Foot Extract from National Army Museum
[i] The Records of the 90th Regiment by Alex M Delavoye (1880) P79,80,81
[k] 1841, 1851 Census
[l] Slater's Directory – South Wales 1858 Llanelly Shopkeepers etc p78 & 1861 Census
[e] 40941_311894-00586 Chel Pen 90th Foot
*The 46th (South Devonshire) Regiment amalgamated with the 32nd (Cornwall) Light Infantry to form the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in 1881.
Click here for further reading: Llanelli and the Battle of Waterloo