Sunday, 22 May 2011

The President Goes Over The Hills And Far Away

When President Obama visits Her Majesty, there may be an exchange of gifts. My suggestion for Her Majesty is that she might consider giving The President a bust of the Duke of Wellington to replace the one of her old friend, Sir Winston Churchill that the President had removed from the Oval Office.

Also, one that would be fitting along the same lines would be a boxed set of all the “Sharpe” series that appeared on TV. Perhaps some time might be set aside for them to watch together one or two of the better ones accompanied by a few slugs of choice Tullamore Dew. Sharpe and his men in the films are from the 95th Rifles (see below) and the series are largely about The Peninsular War and Waterloo.

The President has Irish ancestry in the maternal line going back to male Kearney’s whose marriages in the period of the late 18th and 19th Century included a Donovan and a Holloway. Irish Origins dot com has a table. It is possible that the Holloway might be of English origin.

So I had a look at the indexes. On the Trafalgar Roll there four Holloway’s listed, all from England and nor do the Waterloo and Army listings yield any of that name that might be possible. in Ireland.

But for the Donovan’s at Trafalgar there are sixteen Irish names listed of whom seven are from Cork with two from districts adjacent to where The President’s family were. The Army listings have many Donovan names but as there are many families in that general area of Ireland it would take a great deal of research to sort out the lead possible cases.

For the Kearney name in the Trafalgar Roll with near variants there were about a dozen Irish who were scattered, with three from Dublin where one branch of The President’s family were. So there is an outside chance there but far from certain. With the Kearney name there are some Army names to check up and it is easier to work out what is possible. There are some interesting possibilities.

In families with several children and a number of sons, often some of the younger sons had to find other things to do away from the family home. They turn up in many and various places notably the Army or Navy. So the chances are that none of the direct ancestors may have served but it is likely that someone in the family did one way or another.

Many would have been in local Militia’s, a form of conscription for local policing and law and order, but the militia’s could be sent anywhere in the UK and were. Often large drafts of men went on to the Regular Army proper as volunteers, of a sort.

In Plymouth in 1807 over 200 of the Worcestershire Militia transferred to the 7th Regiment, known as the Royal Fusiliers and regarded as a London regiment. Another 20 skilled and literate men went into the 43rd Light Infantry, including my direct male forebear of the same name. The 71st Highlanders at one stage picked up 70 men from Surrey.

There was a Thomas Kearney from Athlone who served in the 7th Regiment from 1800 to 1821 ending as a Colour Sergeant. Rather later Maurice Micklewhite (aka Michael Caine) was in Korea with the Regiment on active service. The Kray Brothers were on its strength at one time, but deserted. They did not have the bottle for the 1950’s Army.

The brothers, who were active in West End nightclub life were on close terms with some of the US Democrat’s celebrity supporters notably Frank Sinatra, friend of Joe Kennedy and Judy Garland. Her Majesty’s father, King George V had to put up with Joe Kennedy as US Ambassador and did not like him much.

Looking at the known Kearney family names of The President’s there are some in the listings for the period. There is a Michael from near to the President’s Irish acres who served in the 19th Foot, known as The Green Howards from 1800 to 1813, but they were in India during this time.

They did see a good deal of action in The Maratha Wars, notably the 1803 Battle of Lasswaree and the 1804 Farrukhabad. The latter was famous for The Great Chase when a few hundred Regular and East India Company cavalry defeated several thousand Maratha’ and pursued them for 24 hours to inflict severe losses. The 8th Kings Irish Hussars were present.

There was one William who was close who signed on as an older man in 1808 serving until 1821 with the 88th Foot, completing his time with the 6th Veteran’s Battalion. This Regiment was better known as The Devil’s Own, The Connaught Rangers. They gave astonishing service in the Peninsular War. They were not at Waterloo but another William was, this one a Driver in the Royal Artillery and he came from Mallow.

There are three John’s. One born in Dublin, (was he one of the President’s?), served with the 11th Hussars, The Cherry Pickers, from 1799 to 1828 and they served both in The Peninsular and at Waterloo. Another from not far away in Limerick, served from 1817 to 1829 with the 83rd Foot. This was a Dublin regiment that before his time had served in the Peninsular and at Waterloo.

The third John is intriguing, he was at Waterloo with the 2nd Battalion of the 44th Regiment, The Essex Regiment. In 1814-1815 the 1st Battalion was in America notably at the Battle of Bladensburg and then burning Washington DC. They were commanded by Arthur Brooke, Deputy to the force, and a Brooke of Brookeborough in County Fermanagh.

A later Brooke of that family, Field Marshal Alan Brooke has a statue in Whitehall, a testament to his crucial service in World War 2 and again known to Her Majesty. He shared her father’s dislike for Joe Kennedy. Also, with a statue nearby is one to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, although born in London, of Ulster family.

His were not far from the family of Major General Robert Ross of Rostrevor, County Down who commanded the 1814 Force and when entering the White House found the dinner still warm in the kitchen left by the fleeing family of President James Madison. Perhaps, when The President and Her Majesty dine something flambé might be on the menu.

Turning to others of the Kearny surname with other Christian names, there is a Patrick from Limerick who served with the 53rd Foot and then 66th Foot from 1815-1817 but neither served at Waterloo. A David was with the City of Limerick Militia in 1803.

Robert, another Dublin man served with the 16th Light Dragoons from 1805 to 1828. The regiment were raised in 1759 as Burgoyne’s Light Horse and served in America at the Battle of Brandywine. They too were in the Peninsular and at Waterloo. Later, they became embodied after World War1 with the 5th Irish Lancers to form the 16/5 Lancers. He was discharged as worn out in the rank of Troop Sergeant Major.

An Edward served with the 21st Light Dragoons from 1801 to 1818, this regiment being disbanded in 1821 and later revived in 1861 in India. It served in San Domingo and South Africa in Edward’s time and a troop provided the body guard for the exiled Napoleon on St. Helena until his death.

There are two more, one a Daniel was with the 2nd Battalion of the 95th Rifles at Waterloo. It is the other who has caught my eye for the place at the top of the short list.

It is James Kearney of the 1st Battalion of the 95th Rifles (as in the Sharpe series) who served from 1805 to 1816 and must have seen it all in The Peninsular and at Waterloo. He was discharged at York as old and worn out, as well he may have been. James was from very close to The President’s Irish acres.

There could be others because the internet sites are not full or reliable. A few years ago I did a lot of work on Army muster rolls of the period at the Public Record Office and one in particular, the 71st Highlanders. The depot was in Glasgow with the consequence that the regiment had many Lowlanders as well as number of Irish.

They had been ordered to America in 1814 but were then disembarked in Cork and sent up to barrack at Limerick for a short while before going to Flanders to deal with Napoleon in 1815. It is probable that they took on some recruits while they were there.

Like most others of the British Army there it was a raw bunch of men that had to face the French at Waterloo. I have lists of names transcribed as well as photocopies of a part of the 71st’s Waterloo Roll.

I decided to check the online Waterloo Roll for accuracy only to find many names missing and a few others where the spelling was changed. So there could be others that only searches of the original documents will yield. Amongst them may be your relations or mine or indeed The President’s.

As a courtesy Her Majesty might ask The President how his 82nd Airborne Division are faring at present. In 1944 the airfields they went to for the drops at the Normandy Landings and later Arnhem were not very far from Sandringham.

At the time both she and Prince Philip were in the services. He would learn that Her Majesty, as well as being expert in animal husbandry knew how to drive, maintain, service and change the wheels on a truck. There are few Heads of State with these broad practical skills around in the modern age.

Here’s forty shillings on the drum, if you want more try “Over The Hills And Far Away” on Youtube, the Davros Team one is quite striking. It does not shirk the business of what war is all about either then or now.

1 comment:

  1. "would be a boxed set of all the “Sharpe” series that appeared on TV."

    I hope she will be patriotic and make sure they are region 2 code