Battle of Waterloo by William Sadler

Whilst carrying out the research for LCH's next project, the Interpretive Panels for the Llanelli & District Cemetery (Box Cemetery), it was found from local newspapers that a Llanelli man who had been awarded a Waterloo Medal was buried in the area. After checking the cemetery's archives for the burial record for William Mainwaring it was clear that he was not in that cemetery. Searches of other local cemetery records including those of Adulam Chapel, Felinfoel, proved equally fruitless until it was brought to the attention of Gwyn Daniel a member of Llanelli Community Heritage Committee. By coincidence, Gwyn had already been looking up his family tree and found that he was a descendant of the same William Mainwaring and that the family grave might be at Hermon Chapel in Llannon. A search of the Hermon Chapel cemetery was made by Gwyn and Lyn John (the Vice Chair of LCH) and at last the grave was found . The headstone was propped up against another headstone and it was a remarkable find.

Here is Gwyn's story...

The Life of William Mainwaring (1791 – 1864)

William Mainwaring was born about 1791, and according to his military records, in the parish of Llandwelthy [sic Llanelly?] in or near the town of Carmarthen in the county of Carmarthenshire. He "took the King's shilling" on the 15th May 1809 when he enlisted in the 18th (King's Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars) in the city of Dublin.

He served in Wellington's Army and is listed in the Peninsula War Medal Roll and he received the following 5 battle honours clasps; Vittoria, Orthes, Toulouse, Sahagun and Benavente and Nivelle.

He was with the Regiment at the battle of Waterloo on the 18th June 1815 and was in Captain Jas. Richard Llewis Lloyd's Troop which was part of the 6th Brigade under Maj Gen Hussey Vivian.

William Mainwaring is listed in the Waterloo Medal Roll, and next to his name is written "In General Hospital, 16th June, joined the Regiment 17th, and ordered to the rear".

From the Regimental Records of the 18th King's Irish Hussars, Private William Mainwaring 4482 was in General Hospital on 16th June and on Sunday 18th. (the day of the Battle was sent to join the Regt. 17th and ordered to the rear with Richard Ellis' [sic] troop.

It was standard practice to clear the hospitals before a major battle to increase manpower as much as possible and to discourage malingering. The fact that he was ordered to the rear suggests that he was still sick or a wounded man.

On the 1st September 1821 the 18th Hussars was disbanded and on the 2nd September William transferred to the 65th (2nd Yorkshire, North Riding) Regiment of Foot. This regiment would become in 1881 the 1st Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment. It must have been quite a change to move from the Cavalry to the Infantry (did he have a choice?). He served with this regiment until his discharge, again in the city of Dublin, at the age of 37 years on the 12th June 1828. He was awarded a Chelsea Pension of 9d per day due to injuries sustained during his service.

Incidentally, the 65th of Foot served in India between 1821 and 1822 stationed in Bombay.

His discharge certificate states:

To prevent any improper use being made of this discharge, by its falling into other Hands, the following is a Description of the said Private William Mainwaring. He is about Thirty Seven Years of Age, is Five Feet 6 ½ Inches in height, Dark Hair, Blue Eyes, Dark Completion, and by Trade or Occupation a Labourer.

Headstone of William MainwaringWilliam returned to live in or near the town of Llanelly and married Mary Rees on 23rd October 1830 in the parish of Llannon. They lived together at Cwmtawel Cottage near Gellygaled and they had 3 children, Elizabeth (1833), Edward (1835) and Ann (1838). All the named family appear in the 1841 Census and William's occupation was listed as a Mason.

Elizabeth is not listed in the 1851 Census as she presumably left (and married?) between 1841 and 1851. William and Mary both appear in the 1851 and 1861 Census, but there is no record of Mary after 1861.

Hermon Chapel, LlannonWilliam died on the 29th June 1864 and he is buried in the same grave, located in the cemetery of Hermon Chapel in Llannon, as Edward Mainwaring who died on the 5th January 1861 at the age of 16 years. William did have a son named Edward but he was born in 1835 and the person in the grave is not his son but, I believe Edward Davies who is listed in the 1851 Census as a "boarder" aged 6 years living with William and Mary. It was common practice then to take in orphans of friends or neighbours and William probably gave his surname to Edward when he died at such an early age. Clearly, there was a strong bond between them for William to be buried in the same grave as the young Edward. William's death certificate has the informant as Elizabeth Rees (his daughter?).

Gwyn DanielAlthough the inscription on the headstone states that William Mainwaring died on the 3rd July 1864 this must be the date he was buried. His death certificate clearly states he died on the 29th June 1864. The headstone, which is no longer in the ground but leaning against another headstone, having been knocked over by a parishioner's car.

The following obituary appeared in the Llanelly Guardian in July 1864:


On Wednesday the 29th, ultimo, there died at Gellygaled Fach in the parish of Llanelly, an old man, of the name of William Mainwaring, at the advanced age of 75 years. This old man was one of the few surviving heroes of the Battle of Waterloo, and also of the Peninsular War.

While a young man he enlisted in H.Ms 18th. Regiment of Dragoons. He many times distinguished himself in the Peninsular War, especially in the great battle of Vittoria, where he rendered great service to his country, for which he was promoted, but was taken down again for some misconduct or other. In the Battle of Waterloo he also distinguished himself, his horse being shot under him more than once, and he himself had a great many slight wounds, the marks of which continued with him to the grave. He wore a medal with seven clasps, of which he was always very proud.

Summary of information about Private William Mainwaring from Military Records

DOB: Abt 1791
PLACE OF BIRTH: LLANELLY, Carmarthenshire although The National Archives has his place of birth as LLANDWELTHY, Carmarthenshire. Also his name in the records is WILLIAMS MANWARING.
MILITARY SERVICE: 18th (Light) Dragoons (Hussars) 15 May 1809 – 1 Sept 1821 (Regt disbanded)
Transferred to 65th Foot Regiment 2 Sept 1821 – 12 June 1828
He was at WATERLOO and gained two years service added to his record. He may have been at the Battle of VITTORIA.
WATERLOO MEDAL ROLL 1815 – soldiers details states:

Regiment: 18th HUSSARS
LENGTH OF SERVICE: 21 years and 25 days (sic) "after the age of 18"

NATIONAL ARCHIVES reference: WO97/786/81