Waterloo man’s sword impresses

Derek Billings, pictured with his ancestor's sword, who was at the Battle of Waterloo. NNL-150128-012643009
Derek Billings, pictured with his ancestor's sword, who was at the Battle of Waterloo. NNL-150128-012643009

Leamington History Group members were impressed at a recent meeting to see the huge sword which belonged to Battle of Waterloo soldier William Lawton.

His great-great-grandson Derek Billings, of Heathcote Road, Whitnash, took the sword along to the meeting. It had been passed down to him by his mother Ivy.

The sword had been presented to William by the Warwickshire Yeomanry when he was living at the Lord Leycester Hospital in Warwick many years after the battle.

At Waterloo, William served with the 15th Hussars and remained with the regiment until 1837 when he moved to Warwick, where he married. He also served for 14 years with the Warwickshire Yeomanry and was one of the ‘Brethren’ of Lord Leycester’s Hospital until his death in 1866.

Derek Billings told the Courier this week: “Thank you for the splendid article last week, it has taken a lifetime for this to happen. Up to now no-one has been interested in my ancestors’ exploits until I joined the Leamington History Group and quite by chance found out about David Eason’s research about Waterloo.”

Derek has a military funeral report about William, taken from the Warwick Advertiser. It was framed and also passed on to him by his mother.

There is also a letter from the War Office to the churchwardens at St Mary’s in Warwick. It reads: “Troop Sergeant Major William Lawton, now residing in your parish, who was discharged from the 15th Regiment of Hussars after long and faithful service, has been awarded the gratuity granted by Her Majesty to discharged soldiers who have conducted themselves meritoriously while in the army.”

William’s military funeral took place in Warwick on Tuesday January 9, 1866, and was reported in the Warwick Advertiser:“He was buried at St Paul’s churchyard with full military honours. At the churchyard the firing party presented arms to receive the corpse and after the service fired three volleys over the grave. The deceased was the last Waterloo Man left in Warwick, and hundreds assembled to witness his funeral.”