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It is June 18th 1815. The decisive and final stage of the Battle of Waterloo is being fought with all the majesty and horror of war.
Wellington faces Napoleon.

Edward Marks is on the field of Battle. He is a Corporal in the Royal Horse Artillery. He is serving in the 2nd Rocket Troop under Captain E C Whinyates.

Here is a contemporary account of just one incident, involving the Rocket Troop, given by Waterloo historian Siborne : -

" A party of horse artillery proceeded under Captain Dansey, along the Charleroi Road, to the front of the centre of the Anglo-allied line, and came into action with rockets near the farm of La Haye Saint, leaving its two guns in the rear under Lt. Wright. Capt. Dansey very soon received a severe wound, which obliged him to retire; and the party, after firing a few rockets, fell back a little to where its horses were standing. It was then commanded by a Sergeant (Daniel Dunnett), who, on perceiving the advance of the nearest French column towards the farm, dismounted his men as coolly and deliberately as if exercising on Woolwich Common, though without any support whatsoever, laid rockets on the ground, and discharged them in succession into the mass, every one of them appearing to take effect. The advance of the column was checked, and not resumed until Dunnett, having expended all his rockets, retired with his party to rejoin the guns in the rear".

Was Edward part of this incident? At Waterloo, the 2nd Rocket Troop was equipped with six-pounder cannon as well as with 12-pounder Congreve rockets. Even if he wasn't involved in the incident described above, he was close by, in the thick of battle.

Accounts of officers inevitably survive more readily than accounts of their men. At Waterloo, Edward's commander Captain E C Whinyates, had 3 horses shot under him, was struck by a round shot on the leg, and severely wounded in the left arm towards the close of the day. Conditions for the men would have been no less severe than for their officers.

If you are a MARKS by birth, then Edward Marks was, as you read this, at least your great great grandfather and possibly as many as your 6 x great grandfather.

Edward was the son of John Marks the Excise Officer, (see the article, "Excise Man"). John Marks & Elizabeth Marks née Truslove had 14 children. Edward was the 9th child of the 14 and baptised on 30th July 1792 in the parish of Knowle, Warwickshire. Knowle is a village 3 miles to the south of Solihull and 11 miles to the west of Coventry.

What were the prospects for the 9th child in a family of 14 children at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries - over 200 years ago? How did this young boy from a large family get from his small Warwickshire village to the Battle of Waterloo? How did he come to settle in London where the 20th and 21st Century Marks family has its roots?

The Royal Horse Artillery, (RHA), came into being on the 1st February 1793. So when Edward signed up in 1808, the RHA was just 15 years old to Edward's 16 years.

The purpose of the RHA was to enable guns to be moved rapidly in battle after the fighting had started and to enable it to keep pace with the Cavalry. This demanded the highest possible professional skills in horsemanship and gunnery and not least, the need to embrace the panache for which the Cavalry has always been renowned.

The difference between the RHA and the field artillery was that every member of the gun crew was mounted, with two men sitting on the limber, which is like a two-wheeled cart with an ammunition box on top, three men driving the horse team and the rest had their own horses. That way, they could move fast and get into action very quickly, just where they were needed.

On their formation in 1793 the first units of this new Corps of Horse Artillery were called "Troops". A cavalry term, this was later changed to "Batteries". It was not, however, the only aspect of Cavalry influence to be found in the new Corps. Indeed, the uniforms and accoutrements, including the Tarleton helmet and curved sabre, were modelled upon those of the Light Dragoon regiments of the period.

The establishment of the Troops varied widely during the first years of their existence but in general they consisted of 6 guns with perhaps more than 150 men and a similar number of horses.

The Royal Regiment of Artillery instituted very careful selection procedures for both the officers and men who were to be posted to the RHA, and in part, this system survives to the present day.

The RHA provides a corp d'elite within the gunners which is used now, as then, to teach and train officers and NCOs to reach the highest professional standards. The officers can only serve in the RHA after a special selection process and after one tour, they return to serve throughout the Royal Artillery.

Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks wrote, "The RHA can justifiably claim to have proved themselves an elite throughout their long history. Many Regiments lay claim to this title for social reasons, but not the RHA. They have earned it by sheer professional efficiency."

By the time of Waterloo therefore, the reputation of the RHA as a corps d'elite among the regiments of the British Army, was widely accepted.

Today, it is still deemed a great honour by any Royal Artillery officer to "gain his jacket."

Tradition is maintained in the 21st century. It is the RHA who fire the 21 gun salutes in Hyde Park or on Horse Guards Parade. 6 horses pulling a limber with the gun at the rear. The Rockets were pulled by just 4 horses, as illustrated here.

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EDWARD THE SOLDIER Edward enlisted in the Royal Horse Artillery at the age of 16 in Coventry on 27th June, 1808. We think 27th June was his 16th birthday but cannot prove it definitely. He served in the RHA for 21 years 183 days.

From joining in 1808 until 1812, we have so far traced no records for Edward. However, for 1812 and from 1815 - 1819 we know exactly where he was serving, by examining the Muster & Payrolls for the RHA. Some things do not change in the British Army. Once a month on payday, there is a Pay & Muster parade. At the front is a table, one officer and one NCO. When your name is called you smartly march from the ranks to the table, salute, give your number, rank and name. You then receive your pay, your name is ticked on a list showing the amount you have been paid, you salute again and march smartly back to the ranks. Amazingly, The National Archive at Kew has all the Pay & Muster books for every Troop of the RHA from at least 1812 onwards into the 19th Century. They are on pages of parchment larger than A3 size and all beautifully hand-written. Each man's entry is ticked in red, signifying he has been paid. We have checked these Pay & Muster books for 1812 and every month from January 1815 - December 1819. The front page of every Pay & Muster book shows who is in command of the Troop and most importantly, where the Troop mustered. Then follows a list naming every member of the Troop, grouped by rank, showing how much he was paid.

Here is the summary at the front of the Pay & Muster book for the 2nd Rocket Troop for 7th
June 1815, the last muster prior to Waterloo:-

On 7th June 1815

The 2nd Rocket Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery

mustered at PAEMELE

Mustered by: Capt. E C Whinyates
Commanded by Lord Mulgrave

1 Capt. 4 horses
1 2nd Capt. 3 horses
2 1st Lieut.s 5 horses
2 Staff Sergeants
3 Sergeants
3 Corporals
7 Bombardiers
97 Gunners
81 Gunners & Drivers
4 Farriers
2 Collar makers
1 Wheeler
1 Trumpeter
222 Horses for 30 days from 1st to 30th June

179 Officers & Men
223 Horses

This complement is surely the same or very close to what it was 11 days later, at the time of the battle. Note that the Captain, (Capt. E C Whinyates), had 4 horses for his personal use. Having recounted above that he had 3 horses shot under him during the Battle, illustrates the need.

If you study the complement above, you will see that a Troop was a very self-sufficient unit. It included six four-wheeled ammunition wagons that would come up to the guns as required. Also 2 spare gun carriages to replace those damaged in action. A forge-cart so that they could do their own shoeing. A pioneer cart containing all manner of useful tools like spades, picks and axes and then the baggage wagons. Notice the 4 farriers and 2 collar makers.


THE WATERLOO MEDAL Every man who fought at Waterloo was awarded a medal. After the Battle, the Army compiled a list of every man who saw action. The purpose of the list was for it to be passed to the Royal Mint in order that medals could be struck. The list is, in fact, a large leather bound register, the contents of which are entirely written by hand in beautifully clear writing. We have mentioned elsewhere The National Archive at Kew in West London. Today The National Archive holds this list under reference MINT 16/12. Page 1 is headed: -

List of the Corps and Regiments engaged in the Battle of Waterloo

It shows: -

Horse & Foot Artillery 2,204 names

The RHA list starts on page 8 and page 23 is headed:-

Officers & Privates of the Royal Horse & Foot Artillery

Major Winyate's Troop (sic)

The 15th man listed is Edward thus:

1184 Serjeants - Danl. Dunnett (see the account of his actions above)
1185 Miche. Taylor
1186 Richd. Thompson
1187 Corporals - Robert Chalkley
1188 John Potts
1189 Bombardiers - Edward Marks
1190 Thomas Bayley

Now this entry is a bit of a puzzle as it describes Edward as a Bombardier. In the Pay & Muster book for June, just prior to the Battle, Edward is described as a Corporal and in the July muster at Mesnoval he is also described as a Corporal. For both musters there was a complement of 3 Corporals. We conclude that the clerk making this list should have placed the word Bombardier one entry lower against number 1190. If you are really sharp eyed, you will have noticed that the clerk also mis-spelt Captain Whinyate's name omitting
the 'h'.

The image of the medal at the beginning of this article and this image here are taken from a replica bought for me by my wife Janet. The reverse of the medal, pictured at the beginning, shows the seated figure of Victory above a tablet simply inscribed WATERLOO with the date of the Battle.

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                    The obverse, shown here, has the 
                    profile of the Prince Regent.

                    This was the first medal awarded and 
                    officially named to all ranks who took 
                    part in a particular campaign.  It was 
                    also issued to those who had taken part
                    in one or more of the other battles of
                    the campaign, at Ligny and Quatre Bas 
                    two days earlier.

                    Some 39,000 medals were issued.  

                    Today, an original RHA medal is worth 
                    around £750.

For the 6 months prior to the Battle and for the years 1815 -1819, Edward, as revealed by the Pay & Muster books, was stationed here:-

Date(s) Troop Location
Jan 1815 2nd Rocket, Capt E C Whinyates Troop Brabant
Feb 1815 On Command
Mar 1815 Flanders
April 1815 Flanders
May 1815 France
June 1815 (at Waterloo) Paemele?
July 1815 Mesnoval?
Aug 1815 Mesnoval?
Sep 1815 Mesnoval?
Oct 1815 Enverancie?
Nov 1815 Enverancie?
Dec 1815 Enverancie?
Jan -Jun 1816 Warley, Essex
July 1816 Woolwich
Aug - Dec 1816 Major W G Eliot's Rocket Troop Woolwich
Jan - Dec 1817 Woolwich
Jan - Dec 1818 Woolwich
Jan - Dec 1819 Woolwich

The locations shown with a question mark after them appear to be French and Belgian place names that have not survived until today. It is of course possible that we should apply the Tommy principle from World War I to these names. In WWI, Ypres was famously known as Wipers to Allied Soldiers. Was the soldier who wrote these Pay & Muster books, in what to him was a foreign country, using the Tommy principle? We will probably never know!

EDWARD's PERSONAL LIFE Edward was aged 23 at the time of Waterloo. Three years later he is a married man and a father to daughter Sophia Ann. The above list is very useful to us in trying to piece together Edward's personal life.

WHY THE MOVE FROM WARWICKSHIRE TO WOOLWICH? This is simply explained. The RHA was based at Woolwich. What more logical place for Edward to settle than close to his military base? This is how the family "moved" from Warwickshire to London and it is from here that Edward's children and grandchildren spread across London.

THE ENIGMA OF WIFE SOPHIA We guess that Edward met and married Sophia after Waterloo and after his return to England at the end of December 1815. Sophia is something of a mystery woman. We cannot trace her birth or her baptism. We can trace Sophia very well in later years through Census returns in both 1851 and 1861. On the 1861 Census, for example, Sophia is quoted as being aged 64 and gives her place of birth as Ramsholt in Suffolk. This is entirely consistent with details she gives on other Census forms. Take her age of 64 from the year 1861 and you get 1797, her probable year of birth. There were no Sophias baptised at all in Ramsholt in 1797. In fact, between 1771 - 1812 there was no Sophia Broom / Broome recorded as being baptised in Ramsholt. We also checked 25 parishes surrounding Ramsholt from Alderton to Walton and drew a blank in every parish.

MARRIED OR UNMARRIED? For many years we had no success at all in tracing Edward's marriage to Sophia. We started searching in April 2000 and the search continued over the following years. We finally had success in tracing Edward & Sophia's marriage in October 2009. Janet Marks searched Pallot's Marriage Index for England 1780 - 1837. She discovered a marriage on the 28th May 1816 between an Edward Marks and a Sophia Broome, in Westminster but the name of the church was not clear. On Saturday 24th October we visited the Westminster Archives and proceeded to search all of the churches in the Westminster area that existed in 1816. We found the marriage in the parish registers of St Margaret Westminster, which is a small white church literally in the shadow of Westminster Abbey. We now have a copy of the marriage entry from the parish register. We verified that we had the right marriage by comparing the signatures of Edward Marks on the marriage certificate, Edward's Army discharge papers and his son William George's indenture in 1847. So ended an extremely long search!

THE CHILDREN Edward & Sophia had 5 children:

SOPHIA ANN	        1818			WOOLWICH
EDWARD                  1824			PONTEFRACT
Notice how Edward's postings impacted on the places their children were born. William George is the direct line of descent and from whom the current Marks family is descended. Note where William George was born.

DISCHARGE Edward served for 21 years and 183 days in the RHA and attained the rank of sergeant. We can tell you this so precisely because we have viewed his discharge papers on microfilm at The National Archive. If you would like to read a transcript of Edward's discharge papers, click on this link:
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He retired on 30th September1829 aged 37 and was awarded a pension of 1/10d per day. 1/10d, (one shilling and tenpence) is just over 9p. That equates to an annual pension of £33.46pa.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION Edward's discharge papers describe him in 1829 thus:

About 37 years of age

5 feet 8 inches tall

light hair

grey eyes

fair complexion


1847 Bagshaw's Directory shows the only MARKS in Greenwich was EDWARD MARKS in Marlborough Street, Woolwich Old Road. Henry, (Edward & Sophia's youngest son), was born in Marlborough Street.

1851 Census entry : -

1851 - PRO ref - HO 107/1556/folio 680
10 Wades Place Poplar

MARKS - Edward - Head - Mar - 59 - Chelsea Pensioner - Warwick, Knowle
MARKS - Sophia - Wife - Mar - 54 - - Suffolk, Ramsholt
MARKS - William George - Son - Un - 22 - Smith - Ireland, Athlone

Note that Edward is described as a Chelsea Pensioner. At the time, all Army pensions were paid by Chelsea and pensioners were either residents or non-residents. Edward was a non-resident.

1867 Sophia died on the 17th January aged circa 70.

1871 Census entry involving Edward : -

1871 - RG10/616 66-70
8 Grosvenor Street, Walworth

MARKS - Henry - Head - Un - 35 - Cigar Merchant - Kent
MARKS - Sophia A - Sister - Un - 52 - - Kent
MARKS - Edward - Father - Wdr - 80 - - Knowle, Warwick.
MARKS - Mary A - Niece - Un - 13 - - Stepney, Middx.

Note that Edward is living at the home of his youngest son Henry. Note Henry's occupation. Intriguingly, in the 1861 and 1881 Censuses, Henry describes himself as an "Architect & Surveyor".

1877 Edward died on 21st December at the age of 85.

Edward had a long life, particularly by the standards of 1¼ centuries ago. He had a full life, a life to be proud of and he certainly played his part in shaping history.


Wellington's Army consisted of 50,000 infantry, 12,500 cavalry and 156 guns, a total of 68,000 men. Of these, one-third were British, only a small proportion of whom were the magnificent troops with whom he had won the Peninsula War in Spain and Portugal, the rest being Dutch-Belgian or German allies.

Wellington's army sustained the loss of 15,000 men killed and wounded, of whom 9,999 were British. The Prussians lost approximately 7,000 killed and wounded.

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Napoleon deployed 49,000 infantry, 15,750 cavalry and 246 guns.

The French Army of the North was all but destroyed, 25,000 of its men being killed or wounded, 8,000 taken prisoner and 220 of its guns captured.

The battle had been fought in a comparatively small area measuring approximately 2½ miles by 1 mile. Within this space lay 47,000 dead or wounded men and no less than 25,000 horses. It took weeks to clear the field, the last of the living wounded being found 15 days after the battle.

Conclusion drawn from figures:

Wellington had a total of 68,000 men. The British contingent was one-third of the total. Thus there were 22,666 British troops. British casualties were 9,999 = 44% or nearly 1 in 2 chance of getting killed or wounded. So Edward had close to a 50% chance of being killed or wounded. He survived, (thank the Lord), married and raised 5 children. Today, we are his descendants. I am here to write this and you to read it.

The Battle of Waterloo ensured that the great powers of Europe would remain at peace with each other for the next forty years. Edward played his part in this.

To conclude on a lighter note. Perhaps this article should have been entitled: -
"Edward Marks - His part in Napoleon's downfall"!

~ oOo ~