East Lothian men at Waterloo (III)

This page marks the Bi-centenary of The Battle of Waterloo and records the service of East Lothian men at Waterloo.

On the 8th May 2015, the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.  It was on 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium that the Battle of Waterloo took place, bringing an end to Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of France.

The Field of Waterloo (East Lothian men at Waterloo)

The Field of Waterloo

The first of our Waterloo pages featured some enlisted men that served with the 1st Foot Guards (renamed the Grenadier Guards as a result of the battle). We used our resources to broaden the scope of our knowledge. We went to an online source, which corroborated and extended what we had discovered. A brief search of another (detailed access requires payment) indicated that many remain to be found.

Another snippet of information was recorded by Alexander Somerville, which seems to suggest that an entire Troop of the Scots Greys were from East Lothian:

Still there was the charm of the Greys being Scottish, with their fame for deeds of gallantry. An entire troop of them, shortly before Waterloo, had been raised from among the farming, men in my native parish, and parishes adjoining, by the late Sir James Hall, of Dunglass, for, and though he thought fit to “sell out” when the regiment was marching to Waterloo, the men from our parish did not “fall out” with him, but marched to the battle; many to be killed, more to be wounded, all to be honoured by sharing in the great finish to Napoleon’s wars, which, before, seemed as if they would have no end, and nations no peace; mankind no time to do aught but slay one another. Moreover, the doubtful reputation of the captain who marched with them until he smelt the battle from afar, was more than atoned for in the family by the reproaches which his mother poured upon him on his return home, and by his heroic sister. Lady De Lancey …

If the above is true there would have been another 70 or so men from East Lothian at the battle. However, Stuart Mellor’s Greys’ Ghosts seems to refute Somerville. Mellor lists the origins of many of the men of the Greys (as recorded in surviving military documents) and no such troop can be traced. But scattered through the regiment’s troops a few certain enlisted men from East Lothian are identified. Others will have served but were insufficiently well recorded. It may be that the ‘Hall Troop’ was one of the four retained at home, for training.

Some known, enlisted East Lothian men at Waterloo:

Private Andrew Knight, Scots Greys, Fenton’s Troop, of Inveresk.

Sergeant William Porteous, Scots Greys, Barnard’s Troop, of Stenton. William enlisted in 1794 and was discharged in 1816. He survived eight lance wounds at Waterloo.

Troop sergeant major Alexander Dingwall, Scots Greys, Cheney’s Troop, of Inveresk. Alexander enlisted in 1791, and was discharged (1816) to be Provost Sergeant at Edinburgh. He was born at Inveresk on 19 September 1770 to Hugh Dingwall and Christian Clark.

Private John Crombie, Scots Greys, Cheney’s Troop, of Stenton. John enlisted during 1795 in the East Lothian Fencible Cavalry and transferred in 1800 to the Scots Greys. He was discharged in 1823, worn out and with rheumatism.

Private William Watt, Scots Greys, Cheney’s Troop, of Inveresk. William was a smith to trade, enlisted in 1805 and served 18 years before being discharged with chronic rheumatism.

Sergeant William Clarke, Scots Greys, Vernor’s Troop, of Prestonpans. William enlisted in 1803 and was discharged 1825, worn out.

Private John Gillies, Scots Greys, Vernor’s Troop, of Humbie. John, a labourer, survived Waterloo unscathed.

Quartermaster sergeant James Hay, 1st Battalion, 79th Regiment, was born at Haddington. He enlisted in 1798 and was discharged in 1816, worn out.

Sergeant Alexander Chambers, Royal Horse Artillery, was born at Haddington. He enlisted in 1803 and was discharged in 1832.


This short account is by no means exhaustive. It highlights just a few of the men of and connected to East Lothian that served at the Battle of Waterloo. More remain to be discovered.

It has been much easier to trace the career of well-connected officers rather than rank and file: for every officer there would have been serving in the ranks many ordinary East Lothian men at Waterloo. Their tales are mostly missing, probably beyond recall other than the snippets recorded above. But we would be delighted to hear if your East Lothian ancestor was at Waterloo or served in the army and navy at that time. If you have a family story to tell, or a name to point us in the right direction, we would love to add such details to our account. So please, contact us.

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