John Torr – Waterloo Veteran
The 1851 census shows John Torr was born in 1793 in the Parish of Roster, Staffordshire. Before enlisting into the army, he was a servant. He joined the 7th Regiment Hussars in the County of Dublin on the 1st May 1811, aged 18 years.
John served in Spain from 1813-1814, during the Peninsular Campaign. The 7th Hussars went to Ireland in May 1810 to build up the strength of the regiment with recruits and horses. They were at Athy and Carlow, then Dundalk. In 1811 a unit went to Spain to join the newly formed Cavalry Corps. The rest sailed for England in 1813 and on the 13th August, they embarked for Spain at Portsmouth. Their strength was eight Troops of 100 men per Troop. Half the Regiment under Colonel Vivian arrived at Bilbao on the 29th August and the other half under Lieutenant Colonel Kerrison arrived later at Los Passages near San Sebastian. On the 2nd October they began the long trek through northeast Spain over the Pyrenees near San Sebastian. Their journey became more difficult between Olite (25th October), Noan (1st November ), St Esteven (7th November), Vera (12th November), Hasparren (23rd December), River Grave d’Oleron (24th February 1814), Orthes (27th February), and Toulouse (10th April).
At about 8.00 a.m. on the morning of 18th June 1815, the 7th Hussars were in the 5th Cavalry Brigade (7th and 15th Hussars and the 13th Light Dragoons) commanded by Major General Sir Colquhoun Grant. They positioned on the right of the line behind a ridge half a mile north of Hougoument. At once they were moved to a place that proved too dangerous and several men and horses were lost to artillery fire. About 4.00 p.m. the regiment were used to cover the infantry and defend them from French cavalry attack. The main cause for concern was the cuirassiers but the French lancers made diversionary attacks to draw the Hussars away from the infantry. General Grant directed then back to the infantry squares where they were most needed. They made repeated charges, and at one point defeated and killed a squadron of cuirassiers and captured their officers.
The 7th Hussars started the Waterloo campaign with 380 men and sustained 201 casualties: 63 killed, 121 wounded and 17 men missing. There were 21 Cavalry regiments in Wellington’s army and out of these the 7th Hussars had the 4th highest casualty figures. John Torr was one of the many wounded in the Battle of Waterloo.
The remnants of the 7th Hussars were billeted in villages near Paris, after the final battle they were part of the occupation, and stayed in various locations in northern France. They were finally sent home in 1818.
They were first quartered at Chertsey and soon required to provide a detachment to attend the funeral of Queen Charlotte on the 2nd December 1818. In 1819, they were ordered to Manchester stopping off at the home of their Colonel the Marquess of Anglesey at Litchfield. They paraded the lawns for the benefit of the Marquess and his family. Their Colonel lost a leg at Waterloo.
From Manchester they marched to Glasgow where they had to act as riot control police when trouble broke out at Paisley in 1819. They remained in Scotland until August 1820 and then embarked for Ireland the strength of the regiment was reduced to peacetime establishment, from 8 Troops to six. In 1823 they returned to England and attended a cavalry review on Hounslow Heath on the 15th July. They had another tour of duty in Ireland from April to July 1828 and then more control in Scotland. Serious riots broke out at Campsie, Dumbarton and Irvin in 1834. Their duties were more in the nature of guarding buildings and patrolling than full on confrontation.
Information from John Torr’s discharge papers state that he was discharged from the army at Nottingham on the 17th March 1836 because of a disability. The papers state that he was at Waterloo from 15th June 1815 and that he remained in France until 1818.
The 1861 census shows John was a Publican living with his wife, Sarah and their three children. He was Licensee of the Ship in St Cuthbert’s, Bedford from 1850-1864. This census also gives his place of birth as Nantwich, Cheshire which contradicts the 1851 census record. However his Army discharge papers record his place of birth as Roster, Staffordshire.
John and Sarah had 4 children. William was born in Dublin in 1830, Emma was born 1836 at Nottingham, Julia was born 1839 at Brayfield, Bucks, and Harriet born 1842 at Bedford.
Grave ref: F2.12.
In December 1864 John gave up the license of the Ship Inn to Thomas Gascoigne. John was then 71 and it is assumed that he could not carry on running the pub on his own.
The 1871 Census records John is living with his daughter Harriet and her husband Frederick Surtees at Highfield Farm, Renhold, Beds. Frederick farms 67 acres and employs 2 men and 1 boy.
John Torr died on the 3rd November 1875 at Renhold aged 82. Grave ref F2.23
Researched by Linda Ayres
British Army UK Forces Army Units
Census 1851, 1861, 1871
The Bedfordshire Times and Independent 20th June 1863.
The Bedfordshire Times and Independent, Saturday 17th December 18
August 04, 2021