Sergeant RICHARD JONES 1773 – 26 March 1862 aged 89 Master Tailor to the 43rd Regiment of Foot.Born in Baschurch, Richard was a tailor by trade, and on the 9th of October 1794 at the age of 22 he joined the 43rd Regiment of Light Infantry at Shrewsbury. He was to serve for 22 years, 4 as a Corporal and 16 as a Sergeant before being discharged at Plymouth on the 9th of October 1816. His Pension being 1 shilling and 11 and a half pence per day = 13 shillings 8 ½ pence per week. His Character reference describes him as ‘of impeachable character and may truly be called a ‘good man’.
His service started in Barbados in joining the expedition of Sir Charles Grey to recover the islands of Guadaloupe, Martinique and St Lucia. By 1797 the Regiment had been stationed at Fort George in Martinique until they were replaced and moved to Fort Edward until the end of the year. In January 1798 they moved again, this time to St Pierre, were they remained until February 1800 when they moved back to Fort George. The Regimental numbers now being reduced to 300, soldiers were given the opportunity to transfer to other corps or to return home. Richard being one of the returnee’s, took ship from Port Royal on the HMS Prince of Wales and landed at Portsmouth in late June, then moved to Stroud and later Tilbury where the Regiment spent the next 6 months before they were quartered in the Channel Islands until the beginning of 1804 when they embarked for Portugal.
The 43rd fought at the Battle of Vimerio which resulted in driving Napoleon’s forces out of Portugal. The campaign against the French then moved to Spain, where in January 1809 the Regiment took part in the retreat of Corunna with Sir John Moore, achieving fame as the rearguard to the Army, before returning to England where Richard continued his service at home. Throughout his time with the Regiment, Richard continued his trade as a Tailor as well as taking part in the battles of the time.
At his retirement he is described as being ‘Master Tailor to the Regiment’. On the 9th of October 1816 Richard was discharged from the service, reasons being – Rheumatism and Worn Out, he was 43 years old, half way through his life. Atwhat point Richard made his return home to Shropshire is not known, but in 1841 the census shows him as living at The Lodging House in Brownhill, Ruyton XI Towns with his wife Jane, he is 65 and describes himself as ‘Tailor’. In the next more detailed census of 1851 he is shown as a Chelsea Pensioner and Tailor and that his wife originated from Angus Scotland. Our last mention of him is in the 1861 census listed as Tailo, Chelsea Pensioner of the 43 Reg. His date of death is 26th March 1862 and he and his wife, [who died in 1871], are both buried in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church, Ruyton XI Towns.
Remembering that soldiers marched everywhere, from their place of enlistment and, allowing for the channel crossing, we are looking at around 1200 miles to Portugal or Spain, no wonder many of the returning soldiers were described as ‘worn out’ when the Peninsula Wars finally ended. If we add in his sea journey to the West Indies he ended up as a much travelled man As Richard did not appear to have had any family we have very little information about him but his Army documents show that he was 5’9” tall, Grey hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. That he lived to 89 would seem to show that he was a strong man of his time.
|The 43rd Foot at the Battle of Vimerio|
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