The Battle of Waterloo and the stirring events of 1815 are reflected in Scottish parish registers in entries that pay tribute to the British and French commanders, or relate directly to other participants.
The baby with the most topical and patriotic name in Scotland in 1815 was born to John Thomson and Janet Durie on 3 August 1815 in the parish of Inverkeithing, Fife. They named their son Wellington Waterloo Thomson. Wellington became a gardener and was living in Edinburgh when on 1 June 1846 he married Janet Bain from the parish of Halkirk, Caithness.
Marriage of Wellington Waterloo Thomson and Janet Bain, 1846
National Records of Scotland, Old Parish Register of Marriages, OPR685/2/46/145
Their daughter, Christina, was born the following year. Thanks to Wellington's great-great-grandson, Larry Thomson, we know that he emigrated with his family on 15 October 1848, sailing from London on the 'Labuan' bound for Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. In the mid-1850s he worked in Geelong as a gardener, then as a brickmaker, and by 1863, having moved to Ararat, Victoria, was supplying firewood to public buildings. Christina married, but predeceased her parents along with two of her four siblings. Wellington died in Ararat on 12 April 1889, aged 73, and Janet, known as Jessie, on 31 December that year, aged 69.
The death of the Duke of Wellington in 1852 prompted James Kennedy junior, a seedsman in Dumfries, to have his son, who was born on 11 February 1853, baptised as Waterloo Wellington Kennedy.
It was not only British heroes who made an impression on Scots. In 1800 John Mason, a shoemaker, and Janet Rickets, his wife, named their son Napoleone Bonaparte Mason. Napoleone or Napoleon was born 26 June 1800, and baptised on 13 July in the Canongate, Edinburgh. He followed his father’s trade in the Canongate, and died of liver disease in the Royal Infirmary on 8 July 1846.
Birth entry for Napoleone Bonaparte Mason, 1800
National Records of Scotland, Old Parish Register of Baptisms, OPR 685/3/11/120
Veterans of Waterloo enjoyed the special status of being the ultimate victors over Napoleon, and wore their Waterloo medals with pride. In 1818, when Thomas Christie, a former private in the 92nd Regiment of Foot (the Gordon Highlanders) had a son in the in the parish of Birse, Aberdeeenshire, the parish clerk described the father as ‘one of the Heroes of Waterloo’.
Birth entry for Thomas Christie, 1818
National Records of Scotland, Old Parish Register of Baptisms, OPR175/10/176
Sir William De Lancey and Magdalene Hall, were married in Edinburgh on 4 April 1815. He was a veteran of the Peninsular War, and in January 1815 was knighted for his services. She was the second daughter of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, a noted geologist, and the sister of De Lancey’s friend, Captain Basil Hall RN. Their marriage appears in the register of Edinburgh marriages on 21 March 1815, but as that date was two weeks before their marriage reportedly took place, it was perhaps one of the days when the banns of marriage were proclaimed.
Marriage of William De Lancey and Magdalene Hall, 1815
National Records of Scotland, Old Parish Register of Marriages, OPR685/1/54/142
Soon after his wedding De Lancey was summoned to act as Quartermaster-General to oversee preparations against Napoleon’s expected attack on the allies. Magdalene followed her husband to Belgium where he was playing a vital role in directing the supply of Wellington’s forces, and even in the placing of the allied troops on the field of Waterloo. He was wounded by a cannonball near the end of the battle, was nursed by his young wife, but died eight days later.
Read more about Scottish soldiers who fought at the battle of Waterloo, discover the story behind the well-known equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington outside General Register House, and learn more about past and present names on the National Records of Scotland website.