James Lappin

Discussion in 'Biographies' started by Arzosah, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. Arzosah

    Arzosah Dancing, to banish some of the horrors of war...

    James Lappin was born around 1788, in the parish of St Mary's, in the town and county of Meath, Ireland. He had a trade, as a shoemaker, but he chose to enlist in the British Army at the age of 19, somewhere in County Donegal, on 1st October 1807.

    His movements on first joining the army are unknown, nor do we know when he married his wife, but marry her he did - a woman named Mary. Was she his childhood sweetheart, who followed him from Ireland? Did he meet her on his travels with his regiment? We don't know, but we have detailed records of the births of his children, from the regimental records.

    His first daughter Catherine was born 22 November 1809 in Glasgow, and christened 3 days later. James was then a corporal. His daughter Elizabeth was born 11 February 1811 at New Ross, County Wexford, and christened one day later. James was still a corporal.

    His daughter Mary was born 23 May 1818 at Isberque, northern France, and christened five days later, so James definitely served in the Army of Occupation. In between the 1811 birth, and the 1818 birth, is the Peninsular War, and also some personal issues for James - because by 1818 he was demoted to private.

    When I spoke with a researcher at the Regimental Museum in Glasgow, he suggested a reason for the demotion: a man who had been a cobbler was probably given responsibility for mending the boots of the regiment, and as such he would have been given responsibility for the leatherworking tools, and the leather itself. He may have sold the leather off, or done private work, and when that was discovered, he would have been demoted as punishment - no records exist, so this is just a suggestion.

    He served in the army for 11 years and 125 days, in the 71st Highland Regiment of Light Infantry: one year as a sergeant, eight years as a corporal, two years and 125 days as a private. He served at Waterloo in Captain G H Gordon’s company of the First Battalion of the 71st Regiment of the Highland Light Infantry, as a corporal. 4 sergeants, 6 corporals, 2 drummers, and 65 privates were also awarded the Waterloo Medal in that company.
    I have these notes about the activities of the 71st at Waterloo: "At 19:30, the Imperial Guard was ordered forward, the Middle Guard being sent on to the British line. On reaching the rise of the Mont St Jean Ridge, they were suddenly faced by a brigade of British Foot Guards who had been lying in the grass. As the Middle Guard reeled, Adam's Light Brigade wheeled round to attack their flank. The 71st (as part of the Light Brigade) attacked the Middle Guard's 4th Chasseurs and sent them into retreat. The 71st led the general advance toward the French line and spent the night at Napoleon's headquarters at Rossomme."

    The regimental motto is Nemo Nos Impune Lacesset (No one molests us with impunity).
    A history of the 71st lists the engagements in which it took part during the time of James' service:
    August 1808 - initial expeditionary force that landed in Mondego Bay in Portugal; Battle of Rolica; Battle of Vimeiro; Convention of Cintra.
    January 1809 - Battle of Corunna
    June - departed for the Walcheren Expedition
    September - arrived in Lisbon
    May 1810- Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
    October - capture of Arroyo dos Molinos
    May 1812- Battle of Almaraz
    June 1813 - Battle of Vitoria
    November - Battle of Nivelle
    April 1814 - capture of Toulouse
    June 1815 - Battle of Waterloo
    His discharge was set in motion on 9th November 1818, when the papers were signed, I think in front of him, at Chelmsford. As usual, a physical description of him was given, to prevent fraud for the pension claims: about 30 years of age, 5 feet 5.5 inches tall, black hair, hazel eyes, fresh complexion. This was confirmed a few months later by the people at Horse Guards, when he was discharged finally on 2 February 1819 – the army was downsizing after the Napoleonic Wars, of course.

    His conduct was described as “very fair” (although he was a corporal at the time of Waterloo, and on discharge was a private, so it can’t have been that good). He was also a sergeant for a year, so he had a pretty big demotion.

    He was awarded an extra two years on his pension for serving at Waterloo, although he was a corporal at Waterloo, and the years he was awarded were as a private.

    He was demobbed to Liverpool, and joined the Irish community there, and a community of bootmakers as well! He soon disappears from the records, however, although his wife Mary is in the 1841 census living with a daughter and her husband. He may have simply drifted away from the family after travelling the countryside to find work - records are difficult to decipher, they aren't specific as to birthplace in Ireland, or age. He disappears, but his legacy does not: through his daughter Mary, born in France, he is my great great great great great grandfather. He has many more descendants!

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