Stonehaven’s Battle of Waterloo connection

Andrew Kennedy's gravestone at Dunnottar Church.
Andrew Kennedy's gravestone at Dunnottar Church.

With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo falling this week (June 18), it is interesting to note the Stonehaven connection to the battle.

Andrew Kennedy was born in Inverness and served with the 79th Cameron Highlanders, a regiment formed in 1793 and based in Inverness. We do not know when Andrew joined the army but he may have served in the campaigns of the Peninsular War including the Battleof Salamanca in 1812.

However in May 1815, the regiment was sent to Belgium and took part in the battle at Waterloo, when the Duke of Wellingtom successfully defeated the army of Napoleon. They were first involved in the battle during the early afternoon of June 18. Moving forward they engaged the French with a heavy volley of fire and followed up with a bayonet charge. The French retreated down a slope pursued by a British cavalry.

The French cavalry then launched a determined counter attack and the 79th had to form the classic defensive square. As the French pushed forward in their attack, Piper Kenneth Mackay of the 79th, showing no fear, moved out of the protective square and began playing the traditional rallying tune “Cogadh no Sith”. His personal courage undoubtedly led to the 79th being one of the only regiments specifically mentioned by the Duke of Wellington in his Waterloo Dispatch.

We are not told what part Andrew Kennedy played in the battle, but the interesting fact is that he was accompanied to Waterloo by his wife Rebecca Ferguson. Rebecca was born in Stirling in 1793 and would have been 22 in 1815. We do not know how she travelled with him or what function she performed but she was at her husband’s side, perhaps acting as a cook or a nurse.

The reason that we know Rebecca accompanied Andrew to Waterloo is that it is recorded on their gravestone which is in Dunnottar Cemetery, Stonehaven.

Rebecca died in 1861 aged 68 and Andrew died in 1865 aged 83. The gravestone records “Erected by Andrew Kennedy late of 79th or Cameron Highlanders in memory of his wife Rebecca Ferguson who accompanied him to the Battle of Waterloo and who died in peace at Stonehaven 25 November 1861 aged 68.

The 1861 census shows Andrew nd Rebecca living at 5 Bank Alley in Stonehaven which may have been a lane behind the Bank of Scotland on the corner of Market Square, now the British Legion premises.

It is understood Andrew may have been a shoemaker in Stonehaven after he left the Army, and no doubt was always proud that his wife travelled with him to Waterloo, one of the most famous battles in the 19th century, and returned home to settle in Stonehaven.