|Lt. Henry William Petre (1791-1852), wearing his Waterloo medal|
[Image courtesy of Kit Constable-Maxwell]
LIEUTENANT HENRY WILLIAM PETRE
Opinion has long been divided about who captured, at Waterloo, Napoleon's Barb charger known as Marengo whose skeleton is displayed in the National Army Museum.
The Royal United Services Institute Museum, now closed, gave credit to William, 11th Baron Petre, but he was not at Waterloo. It seems more likely that Marengo was captured by my great, great grandfather, Henry William Petre, a lieutenant in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. He was allowed to keep Marengo and had the horse shipped back to England where, it seems, it was stabled on the estates of his mother's family, the Howards of Corby Castle, and that of his cousin, Lord Petre. The misunderstanding would have gained currency because it was Henry's cousin, Lord Petre, who eventually sold the horse to Lieutenant Colonel J. J. W. Angerstein [Marengo The Myth of Napoleon’s Horse, Jill Hamilton, p. 4] and it was Angerstein who had one of Marengo's hooves, post mortem, turned into the snuff box which is traditionally placed every day before the Captain of the Guard at lunch in the Officers Mess at St James's Palace.
|Marengo, painted by James Ward (1769-1859)|
Jill, Duchess of Hamilton in her book, Marengo, The Myth of Napoleon's Horse, sorts out the confusion, writing that it was Lieutenant Henry Petre of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, who is said to have recognised Marengo and saved him "from the looters, tended to his wound and led him to the village of Waterloo" [Ibid., p. 191]. She also points out the close connections between the Petre and Howard families and how a horse could pass from one to another before being eventually sold. Henry Petre had, earlier in the battle, taken part in the famous charge of the Union Brigade which with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons comprised the 1st Dragoons (the Royals) and the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons (the Scots Greys). Lady Elizabeth Butler immortalised the charge of the Scots Greys in her famous oil painting ’Scotland Forever!’ A less well-known painting by Lady Butler is titled ‘Charge of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons’ and another artist, Brian Palmer, also painted the Inniskillings charging.
|Charge of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo|
[Image from Warfare Magazine]
I am sure that Henry Petre was just pleased, in the aftermath of the Battle, to have taken possession of one of Napoleon's chargers and that he would have had no concept of the considerable public interest that Marengo was to attract several years later. Having been allowed to keep the horse, he probably decided to ship it back to his family in England possibly with the intention of putting it to stud. He himself continued to serve with his Regiment until 1819 when he was placed on half pay.
Henry Petre, ten years later, inherited the Dunkenhalgh estate in Lancashire from his brother. He died in 1852. His portrait in the uniform of an Inniskilling Dragoon and wearing the Waterloo medal was inherited by his third son, Edward, and is today in possession of Edward’s descendants, the Constable Maxwells at Bosworth Hall. It is of interest to note that one of Henry’s great-grandsons, Captain Bobby Petre of the Scots Guards who was also to inherit Dunkenhalgh, won the 100th Grand National, riding Lucky Cottage in 1946.
|Dunkenhalgh Hall, Lancashire|
I was privileged as a Sandhurst cadet to witness, in 1965 on Horse Guards, the parade before The Queen of the Colours, Standards and Guidons of the Regiments that fought at Waterloo. I also inherited from my father, Major-General DAB Clarke CB, CBE, who organised the 150th Anniversary celebrations on behalf of the Army Board [*1], a medal struck by the City of London in 1965 "in honour of the Regiments that fought at the Battle of Waterloo". Fifty years later, I attended the Service of Commemoration on the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo at St Paul’s Cathedral on 18th June 2015.
|Marengo's skeleton, displayed in the National Army Museum|
|Snuffbox made from Marengo's hoof|
Marengo (or at least his hoof) continues to make the news, and Desmond pointed me to an article 'Snorting major was only taking snuff, ex-officers claim' [The Times, September 13th, 2016], in which snuff, taken from the snuffbox made from the horse's hoof kept at St James's Palace and ceremonially displayed everyday at lunch in the Officer's Mess, was most likely the substance that Maj. James Coleby and another officer were filmed snorting off a sword in the Mess.
Following are the genealogical details for Lt. Henry William Petre, his wives, and his children.
Lt. HENRY WILLIAM PETRE of Dunkenhalgh Hall, Lancashire, 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, fought in Battle of Waterloo and took home Napoleon's charger 'Morengo', b. 23 Apr. 1791 Marylebone, London; d. 26 Nov. 1852 Portman Square, Westminster, bur. St Mary Catholic Chapel,
|Adela Maria (née Howard) Petre|
Issue of Henry William and Elizabeth Anne (Glynn) Petre:
1) stillborn son, 6 June 1820 Bath, Somersetshire.
|Henry & Sophie (née Young) Petre headstone in|
Kensal Green Cemetery
Issue of Henry and Sophie (Young) Petre:
2A) REGINALD BERNARD HENRY PETRE of Edwardes Square, Kensington, chartered accountant, b. (before his parents' marriage) 4 Mar. 1874 Pimlico, London; d. 12 Feb. 1951 Edwardes Square; m. ELLIE AGNES PHELAN, b. 1878 Ireland; d. 15 Mar. 1950 Edwardes Square, and had issue, one son.
Issue of Reginald Bernard and Ellie Agnes (Phelan) Petre:
2A1) BERNARD PETRE of Kensington, company sales director, b. 1918 Kent; d. 8 Mar. 1996 Isle of Jersey(?)[*2]; m. 1939 Kensington, JEAN V. MENZIES, b. 1918 Surrey; d.(?), dau. of Sir Frederick Norton Kay Menzies of Kensington, medical officer (1875-1949) and Harriet May Lloyd (1890-1974), and had issue, one son and two daughters.
|Sir George Glynn Petre|
4) stillborn daughter, 23 Apr. 1825 Twickenham.
5) [daughter] PETRE, b/d. (lived only for a few hours) 27 Aug. 1826 Dunkenhalgh Hall.
6) stillborn daughter, 9 Sept. 1828 Dunkenhalgh Hall.
Issue of Henry William and Adela Maria (Howard) Petre:
7) EDWARD HENRY PETRE, of Whitley Abbey, Coventry, Warwickshire, b. 21 Feb. 1831 Hanover Square, London; d. 21 Nov. 1902 Chelsea, London, bur. London Road Cemetery, Coventry, Warwickshire; m. 29 Oct. 1857 St Marie's Catholic Church, Rugby, Warwickshire, Lady GWENDOLINE ELIZABETH TALBOT, b. 7 Jan. 1836 Leamington, Warwickshire; d. 3 Sept. 1910 Whitley Abbey, bur. 6 Sept. 1910 London Road Cemetery, yr. dau. of Lt-Col. Charles Thomas Talbot (1782-1838, descended from Edward III) and Julia Mary Magdalene Tichborne (1810-1892, descended from Edward IV), and had issue, two sons and two daughters.
|Whitley Abbey, Coventry, Warwickshire|
9) HUBERT REGINALD PETRE, b. 3 Sept. 1833 Grosvenor Square; d. there nineteen days later 22 Sept. 1833, bur. St Mary Catholic Chapel, Enfield.
|Jean (née Menzies) Petre (b. 1918)|
[*1] The second marriage of Henry Petre to London actress Sophie Young, as well as the son they had ten years prior to it, is (not surprisingly) overlooked by Ruvigny, Burke's Peerage, etc. Though twenty years his senior, Henry was thought to be of the circle of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), which puts into context his long-running affair with the London actress. That he went on to marry Sophie after the death of his first wife speaks to the love he felt for her. Dunkenhalgh Hall was entailed, so after Henry's death it passed to his brother Sir George Petre, but the rest of Henry's personal, non-entailed assets went to his widow Sophie, and eventually to their son. These were not insignificant, for when Sophie Petre died in 1908, eight years after Henry, her personal assets were said to be over £65,000, quite a significant amount for the time.
[*2] Per the online Wood Family Tree, Bernard Petre died 8 Mar. 1996 on Jersey in the Channel Islands. Dame Harriet Menzies, the mother of Bernard's wife Jean, died there in 1974, so it's quite plausible, but as the Channel Islands aren't covered by the England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1916-2007, I cannot verify that the March 1996 date is correct. The Wood Family Tree incorrectly has Bernard's birthdate as 31 Oct. 1918, confusing him with another Bernard Petre, of Burnley, Lancashire, who served with the East Lancashire Regiment in World War II and died in 1984.
The next post will focus on Desmond Clarke's line of descent, through Lt. Henry William Petre, from Charles II.