ARTHUR ROWLEY HEYLAND
Arthur was born in Belfast on 27th September 1781,the son of Rowley and Mary Heyland. Hehad a brother who was two or three years younger, Hercules John. He also had a half brother from his father’sfirst marriage, Langford Heyland, who was at least 9 years older. Arthur probably grew up in the Heyland familyhome of Ballintemple, near Garvagh,Northern Ireland. His father died in 1800 when he was 18 yearsold.
Arthur was educated at Eton and then Aberdeen. He entered the Army as an ensign in the 49thRegiment. At this time commissions werebought and Regiment chosen was not necessarily due to local attachment so muchas where there was a vacancy in a Regiment which was affordable. In 1801, when a Lieutenant in the 49thFoot, he was temporarily “reduced” to half pay, but later the same yearreplaced on full pay in the 14th Regiment at Winchester.
In 1803, when he was 21, he married awelsh girl, Mary Kyffin; and a year later was father of a daughter,Marianna. On 7 August 1804, aged 22, hewas appointed Captain to a company in the 40th Regiment ofFoot. He went on to have a distinguishedcareer in this Regiment during which he saw active service during thePeninsular Wars, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, (who later became Duke ofWellington). He was only absent fromduty for two months during the whole of this time.
The Peninsular War concerned the IberianPeninsular: Spain and Portugal. By 1807, Napoleon was powerful in Europe, hadseized the Spanish crown and declared war on Portugal. In order to defeat his remaining great rival,Britain, he intended toimpose a blockade against British trade anywhere in Europeby sealing the coasts. However, he hadreckoned without the universal uprising of the Spanish people with the help ofBritish forces under the command of Wellington. The struggle that followed has beenfictionalized in the books and television series “Sharp”.
Arthur was present in the battles atRolica and Vimlera in 1808. He was wounded at the battle of Talavera, in1809. In May 1811, he was with the 1stbattalion of the 40th when they were fighting the French at Badajoz. Boutflower, an Army Surgeon at the time,recalled in his diary that the French succeeded in taking possession for amoment but “were charged by the picquets and compelled to retreat. Unfortunately our troops pursued them withtheir wonted ardour to the very Walls, where they were exposed to a mostdestructive fire of shell, shot and musketry”, which killed and wounded400. Arthur was one of the wounded.
He was then appointed commandant ofEstremoz.
In 1813, he commanded the 40thRegiment at the Battle of Vittoria, following which he was awarded a medal andthe rank of Brevet Major. He was also present at the Battle of the Pyranees. The 40th Regiment was musterednear Pamplona on 24th June untilabout the 30th June 1813 when they marched with the rest of the armytowards the passes at Maya and Roncesvalleswhere they took up a position on the French side of the border. The DorsetSoldierrecords skirmishes against the French at Roncevalles and a footnote tells usthat between 25 July and 2 August, the 40th lost 40 men killed and150 wounded. On the evening of 27thJuly 1813, Arthur was again wounded, this time severely.
After returning to duty he becamecommandant at Toulouse, and later superintendedthe embarkation of the troops at Bordeaux, andlanded at Corkin 1814. He then obtained permission toretire on half pay. However, on theescape of Napoleon from Elba, he was called upon to take command of the 40thRegiment again, in 1815 at Ghent.
At 5 o’clock on the morning of 16thJune a sudden and very pressing order was received for the troops at Ghent to march at once to Brussels. Without delay a start was made, and that day the Regiment marched thirtymiles. A halt of a few hours only wasmade during the night, and the next day another long march brought them towithin a few miles of the villageof Waterloo.
On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, 18June 1815, Arthur wrote the following letter to his wife, Mary:
"What I recommend my love in case Ifall in the ensuing contest, is that my sons may be educated at the MilitaryCollege, except Arthur, who is hardly strong enough: the hazards of a militarylife are considerable, but still it has its pleasures, and it appears to me ofno consequence whether a man dies young or old, provided he be employed infulfilling the duties of the situation he is placed in in this world.
"I would wish my son John, whoseearly disposition has made us both happy, should serve in the Infantry till heis a Lieutenant, and then by money or interest be removed to a Regiment ofLight Cavalry. I trust his gentlemanlymanner and his gallantry in the Field will make his life agreeable. Kyffin might try the Artillery Service andmake it an object to be appointed to the Horse Artillery, which he can onlyhope for by applying himself to the duties of his profession. Alfred must get in a Regiment of Infantry,the 95th for instance, and my young unborn must be guided by hisbrother John and by your wishes.
"For yourself, my dearest, kindestMary, take up your residence in Wales,or elsewhere if you prefer it, but I would advise you, my love, to choose apermanent residence. My daughters, maythey cling to their mother and remember her in every particular.
"My Mary, let the recollectionconsole you that the happiest days of my life have ....... from your love and affection, and that I dieloving only you, and with a fervent hope that our souls may be reunited hereafterand part no more.
"What dear children, my Mary I leaveyou. My Marianna, gentlest girl, may Godbless you. My Anne, my John, may Heavenprotect you. My children may you all behappy and may the reflection that your father never in his life swerved fromthe truth and always acted from the dictates of his conscience, preserve you,virtuous and happy, for without virtue there can be no happiness.
"My darling Mary I must tell youagain how tranquilly I shall die, should it be my fate to fall, we cannot, myown love, die together - one or other must witness the loss of what we lovemost. Let my children console you, mylove. My Mary. My affairs will soon improve and you will havea competency - do not let too refined scruples prevent you taking the usualGovernment allowance for Officers' children and widows. The only regret I shall have in quitting thisworld will arise from the sorrow it will cause you and your children and mydear Marianne Symes. My mother will feelmy loss yet she possesses a kind of resignation to these inevitable eventswhich will soon reconcile her.
I have no desponding ideas on enteringthe Field, but I cannot help thinking it almost impossible I should escapeeither wounds or death.
"My love, I cannot improve the WillI have made, everything is left at your disposal. When you can get a sum exceeding £10,000 formy Irish property, I should recommend you to part with it and invest the money,£6,000 at least, in the funds, and the rest in such security as may beunexceptionable. You must tell my dearbrother that I expect he will guard and protect you, and I trust he will returnsafe to his home.
The next morning, 18th June1815, the 40th Regiment, led by Major Heyland, took up its positionon the field of battle, arriving there between 9 and 10 a.m. after a shortmarch. The Regiment remained as supportuntil 2 o’clock at the farm of Mont St. Jean. It was then advanced towards the farm of La Haye Saint, taking positionon the opposite side of the road. Thefoot soldier, Sgt William Lawrence, who also served in the 40thRegiment wrote later in his diary of the Battle of Waterloo: “The rain had not quite ceased and thefields and roads were in such a fearfully muddy state, they slowed and tiredus. In such conditions it was difficultfor the cavalry to perform properly, but they were even worse for theartillery.” For hours they wereforced to remain stationary, sometimes in line, sometimes in square accordingto whether it was enemy infantry or cavalry that they had to resist. They suffered great losses. At last, at about 7pm, the Duke of Wellingtonhimself rode up the Regiment and gave the command to advance and with a cheerthe line moved forward to clear the farm buildings of the enemy. Here Arthur was killed, by a ball in theneck. His sword had previously beenshattered, his horse wounded, and for the greater part of the day he had beenriding bareheaded, his cap having probably been also shot away.
Arthur was 34 years old and his wife waspregnant with their 7th child.
Inscribed on a Memorial at St Patrick'sChurch, Coleraine, are the following words:
“Sacred to the memory of Arthur RowleyHeyland, of Ballintemple, in the county, late Major in the 40th Regiment ofFoot, in which he served with distinguished honour under the Duke of Wellingtonthrough the whole Peninsular War, filling during that period many situations oftrust connected with his profession. Onthe memorable 18th June 1815, while in command of the Regiment in the act ofleading his battalion to conquest, he fell in the moment of victory on thefield of Waterloo, and was there instantly removed by his brother officers withaffectionate zeal and regret. Hisremains were deposited in a garden at MonteSt. Jean, where they lie under a tomb subsequentlyerected by his afflicted widow. Whetheras son, brother, husband, father, friend or soldier, his whole careerthroughout life may be delineated in the characteristic simplicity of hisdisposition in these few words - He knew his duty and he did it.”
His grave remained by a farm inthe village of Mont St Jean, within a few yards of themain Brussels Roadfor 150 years marked by a monument erected by the Regiment and surrounded byiron railings put in place to protect it by Mary, his wife. In an article in 1893 itis described as “shaded by a lilac tree and surrounded by purple pansies andjasmine.” However, in 1923, therewere a number of letters exchanged between Arthur’s grandson, H. K. Heyland andothers regarding the grave. Arthur’sson, then grandson had paid an amount annually to the landowner for itsupkeep. It seems that the stone wasstill in perfect order and the lettering distinct but that repairs were neededto the iron rail surrounding, and it needed the “removal of a privy which isfar too near the grave for decency”. The War Graves Commission had declined to assist because at the time the“powers conferred on the Commission under their charter” were “limitedto the graves of those who fell in the recent war”. Sometime after this, Arthur’s monument wasremoved to the Musee Wellington (WaterlooMuseum) forsafekeeping. Amongst the letters of 1923is a letter to H. K. Heyland from an F. F. Adam in which he suggests the 40thregiment have a portrait of Major Heyland “obviously from a miniature”. This led us, in September 2004, to the museumof the 40th Regiment (now the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment) in Preston. Themuseum is well worth a visit. There is aroom displaying Waterlooand 40th Regiment relics, and the archive is a treasure trove ofinformation.
Mary was born in Bangor,North Wales, on the 14 November 1779. She was the daughter of the Rev. John Kyffinand his wife Ann. She was probably their oldest child as they were married inFebruary 1779. Mary had a sister Lettice, whose birth date is unknown. She had a brother, John, who was two yearsyounger, and another sister, Elizabeth, who was christened 12-13 years later in1792.
When Mary was 23 years old she marriedArthur Heyland. He served in the 40thRegiment of Foot and travelled in Spainand Portugalduring the Peninsular War. The 40thalso served in South America before that butwe do not know if Arthur was with them there. Wives and families often travelled with the Army, safe, well behind thelines. Did Mary travel with Arthur? She had seven children between 1804 and 1815,and in his last letter to her, Arthur advises Mary to “choose a permanentresidence”. The only birthplace weknow of any of her children is Alfred, who was born in 1813 at Bangor. She was 34 when her husband was killed at the Battle of Waterloo. She was left with Marianne, aged about 11;John, just 10; Anne, 8 or 9; Arthur, (age unknown); then Kyffin, aged 6 or 7;and Alfred, about 2. She was alsopregnant with Herbert who was born shortly after his father died in 1815 and hesadly died on 26th May 1816 aged only 11 months. It must have been a difficult time for Mary.
We do not know where Mary eventuallysettled and raised her family. In 1824,her father died leaving her his house and other property in Bangor. Her mother had died the year before. Mary was the sole executor of his Will. Probate of her Aunt’s Will was granted to her on 8th June1824. This suggests she maintainedstrong links with her Welsh family and Bangor. Sometime before 1824, Mary’s sister Elizabethhad died young leaving at least 3 children. Lettice her other sister had died in 1810.
Mary’s daughter, Marianna grew up andmarried Thomas Browne with whom she had 11 children. John became a Colonel in the Army. He served in the Crimean War and was severelywounded at Sebastopol while in command of the7th Royal Fusiliers. Hemarried twice and had 6 children. Alfred, too, served in the Army and lost an arm at the battle of the Alma, Crimea. He had 5 children. We do not know what became of Anne, Arthur orKyffin only that they at least lived long enough to know of their father’sdeath. All of this Mary would have knownbefore she died, except for John’s last child who was born shortly after.
Mary died at Ballintemple, the Heylandfamily home in NorthernIreland on 28th July 1858. She was buried in Ennigal graveyard,Garvagh. A tablet was placed in GarvaghChurch“by her surviving children – arecord of grateful love and reverence.”