In 1811, a young Kerryman named John Fitzmaurice from Knockavallig, Duagh, left the county on a ship bound for Portugal where he met the Duke of Wellington and joined the Green Jackets, the 95th Rifle Corps as a volunteer.
His first footsteps in the peninsula were through the strategic lines of Torres Vedras, a place said to mark the beginning of the fall of Napoleon.
The Battle of Waterloo
After the Peninsular War, Fitzmaurice fought at Quatre Bras and at the Battle of Waterloo.
His heroics were vividly described in a memoir written by his son, John Gerald Fitzmaurice, more than a century ago.
Reproduced under title, Knockavallig to Waterloo, Biography of General Fitzmaurice, Distinguished Kerry Soldier it recalls the general’s career post battle as Captain of the Valentia Yeomanry during the whiteboy era, his travels on the continent with Sir Edward Denny, how he met his wife and their life together in Malta and, at one period, sailing close to Graham Island during its eruption.
The couple travelled widely on the continent and also lived in England, notably in Cheltenham, where Fitzmaurice was a director of Cheltenham College, a founding member of Cheltenham Ladies College and an advocate of the Cheltenham Rifle Corps.
During his residence in Cheltenham, Fitzmaurice travelled to Ireland on appointment as assistant commissioner to the board of works to alleviate the distress of 1845.
Declined a Knighthood
Fitzmaurice was Adjutant and later Lieutenant in the Yeoman of the Guard, but declined a Knighthood. A letter to his son in 1861 described how Queen Victoria had been ‘crying very much’ on the death of the Prince Consort.
In the 1850s, the family settled at Drayton Green where Fitzmaurice once again made his mark as first Captain of the 30th Middlesex Rifle Volunteer Corps.
His eldest son, Maurice Henry, Captain of the 11th Brigade Royal Artillery, died in India in 1865. His father, a ‘broken man’ died soon after, Christmas Eve, 1865.
About the Author
Knockavallig to Waterloo, Biography of General Fitzmaurice, has been researched and written by Glenflesk based researcher and writer, Janet Murphy.
For book availability and other information, Ms. Murphy can be contacted on: 087 24 12 097 and by Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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