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  • Writer's pictureStephen Callaghan

A Peninsular War Veteran's Memorial, Captain William Henderson

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

Liss Church, County Offaly.

Throughout County Offaly, many Church of Ireland churches have seen a decline in numbers, this has resulted in some churches being deroofed and left to ruin. This is not the case at Liss, Ballycumber. While the church bell no longer rings out to summon people to divine service, the church has been carefully turned into a living space. A faith better than letting it go to ruin.

On one occasional I was lucky enough to see the interior of the church and an impressive memorial commemorating the life of the Peninsular War and War of 1812 veteran. The memorial takes the form of simple marble shield with a knight’s head above, the memorial bears the name William Henderson and mentions some of the battles he was engaged. This is his story.

Memorial to Captain William Henderson.

William Henderson born around 1795. He was commissioned as an ensign into the 1st Garrison Battalion on 14 July 1811 and then transferred into the 5th Fusiliers on 2 June 1812. This historic regiment was formed in 1674. Henderson was further promoted to Lieutenant without purchase on 17 October 1814 and then later promoted to Captain.

The 1st Battalion, 5th Fusiliers were heavily engaged during the Peninsular War and Henderson was present with them at the Battle of Salamanca (22 July 1812) where he was wounded, Battle of Vittoria (21 June 1813), Battle of the Pyrenees (25 July – 2 August 1813), Battle of Nivelle (10 November 1813), Battle of Nive (9-13 December 1813), Battle of Orthez (27 February 1814) and the Battle of Toulouse (10 April 1814).

After fighting through the Peninsular War, the 1st Battalion was sent to North America to take part in the War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 18 February 1815), there they were stationed on the Canadian frontier. The battalion returned too late to Europe to take part in the Battle of Waterloo.

Captain Henderson began to receive his pension on Christmas day 1825. He died at his residence at Hollybrook, King’s County on 22 February 1867 and was buried in Liss graveyard. The primary beneficiary in his will was Elizabeth Mary Susan Carleton, wife of George Carlton (possibly his daughter).

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