In our monthly history series, Paul Harding of Discover History tells of ‘worcester’s forgotten hero’

This month I would like to highlight a freeman, hero and career soldier who is rarely mentioned in Worcester today. Henry Walton Ellis fought in the Battle of Waterloo 205 years ago and is remembered in our Cathedral with a beautifully carved plaque.

Henry was born on the November 29 1782 and was the son of Lt Col John Joyner Ellis and daughter to Sarah (Née Walton). His father had been MP for Worcester and was also a career soldier.

The christening took place at St Nicholas Church on the Cross, almost a year after his birth on October 6 1783.

His military career began when he was just weeks old, when his father purchased a commission for him, in the Regiment he was serving in at the time - The 89th Regiment of Foot.

In the 18th and 19th century commissions in the British Army could be purchased by gentlemen and their fathers who wanted to set their sons on a career for life. The higher the rank the more money you had to part with.

Unfortunately his military career almost came to an end just days after, when the 89th Regiment of foot was disbanded. He was then put onto half pay until a transfer could be arranged by his father and the government body at Whitehall in London. In 1789 Henry Ellis was transferred into the 41st Regiment of Foote, bringing him back to full military pay. When he was 9 he then began to move through the ranks starting with Lieutenant and transferring to the 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fusilier) in September 1795.

The British Army, at the time, was involved in fighting the French in Europe. He was wounded at least eight times, including during the famous engagements in the Peninsular War - Albuera and Badajoz.

Henry Ellis was eventually made Colonel on June 14 1814, became a Knight Commander of the Order of Bath and even given the honour of being made Freeman of the City of Worcester in December of the same year.

He was presented with a Silver Vase whilst the Mayor said the gift was in respect for his “meritorious services, so repeatedly displayed in the defence of his Country.”

Col Sir Henry Walton Ellis KCB sadly died of his wounds following the Battle of Waterloo on June 20 1815.

His Regiment described his great heroism in the Battle, fought on June 18.

He was amongst his men in one of the famous British Squares when he was shot in the chest.

“Feeling himself faint from loss of blood, he calmly desired an opening be made in the square and rode to the rear. At a short distance from the field he was thrown from his horse whilst in the act of leaping a ditch; here he was found soon afterwards, much exhausted and conveyed to a nearby out-house where his wound was dressed.

“In the course of the night of June 19 the hovel in which he was lodged unfortunately caught fire and he was with difficulty rescued from the flames by Assistant Surgeon Munroe of the RWF, but was exhausted by so many shocks and on June 20 expired.”

Two French writers in 1869 confirmed “Sir Henry Ellis was buried in the cemetery next to the church of Waterloo” but sadly his whereabouts today are not known.

When Discover History delivered a Battlefield Tour of Waterloo in 2015, we visited his monument now located in the courtyard of the Wellington Museum in Waterloo and also the plaque to him in the church. A magnificent memorial plaque can also be found in Worcester Cathedral near the West Door. The carving shows the moment he was shot on that fateful day.