Private John Ross
Private John Ross - Waterloo Soldier
John Ross was born c.1790 in Kincardine, Rosshire. As a young man he enlisted in the 92nd Regiment of the Gordon Highlanders and served in the Peninsular War with his regiment from October 1810 until April 1814. He took part in the battles of Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nive and Orthes which would become embroidered on the colours of the Gordon Highlanders as battle honours.
Allied armies under the command of the Duke of Wellington faced the French under Napoleon on 18 June 1815. Several Scottish Battalions had been hard pressed to hold the line at the cross roads of Quatre Bras two days earlier.
John Ross helped his regiment defend the farm house at Quatre Bras and assault the Fermede la Bergerie. Two days later he was present at the battle of Waterloo and towards the end of the day he was wounded.
On leaving the army John Ross returned home and married Mary. At least five of their eleven children were born when they lived at Creich in Sutherland. Some of the others were born at Balmaclellan, Balmaghie and Lochrutton. Only their youngest son was born when the family moved to Penpont in Dumfriesshire. John worked as a forester for 30 years for Mr Lauderdale Maitland of Eccles and lived at Burnhead.
John Ross died on Christmas Eve 1866 aged 76 years and was buried in Penpont Churchyard.
The Waterloo Journal
'In particular we know of memorials that are in need of urgent restoration including the splendid headstone to Pte John Ross 92nd Foot at Penpont Churchyard in Dumfriesshire' (Vol. 32 No. 2 Summer 2010 p23)
'John Ross served inthe Gordon Highlanders, serving in the Pennisular and at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. His memorial is remarkably informative about his military service for other ranks' (vol. 33 No 3 Winter p.36)
Although sadly fallen into disrepair, the inscriptionon the gravestone is as follows:
'Sacred to the Memory of John Ross who died on the 24th December 1866 aged 76 years. In the 92nd Highlanders he was present and shared in the brilliant victories of Orthes, Nives, Pyrenees and Vittoria and held the Peninsula Medal with four clasps.
'He also fought in the battle of Waterloo for which he held that Medal and the special Peninsula Clasp and was one of the heroic few who survived the defence of Quarte Bras Farmhouse and was severly wounded whilst cheering the approach of the Prussian Army.
'He was afterwards for more than 30 years, Forrester, which situation he most faithfully filled to Lauderdale Maitland Esq: of Eccles, by whom he was deeply respected.' (Transcription of lettering on the Gravestone of John Ross in Penpont, Dumfriesshire recorded by J.H. Chadwick in 1906.)
Funds have been raised to have the stone repaired and it is currently with a local stonemason.
The Ross Family
The eldest son of John and Mary Ross was Alexander who in 1851, was living in Durisdeer and worked on the railway.
Hugh, their second son, gave up being a stocking maker to become a forester at Eccles. He married Ann McRitchie and had a daugher Mary Maitland Ross. He died at Kirkton, Kirkmahoe on 24th March 1889.
Ann Cunningham Ross who married William Brown is commemorated on the Brown family gravestone in Penpont churchyard. Their seven children were born in Penpont.
James ross was born in Balmaclellan and was a forester and a gardener at Eccles. He married Mary Hunter, daughter of Robert Hunter and Janet Lorimer. They had four children, James and Mary are both commemarated on the Ross Family Gravestone
Helen Ross who was born at Balmaghie married John Smith, had a son and two daughters. She died in Barjarg village, Keir in1892.
John Ross - Storyteller
John Ross, like many soldiers, will have had many exciting stories to recall from his service in the Gordon Highlanders. He is mentioned by David Dinwiddie when he wrote to his brother Alexander Dinwiddie in February 1864 from Madras.
'In 1834....Previous to my leaving Penpont I saw some soldiers at one of the fairs on recruiting service, and one of them seeing me rather interested about their gay dress and ribbons, observed that I wouold be a soldier someday. This, with the stories told by old John Ross, Mr Maitland's game-keeper, about the Peninsular War,Waterloo etc., became impressed on my mind, and from that time I thought of doing mighty deeds some day....bearing away the colors of some regiment, like Ewart of the Scotch Greys at Waterloo.' (from Life and Adverntures of D. Dinwiddie by D. Dinwiddie, Dumfries 1878 p4)
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