To be honest, I never thought I’d be writing about my paternal grandfather’s side of the family on this blog. The Winks’ are a fairly normal line of people. Labourers as far back as I’ve been able to find – and most commonly found in the petty crime columns of the local newspapers!
I decided to do a general ancestry search on my 5x great-grandfather, Charles Winks when I came across Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records matching him. The place of birth matched. The birth year matched – and Winks is a fairly uncommon name. This was definitely the man I’d been looking for!
As you can see from the document, my 5x Great-Grandfather served in the 7th hussars and was a Private at the Battle of Waterloo! I was utterly flabbergasted to discover this – and equally excited to tell my father who is a Waterloo obsessive (he still won’t shut up about this).
To summarise what is said in this document, Charles signed up to the 7th hussars when he was 18 and was working as a labourer at the time (he was a Winks, standard.) He also managed to work his way up to Sergeant over 24 years of service. This is especially impressive when you look at the ‘signature of the soldier’ section it is marked with an x which is annotated as ‘his mark’ which implies that Charles was illiterate. He also served at the Battle of Corunna 1809. On the return journey home, Charles’ ship was wrecked, just off the coast of Cornwall. He was one of only seven men to survive. Charles here is also described as being a ‘very trustworthy man’.
Charles returned to Suffolk following his service and carried on working as a labourer. He had three children with his wife, and died at some point between 1851 and 1861.
I thought I would share this exciting discovery with you all, it’s not every day you find out you’re directly descended from someone who served at Waterloo!