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Picton at Waterloo

Of the British officers who fell at Waterloo, writes Antony Brett-James, none was more distinguished than General Sir Thomas Picton.

Picton painted by Martin Archer Shee
Picton painted by Martin Archer Shee

When, after the victory at Toulouse and the abdication of Napoleon, Sir Thomas Picton came home from south-western France, he decided to give up active service. For several years his health had been poor and he had been telling friends that he was getting too old for a vagrant, campaigning life; already in the previous year he had been obliged to leave the Peninsula to recuperate at Cheltenham.

Now, in the summer of 1814, he went there again, and then made his home at Ischoed in Carmarthenshire. Resolved to spend as much time as possible in his native Wales, he bought two adjacent farms and began to look around for an experienced bailiff to manage them.

The General also stood for Parliament, and enjoyed neither civic hospitality nor the conduct of an election campaign.

“I have been going through a good deal of Mummery and making puppet show triumphal Entries into Haverfordwest, Carmarthen, &c. I have pitied others in similar situations, and I am ashamed of myself: but those who become candidates for Popularity don’t know how far the torrent may carry them, or they would never undertake the voyage.”

He was duly elected, and, pledged to no one party, attended the House with some regularity.

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