Army Career

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Private John Williams

British Army

John Williams joined the 35th Sussex Regiment of the British Army as a volunteer when he was still only 17 years of age. He was recruited from  Monmouth (Monmouthshire) on 19 April 1805 . Pay records reveal he was stationed at Winchester on 24 June 1805. On 24 August 1805 he was at Weymouth Camp. 24 October 1805 he was back at Winchester and by 24 November 1805 he was stationed at Lewes.

Why the 35th Sussex regiment

Many folks have asked, "When there was a perfectly good and large South Wales Borders Regiment in Brecknockshire, why did John Williams join the British  Army  35th. Sussex Regiment having been recruited from Monmouth?

Speculation

Well the South Wales Borders Regiment was at that time serving in Egypt and John Williams could not have joined that regiment even if he wanted to.

Another thought is that Monmouthshire and the town of Monmouth itself are quite close to Llanelly, Brecknockshire, where John lived. The Monmouth Shire border is only about 5 miles (8kms) from Llanelly and the township of Monmouth is only about 15 miles further on.  So, if John were to go out and make his way in the world, it is not unlikely he would go to nearby and reasonably sized towns which are Abergavenny, Monmouthshire and Monmouth, Monmouthshire. The Army was probably recruiting in this area close to John's home in Llanelly, Brecknockshire. That seems like a reasonable explanation  as to why John volunteered to join the 35th Sussex Regiment.

John's Stability

We know John took off twice from the Army Regiment when things were not to his liking. Perhaps he was a rather head-strong young man as his army conduct seems to suggest. If he had trouble in the Army, which he did, he may have had trouble at home as well and took off from there in the same way as he did in the Army. In the direction of Monmouthshire.

The Family Background

Now it is not too difficult to imagine there could have been conflict between John, the teenager, and his parents. What family has not experienced difficulty at some time with their teenage sons & daughters. Possibly trouble with his dad as evidenced below.

In later years here in Australia, it is noticeable that after progressively naming his children after his closest family members grand-father, grand-mother, mother, wife and brother etc, he broke that pattern by not naming any children after his father until the thirteenth and last child, a son, was named William, twenty nine years after his first child was born. Had he mellowed towards his dad after all those years or was this William named after his wife Sarah's father ? (William Nash). I think it was probably the latter.

Reasonable Assumptions

So, let us assume for a moment John did take off from home. Imagine this young head-strong and illiterate young man 17 years of age out of his family home. How does he support himself ? Perhaps it was out of necessity he joined the army in Monmouthshire just to survive.  It was perfectly clear from his later conduct, justified or otherwise, that he had no real commitment to the British Army.

Big Trouble

Early in his short army career he was reported for some of the remarks he had been making which were regarded by others as being rebellious. He was to face disciplinary action. In order to avoid punishment, John went AWL (absent without leave) this time with another private, Samuel Webb. He was caught and flogged which was the usual punishment at the time. Part way through the flogging he was put into hospital to recover. The balance of the flogging was to come later. John apparently thought the first flogging was quite enough so he went AWL again. Again he was caught and he received the balance of his flogging. He was then sent to trial charged with sedition/desertion.

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