Pistol belonging to North East cavalryman who fought at Waterloo up for auction; William Beckwith from County Durham fought the French at famous battle in 1815 and later became a general, now his pistol is up for sale at auction.
With sword in hand and flintlock pistol at his side, a young North East officer rode into battle at Waterloo.
William Beckwith was one of a family of 11 children from Trimdon inCounty Durham.
Beckwith and his pistol survived the momentous battle in June 1815, during which his regiment the 16th Light Dragoons made four charges against French forces.
Six months after Waterloo, Beckwith was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and he went to become a general.
Today, Beckwith's pistol, which carries his name engraved on a brass plate, will be sold by Tennants auctioneers at Leyburn in North Yorkshire, with a price estimate of [pounds sterling]2,000-[pounds sterling]3,000.
Beckwith purchased his pistol from John Prosser of London, sword maker to George III, and provider of high-quality arms to the officer class.
Waterloo was not Beckwith's first battle. He had enlisted in the 16th Light Dragoons in 1813 as a cornet -- the equivalent rank of today's second lieutenant.
He served with his regiment in the Peninsular War against Napoleon's forces and was involved in the battles of Nivelle and Nive.
At Waterloo, the 16th Light Dragoons charged the French cavalry to cover the withdrawal of the Heavy Brigade, which had penetrated too far from the British lines.
Beckwith is reported to have said: "No one was ever in such a fight before. We charged four times. I am not touched. My mare is wounded but not badly."
In 1822, Beckwith was a captain with the 14th Light Dragoons and a major by 1828. The regiment was posted to India in 1822 and took part in the Siege of Bharatpur.
Back in England he played a leading part in putting down reform riots in Bristol in 1831.
He was a lieutenant-colonel in 1833, rising to colonel in 1846, major general in 1854, lieutenant-general in 1861 and general in 1869.
He married the heiress Priscilla Maria Hopper of Silksworth, County Durham, in 1821 who went on to inherit Silksworth House from her father. Beckwith was appointed High Sheriff of Durham for 1857.
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In 1902, Charles David Doxford of shipbuilders William Doxford & Sons leased the 24-acre estate. In 1935 his daughter bequeathed the house and estate to Sunderland Corporation, who renamed the property Doxford House.
Beckwith died in 1871, aged 75, and is buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery, inHoughton-le-Spring, where there is a memorial to the family set in a rock face at the site.
The cemetery opened in 1854 following a cholera outbreak the year before, and the official closure of the graveyard at St Michael & All Angels' churchyard in Houghton, which had received more than 8,500 burials from 1793 to 1853.
The Hillside cemetery -- which has been the subject of detailed research by Houghton Heritage Society -- was officially closed for internments in 2005 after more than 7,000 burials.
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Research by the local heritage volunteers shows that Beckwith was not the only noted military figure to be buried at Hillside.
George Wheatley, founder of the Wheatley's confectionery business in Houghton-le-Spring, was 19 when he served in the Crimean war where he fought at the Battle of the Alma at the siege of Sebastopol.
His war ended when a cannon ball took off his right leg.
On his return to Houghton, he founded his business, which prospered. At his death he was survived by six sons and seven daughters.
Also buried at Hillside is another self-made man. Sir George Elliot, who was born inGatesheadin 1815 and the son of a miner, worked from the age of 10 at Whitfield colliery in Penshaw, eventually owned the pit and served as president of the North of England Mining Institute.
In 1849 he became a wire rope manufacturer, with his company laying the first Atlantic cable.
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He became an MP in 1868 and made arrangements for the new tongue of Big Ben in London to be forged at Hopper's Iron Foundry in Houghton.
Sir George, who spent time in Egypt, owned a mummy and also donated fragments cut from the Great Pyramid of Ghizeh to All Saints Church in Penhsaw and Saint Mary's Church at West Rainton.
They had been given to Sir George by Isma'il Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, to whom he acted as an advisor.
He also advised Prime Minister Disraeli to buy shares in the Suez Canal, resulting in England having control over the sea route to India.
William Beckwith's Waterloo pistol
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|Publication:||The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)|
|Date:||Dec 12, 2018|
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