Major Arthur Rowley Heyland
He was wounded at the Battle of Talavera in 1809. In May 1811 he was at the 2nd Siege of Badajoz with the 1st battalion of the 40th that formed part of the force attempting to seize the outlying fort of San Cristobal. Boutflower, an Army Surgeon, recalled in his diary that the French succeeded in taking possession for a moment but “were charged by the picquets and compelled to retreat. Unfortunately our troops pursued them with their wonted ardour to the very Walls, where they were exposed to a most destructive fire of shell, shot and musketry”, which killed and wounded 400. Heyland was wounded and spent his convalescence as garrison commander in Estremoz (Portugal).
In 1813 he commanded the 40th Regiment at the Battle of Vitoria, following which he was awarded a medal and the rank of Brevet Major. He was also present at the Battle of the Pyrenees. The 40th Regiment then marched with the rest of the army towards the passes at Maya and Roncevalles where they took up a position on the French side of the border. On 27 July 1813 and Heyland was severely wounded.
After returning to duty he became commandant at Toulouse and later superintended the embarkation of the troops at Bordeaux, landing at Cork in 1814. He obtained permission to retire on half pay. On the escape of Napoleon from Elba, however, he was called upon to take command of the 40th Regiment at Ghent. The 40th marched two days to within a few miles of Waterloo.
On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815, Arthur wrote the following letter to his wife, Mary:
"What I recommend my love in case I fall in the ensuing contest, is that my sons may be educated at the Military College, except Arthur, who is hardly strong enough: the hazards of a military life are considerable, but still it has its pleasures, and it appears to me of no consequence whether a man dies young or old, provided he be employed in fulfilling the duties of the situation he is placed in in this world.
Arthur Rowley Heyland was born in Belfast on 27 September 1781, the son of Rowley and Mary Heyland. Arthur was educated at Eton and then Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His father died when Arthur was 18. He entered the Army as an ensign in the 49th Regiment. At this time commissions were bought and a regiment was often chosen where there was a vacancy in an affordable regiment. In 1801, when he was a Lieutenant, he was reduced to half pay but placed on full pay in the 14th Regiment at Winchester.
In 1803, he married Mary Kyffin. They had five sons and two daughters. On 7 August 1804, aged 22, he was appointed Captain to a company in the 40th Regiment of Foot. He had a distinguished career in this regiment during which he saw active service during the Peninsular War, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, the later Duke of Wellington.
In 1808, Napoleon seized the Spanish crown and declared war on Portugal to impose a blockade against British trade in Europe. Heyland fought in the battles at Rolica and Vimeiro.
"I would wish my son John, whose early disposition has made us both happy, should serve in the Infantry till he is a Lieutenant, and then by money or interest be removed to a Regiment of Light Cavalry. I trust his gentlemanly manner and his gallantry in the Field will make his life agreeable. Kyffin might try the Artillery Service and make it an object to be appointed to the Horse Artillery, which he can only hope for by applying himself to the duties of his profession. Alfred must get in a Regiment of Infantry, the 95th for instance, and my young unborn must be guided by his brother John and by your wishes.
"For yourself, my dearest, kindest Mary, take up your residence in Wales, or elsewhere if you prefer it, but I would advise you, my love, to choose a permanent residence. My daughters, may they cling to their mother and remember her in every particular.
"My Mary, let the recollection console you that the happiest days of my life have ....... from your love and affection, and that I die loving only you, and with a fervent hope that our souls may be reunited hereafter and part no more.
"What dear children, my Mary I leave you. My Marianna, gentlest girl, may God bless you. My Anne, my John, may Heaven protect you. My children may you all be happy and may the reflection that your father never in his life swerved from the truth and always acted from the dictates of his conscience, preserve you, virtuous and happy, for without virtue there can be no happiness.
"My darling Mary I must tell you again how tranquilly I shall die, should it be my fate to fall, we cannot, my own love, die together - one or other must witness the loss of what we love most. Let my children console you, my love. My Mary. My affairs will soon improve and you will have a competency - do not let too refined scruples prevent you taking the usual Government allowance for Officers' children and widows. The only regret I shall have in quitting this world will arise from the sorrow it will cause you and your children and my dear Marianne Symes. My mother will feel my loss yet she possesses a kind of resignation to these inevitable events which will soon reconcile her.
I have no desponding ideas on entering the Field, but I cannot help thinking it almost impossible I should escape either wounds or death.
"My love, I cannot improve the Will I have made, everything is left at your disposal. When you can get a sum exceeding £10,000 for my Irish property, I should recommend you to part with it and invest the money, £6,000 at least, in the funds, and the rest in such security as may be unexceptionable. You must tell my dear brother that I expect he will guard and protect you, and I trust he will return safe to his home.
A R H
The next morning, 18 June 1815, Major Heyland led the 40th Regiment to its position on the battlefield 9 and 10 a.m. after a short march. The Regiment remained as support until 2 p.m. at the farm of Mont St. Jean. It was then advanced towards the farm of La Haye Saint, taking position on the opposite side of the road. The foot soldier, Sgt William Lawrence, who also served in the 40th Regiment wrote later in his diary of the Battle of Waterloo: “The rain had not quite ceased and the fields and roads were in such a fearfully muddy state, they slowed and tired us. In such conditions it was difficult for the cavalry to perform properly, but they were even worse for the artillery.” For hours they were forced to remain stationary, sometimes in line, sometimes in square according to whether it was enemy infantry or cavalry that they had to resist. They suffered great losses. At last, at about 7 p.m. the Duke of Wellington himself rode up to the Regiment and gave the command to advance. With a cheer the line moved forward to clear the enemy from the farm buildings. Here Heyland was killed, by a ball in the neck. His sword had previously been shattered, his horse wounded and for the greater part of the day he had been riding bareheaded, his cap having probably also been shot away. He was 34.
Inscribed on a Memorial at St Patrick's Church, Coleraine, are the following words:
“Sacred to the memory of Arthur Rowley Heyland, of Ballintemple, in the county, late Major in the 40th Regiment of Foot, in which he served with distinguished honour under the Duke of Wellington through the whole Peninsular War, filling during that period many situations of trust connected with his profession. On the memorable 18th June 1815, while in command of the Regiment in the act of leading his battalion to conquest, he fell in the moment of victory on the field of Waterloo, and was there instantly removed by his brother officers with affectionate zeal and regret. His remains were deposited in a garden at Monte St. Jean, where they lie under a tomb subsequently erected by his afflicted widow. Whether as son, brother, husband, father, friend or soldier, his whole career throughout life may be delineated in the characteristic simplicity of his disposition in these few words - He knew his duty and he did it.”
Heyland’s grave remained for 150 years near a farm in the village of Mont St Jean, within a few yards of the main Brussels Road, marked by a monument erected by the Regiment and surrounded by iron railings put in place to protect it by his widow Mary. The inscription reads:
Sacred to the memory of Major Arthur Rowley Heyland of his Britannick Majesty's Fortieth Regiment of Foot who was buried on this spot. He fell gloriously in the Battle of Waterloo the 18th of June 1815 at the moment of victory and in command of the regiment. Age 34 years.
In the article "A Sunday at Waterloo", published in the St. James's Budget of 23 June 1893, it is described as “shaded by a lilac tree and surrounded by purple pansies and jasmine.” The stone was still in perfect condition and the lettering distinct but repairs were needed to the iron rail surrounding. The article recommended the “removal of a privy which is far too near the grave for decency”. The War Graves Commission declined to assist because at the time the “powers conferred on the Commission under their charter” were “limited to the graves of those who fell in the recent war”.
In 1923, there were a number of letters exchanged between Arthur’s grandson, H. K. Heyland and others regarding the grave. Arthur’s son, then grandson, paid an amount annually to the landowner for its upkeep. Sometime after this, Arthur’s monument was removed for safekeeping to the Wellington Museum at Waterloo, Belgium. Among the letters of 1923 is a letter to H. K. Heyland from an F. F. Adam in which he says the 40th regiment have a portrait of Major Heyland “obviously from a miniature”. It was painted at Toulouse after the Battle of the Pyrenees.
Major Heyland was awarded the small gold medal for Vitoria and the Waterloo medal.
With thanks to Barbara Anstie for her contribution
Though difficult to see, Maj. Heyland is wearing his gold medal, awarded for Vitoria. The portrait was probably painted after his return to England in 1814.
Heyland’s Gold Medal, Waterloo medal and the musket ball that killed him. The inscription on the brass plaque reads:
Major Arthur Rowley Heyland
Kill’d in Command of 40th Regt Waterloo
18th June, 1815