Like so many areas of the country, Launceston shared in the nation’s fight against the French during the Napoleonic wars with many of the French prisoners of War being billeted in the town. Many of the prisoners were skilled craftsmen. If time hung heavily on their hands they turned to making objects from the materials they had about them (some of which can be seen on display at the Lawrence House Museum).
There were at least eight weddings that are recorded in the St. Mary Magdalene registers, between French prisoners and Launceston women with the first taking place on November 18th, 1807, between Michael Justin Herimon, a surgeon of the French Navy, and Mary Prout Lenn. This was followed in 1808 by Yves Piere Marie Lemoine, and Jane Greed on July 10th, and John Baptiste Babron, and Armenel Davy on October 22nd. In 1809, John Joseph Gustave Alexander Acme Perrinet, and Mary Kenner, on January 14th, Augustin Bullot, and Deborah Harvey, on February 19th, Augustus Merie Reimel de Korene, and Ann Doan, on September 12th, Pierre Noblet, and Elizabeth Bray, on October 16th. The final wedding recorded was on January 26th, 1812, between Charles Phildebert Dupenchey, and Rebecca Spear.
Many from the district went off to fight with the Navy or Army but due to scant information only five can be remembered for their service, two of whom fought at ‘Waterloo.’
The first name is that of 2nd Captain William Webber who fought with Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular Campaign and the Battle of Waterloo, at which he was severely wounded. Captain Webber was buried in Stowford Church at the age of 59, beside his parents after dying at the home of his brother in Hexworthy near Lawhitton. There is a book available on his experiences during the Peninsular Campaign called ‘With the Guns in the Peninsular.’
The second is George Brimmell who served with the British Army, belonging to the Royal Sappers and Miners, and had seen action with his corps at ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ and had entered Paris subsequent to the victory. He had been invalided out on a modest pension in 1819 and was the leading representative for all other likewise pensioners in the district. George passed away in 1877 at the age of 83.
Joseph Vosper, son of Joseph Vosper and born in 1773 at Launceston was a prisoner of war in 1811 being held in the Arras Depot. (He possibly married Ann Reed at St. Mary’s in 1809).
Also in 1811, George Kitto, son of Richard and Elizabeth Kitto, and born in 1772 at Launceston, and Edward Coombs, were being held as prisoners of war at Sarre Libre Depot. Thomas Pearn of Launceston, was also a prisoner of war at this time, possibly being detained at Beseancon Depot.
Others that served during the wars. (Some of the information is of soldiers who were registered for potential service in the Cornwall Militia and the Sea Fencibles in the years 1780 to 1831).
Major Samuel Archer (b. 22 February 1745, Trelaske, Lewannick) of the Launceston Volunteer Force, commissioned to become Major. Only to take the rank when the corps was called into active service on 9 June 1794.
William Coombe, labourer (b. 1779. St Stephens by Launceston), was a substitute in place of John Mullis in 1798.
Richard Isbell, labourer (b. 1780, St Stephens by Launceston), was a substitute in place of Hugh Isaac in 1798.
William Oak, musician, was a substitute in 1781.
See also Those that fought in the 1812 War.