Waterloo connections at Plas Newydd

First Marquess of Anglesey proudly standing next to his beloved horse © John Hammond

First Marquess of Anglesey proudly standing next to his beloved horse

One of Plas Newydd's most famous family members, Henry William Paget, played an important role in the Battle of Waterloo. Henry lost his leg in the fighting and his wooden leg is on display at Plas Newydd today. It's also because of this battle that the title 'Marquess of Anglesey' exists, so what's the story?

Henry Paget, commander of the Allied cavalry

On June 18, 1815, the Duke of Wellington was able to beat off Napoleon and win what became known as the Battle of Waterloo. This was due in no small part to the efforts of the Allied cavalry and their commander, Henry Paget 2nd Earl of Uxbridge, who later became the 1st Marquess of Anglesey.

Commencing into battle

The day had started badly for Henry, when a charge of Allied cavalry was badly defeated by French forces. Initially successful, the charge had swept away thousands of French infantry. Unfortunately Henry allowed himself to be carried away by the excitement of the fight and was not in a position to recall or support the Allied cavalry as it galloped on, out of control, towards the French lines. Henry never forgave himself for this error which cost many Allied cavalrymen their lives.

Determined to make amends, Henry led the remains of the cavalry in numerous other charges, acting with supreme bravery and professionalism. These acts earned Henry great respect and even drew grudging praise from an unfriendly Duke of Wellington.

Losing his leg

Despite this, the day ended in tragedy for Henry when his right leg was amputated after being hit by cannon shot. Henry was left with a wooden leg for the rest of his days. He was the first person to receive a fully articulated wooden leg, with a hinged knee and ankle, later known as the 'Anglesey leg'. If you'd like to see the leg, it's on display at Plas Newydd.

Awarded for his bravery

Henry was awarded the title of 1st Marquess of Anglesey for his involvement in the Battle of Waterloo. Later the local community at Llanfairpwll near Plas Newydd raised funds to build a commemorative memorial, the Marquess' column. After his death, a bronze statue of the 1st Marquess was placed on the column, which stands proudly greeting visitors to Anglesey as they cross the bridge from the mainland.

Want to know more about the 'Anglesey leg'?

A few years ago we put together a video clip about the leg and how it works, have a look at it here if you want to find out more.