Book detailing Waterloo payouts going under hammer

By Toby Neal | News | Published:

A rare manuscript detailing the prize money granted for the Battle of Waterloo and capture of Paris in 1815 is expected to sell for more than £2,000 when it comes up for auction in Shropshire.

Going under the hammer - the prize money book

Running to 70 pages, the manuscript is written in a neat secretarial hand and contains detailed numbers of all the troops of Britain, The Netherlands, Hanover and Brunswick that fought in the battle. For example, Britain had 753 captains and 42,540 rank and file.

The book, which contains copies of letters concerning the distribution of prize money from Wellington, Bathurst, Baron Constant and Colonel Heise, will be sold in fine art auctioneers Halls’ books sale in Shrewsbury on October 25.

“Apparently, it was common practice to award prize money after a victorious battle,” said Chris Moore, Halls’ book consultant.

“It was meant to be an incentive to fight aggressively and a deterrent against looting.

“Some of the information contained in the book is already known, including the payout to various ranks, as it would have been published in the London Gazette. However, other information contained in the volume may not be easily available elsewhere, if at all.

“I can find nothing similar in manuscript about this or any other battle.

"The Battle of Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in history, pitting the two greatest generals of the day, Wellington and Napoleon, against one another. It also settled the map of Europe for the next century.”

The total sum available following the battle was £1,030,769 4s 7d and, after expenses, £978,850 15s 4d was distributed in prize money. Generals were awarded £1,274 10s 10d 3 farthings and rank and file soldiers £2 11s 4d.


“Approximately one third of the book concerns sums retained,” added Mr Moore. “There is a list of 220 soldiers from the second to sixth classes listed by name and rank, with additional remarks in some cases. These unclaimed or rejected claims were paid to Chelsea Hospital by cheque on February 4,1818, in the sum of £26,531 3s 6d farthing.”

The book has contemporary red morocco gilt, with all edges gilt, the lower cover is detached and paper is watermarked 1815. It was purchased by the vendor 50 years ago with a collection of Just William and Biggles books for £5.

The sale also includes a selection of motoring books including pre-war bound volumes of The Autocar and The Motor. There are several lots of books and exhibition catalogues on modern artists, a selection of Shropshire books and boxes of leather bindings.

Collectors of memorabilia related to comedian Max Miller (1894-1963) will be interested in a rent book issued to one of his tenants in the 1950s, which he signed 22 times.

The tenant was N. Levy of 52, Stoke Newington Road, N16, and entries are dated between March 1952 and February 1954.

Known as ‘The Cheeky Chappie’, Miller was widely regarded as the best stand-up comedian of his generation. The book is expected to sell for around £100.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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