Henry Percy was one of the few members of the 14th (The Duchess of Yorks Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons to fight at the Battle of Waterloo. He transferred to the 14th Dragoons as a Captain and was brevetted Major in 1810. He was present at the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo.
He was captured in 1812 during the retreat from Burgos and spent two years as a prisoner in France. Following Napoleon’s exile to Elba in 1815, he was released.
He was one of only three of Wellington’s ADCs that came out of the battle almost unscathed while all the other ADCs were killed or wounded.
At the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball he left his lady partner like all the other officers present, but not before she gave him a keepsake, a velvet ladies’ bag, which he stuffed into the inside of his coat.
After the battle he was given the task of delivering Wellington’s despatch to the Prince Regent, along with two captured French Eagles. He dashed to Ostend with the despatch tucked into the ladies’ velvet bag and caught the brig Peruvian to Dover, but the wind failed them, and he had to continue in the captain’s gig, which he helped row. A chaise and four raced him to London, with changes of horses at Canterbury, Sittingbourne and Rochester.
The eagles on their flagpoles were protruding out of the window, and the post-boys yelled the news of the victory. He reported to Lord Castlereagh first of all, and then sought out the Prince Regent who was at a ball in St James’s Square. The exhausted messenger made a dramatic entrance into the ballroom in his bloodstained and dirty dress uniform (having not had time to change after the Brussels ball) and flung the eagles at the Prince’s feet, gasping out breathlessly, ‘Victory, Sire, Victory!’ The Prince read the despatch and wept as he saw the list of dead officers. He rewarded Percy with the CB and promotion to lieutenant-colonel. He died 8 years later at the age of 40.
He was born on 14 Sep 1785 and died on 15 Sep 1825. He was the 6th child, out of 10, of Algernon Percy, 1st Earl of Beverley and Susan Isabella Burrell. Algernon’s father was Hugh Percy, 1st Dike of Northumberland. He first appeared in the army list of the 14th Light Dragoons in 1811 as a captain but disappears after 1821.