Open main menu


GRAHAM, JAMES (1791–1845), army pensioner, one of the recipients of the Norcross annuity to Waterloo soldiers, was born in 1791 at Cloona, co. Monaghan, Ireland, and in 1813 joined the Coldstream guards, in the second battalion of which regiment he greatly distinguished himself as a lance-sergeant at the battle of Waterloo. In August 1815 the Rev. John Norcross, who a couple of years previously had been appointed rector of Framlingham, Suffolk, wrote to the Duke of Wellington, offering to settle an annuity of 10l. for life, to be called the 'Wellington Pension,' and paid annually on 18 June, 'on any one of my brave countrymen who fought under your grace in the late tremendous but glorious conflict' (Wellington Suppl. Desp. xi. 35). The duke's answers, cordially accepting the offer, are given in Gurwood (Wellington Desp. viii. 222, 249). Eventually, after reference to Colonel (afterwards General Sir James) Macdonell, who had commanded at Hougomont, the key of the duke's position at Waterloo, two annuitants were selected, viz.: Lance-sergeant James Graham, Coldstream guards, and Private Joseph Lester, 3rd foot guards. Graham's claim is stated thus: 'Assisted Lieutenant-colonel Macdonell in closing the gates, which had been left open for the purpose of communication, and which the enemy were in the act of forcing. His brother, a corporal in the regiment, was lying wounded in a barn, which was on fire, and Graham removed him so as to be secure from the fire, and then returned to his duty. He had been 3 years in the regiment' (Wellington Suppl. Desp. xi. 121). The annuities were paid for two years, and then ceased on the bankruptcy of Mr. Norcross, who died in April 1837. Graham continued in the Coldstreams, and is stated (Nav. and Mil. Gazette, May 1845) to have been the man who saved the life of Captain (afterwards Lord Frederick) Fitzclarence at the seizure of the Cato Street conspirators. Graham was discharged from the guards after eight and a half years' service therein. He subsequently re-enlisted in the 12th royal lancers, and served in that corps nine and a half years as private. He was discharged 'with an injured chest and worn out,' to a Chelsea out-pension of nine-pence per day, on 13 July 1830, his character being 'very good, and distinguished by gallant conduct at Waterloo.' He was admitted an in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin, 1 July 1841, and died there 28 April 1845.

[Gurwood's Wellington Desp. vol. viii. and Well. Suppl. Desp. vol. xi.; also Siborne's Waterloo, i. 391-2. The above appears to be the correct version of the Norcross gift. Other versions have been published, the popular one being thut Mr. Norcross left a sum of money to the Duke of Wellington, in trust for the 'bravest man in the army;' that the duke selected General Sir James Macdonell to receive it. and that Macdonell shared it with Sergeant Graham. The statement of Graham's services has been furnished by the courtesy of the secretary from the books of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.]

H. M. C.