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From John Gray Private 33rd Regiment

John Gray was born at All Saints in Northamptonshire in 1789 and became a frame-work knitter until he joined the 33rd Foot at Dublin on 2 April 1813 at the age of 24. He was promoted to corporal within 24 days and to sergeant within three months! He was reduced to private in 1818, became a corporal again in 1819 and returned to a sergeant in 1820. He retired in 1837.He was 5 foot 6¾ inches tall, with light hair and grey eyes.


To Mr Gray, at the Bishop, Granby Street, Leicester


Lewes 22 August 1809

Dear Father & Mother

I take this opportunity to inform you that I am in good health at present thank God for it. The same afternoon that I sent my last letter to William we received a rout to march to Lewes and I think we are very likely to stay here a long time as our officers are so very intimate with the general who commands the district and we like this place very well. We was reviewed by the Prince of Wales on his birthday the 12 of August who was pleased to bestow the highest praise of the discipline of the regiment. You will please to send me word. If you hare [sic] all in good health and how Benjamin goes on in his business and wether William is any fonder of soldiering then he was, with any news you have at Leicester. The Leicester Militia are gone to Portsmouth so that I have never heard of James Todd since they left Hastings shall be glad to hear from you as soon as you can conveniently send so I remain your dutiful Son, John Gray



To Mr. William Gray, George Street, Leicester

Windsor 2nd June 1813

Dear Brother,

I take the earliest opportunity to inform you that I arrived at the regiment in good health on the 31st May and but very little fatigued I stayed at Haddon till Saturday afternoon and a very

pleasant visit I had, they was all extremely glad to see me and made me very comfortable indeed and desired me to give their best respects to you and all relations at Leicester and Wigston. You will please to give my love to father, mother, brother and sister and respects to all relations and enquiring friends particularly Mr and Mrs Thorpe and Mary and likewise Mr, Mrs and Thomas Langton Mr and Mrs Abbot and all who may enquire after me. I called to see Daniel Archer and Martha at Northampton our relations are all tolerable good in health in Northamptonshire. You will please to write as

soon as possible convenient and direct for Sergeant Gray, Captain Haigh’s Company 33rd Regiment [of] Foot, Windsor Berks. I have nothing more of importance to inform you of at this time so I subscribe myself your ever loving brother, John Gray


To Mr William Gray, Albion Lane, Leicester


Hilsea Barracks 4 January 1819


Dear Brother,

I have delayed writing to you in expectation of being removed from this place but it seems this is to be our quarters for the winter, it is about three miles from Portsmouth. I have heard nothing more about my discharge at present but am now about to renew my application to the commander in chief for paying the twenty pounds and should I not succeed I have hopes of promotion again as Captain Hewett132 sent for me a few days ago previous to his going on leave of absence and told me that his on his return to the regiment he would either get me promotion or put something in my way that would be as well but as I have set my mind on coming home. I had rather have my discharge as a situation in this regiment is of precarious [nature], but I was very thankful for his good offer and to find he was still my friend. I explained to him my reasons for not accepting the furlough at Nottingham and he was perfectly satisfied on that account. Your sister has been unwell almost ever since we have been here, her mother urgently requests her to go to Sunderland for a while but she will not go at present. Our duty here is not that hard but thank God I am very well. We had a very good march to this place the weather proving more of favourable than could have been expected at that time of the year. We halted at Bishop Waltham fifteen miles from here until the barracks was vacated, Mrs Gray joins with me in love to mother and all at home and you are to give Henry a kiss for her, likewise respects to all relations and friends at Leicester. Direct as usual at Hilsea Barracks Hants Yours x J Gray


From John Gray Sergeant 33rd Regiment


To Mr William Gray, Albion Street, Leicester, England


Dublin 1st April 1821


Dear Brother,

I now take the opportunity of acquainting you with our arrival in Dublin and as it is now so long since we heard from you hope you will not delay writing to let us know how you all get on at Leicester. Mary Ann has been very unwell since we have been here but hope she is getting better, we are very uncomfortable here at present with respects to barracks, owing to a number of veterans wanting to be discharged and who are now occupying the barracks allotted to us. And there is a report very current amongst us that we shall very soon be ordered to Cork, to embark for some of the islands in the Mediterranean, but if there is any foundation for the report it is kept secret except to the commanding officer but I really [think] it very probably should such an occurrence take place [I] shall not fail to give you information of it as soon as it is published to us. Pray give our joint love to mother, brother Benjamin, sister and family, hope you together with the children are all well. You may just direct as before with the alteration Dublin. I have no news, only the interest of the public is now transferred from the Queen’s business, the Catholic Bill now before the House of Commons and which now

produces us much party debate pro & con among politicians as the former subject did. Hoping to hear from you soon I remain, yours sincerely John Gray.


From John Gray Colour Sergeant 33rd Regiment


To Mr William Gray, Albion Street, Leicester, England


Buttevant, 30 October 1821


Dear Brother,

I was just on the point of writing to you when I received yours this morning to acquaint you with the circumstances that have occurred since I wrote you last. I found on rejoining the regiment at Fermoy, that Captain Pagan133 had given up the depot and in consequence another sergeant with a large family had been appointed to remain with it. Pending I had to go with the regiment I took the coach accompanied by your sister to Cork and there laid in a good sea stock of provisions together with a quantity of flannel and other things necessary for the preservation of health in a hot climate. This was on Saturday of the 20th. On Sunday morning the general commanding the district, Sir John Lambert134 assembled the regiment in the Barrack Square paid us a very great compliment on our appearance and general character and wished us success leaving the arrangements for the embarkation to the commanding officer each company being previously appointed to their respective transports. In the evening all were in a bustle packing and loading the baggage to accompany the 1st division which was ordered to march early the following morning for embarkation at the Cove of Cork, all being nearly done a route arrives for seven companies to march the next morning to this place in consequence of the disturbed state of the country. The embarkation postponed or countermanded until further orders this you will be aware was a great and I believe I may say an agreeable surprise. we have since sent out small detachments all over the County of Kerr; this is in the County of Cork, a small dead place but excellent barracks. Mary Ann had decided on going home for a while, dreading the long voyage and in compliance with the

particular wish and earnest entreaties of her mother until I found how the Indies agreed with me I cannot say. I apprehend any bad consequence from the climate being thin and perspiring

a great deal in hot weather, but whether this move will put aside the embarkation altogether or only for a month or two is quite uncertain but [I] shall write when any alteration takes place. We are both well and pretty comfortable at present. I am doing duty as quarter master sergeant. Your sister joins with me in love to mother, sister and family. Benjamin also hopes this will find you all well, with respect to her coming to Leicester she thanks you for the invitation, but the distance being so very great she cannot decide upon coming at present but she will constantly communicate with you. I believe this is all I have to say at present only our best wishes to you and all of you and remain dear brother, yours most truly John Gray. I received all three of your letters altogether at Fermoy


No. 12

To Mr William Gray, George Street, Leicester


Antwerp May 1814

Dear Brother,

Having an opportunity of addressing a few lines to you, I have the pleasure of informing you that I am through the blessing of divine providence in perfect health and hope this will find you and family the same. I was very sorry to hear by your last letter of the death of your lovely Eliza but I have no doubt but you will consider that it is the will of him who knows what is better for us short sighted mortals than we ourselves, which must be a great consolation to you. I suppose you have heard before now of the entrance of the British Army into Antwerp on the 5 January, the brigade our regiment is attached to was the first brigade that entered the city and the 33rd and 54th Regiment took the garrison duty for the day. I relieved a guard of one sergeant and 12 privates of the French at one of the outer gates. There were a great many of the French in the town when we entered but most of them marched out in a few days after. There are several French ships of war and a great many on the stocks building. I hope the great change of affairs in Europe will make an alteration for the better in regard to your trade and the price of provisions, as it is what has been very much wanted in England a long time.

We have been under orders for Ireland, we suppose for America, but that order has been countermanded and we received another order to march to Ostend to embark for England before we came to this place. But I suppose that is likewise countermanded but I think if affairs is not soon settled with America that we shall most likely go there. A great many of the men are in high spirits expecting their discharges but I shall not apply for mine if we go to England as I am very well off w[he]ere I am. My captain [h]as given me the payment and charges of the company since the 24th January for which I have nearly 6d per day extra to the other sergeants and he has promised me a Colour the first vacancy which will be 6 [pence] more besides perqusites which will be nearly 1£ per week, equal to half as much more, which you who know everything to pay for at the full value. When you write again please to inform me what arguing you have had in [respect?] the country and what news you [have?] as it is very seldom I can see and [read the?] paper and these country papers I [have?] learnt to read enough to understand [some?] of them though I can understand these [now?] pretty well. Please to give my [love to?] father, mother brother & sister and respects to all relations and enquiring friends and inform them that I expect being in England very soon if it is for a short time onl.y Our prisoners of war which was taken at Bergen op Zoom have joined us again and a great many of the wounded. When you write please to direct 33rd Regiment British Army Antwerp, Gray Sergeant 33rd Brabant. Yours Sincerely



To Mr William Gray, George Street, Leicester, England

Antwerp 31 July 1814

Dear Brother,

I am rather surprised at not receiving a line from you since my last and am afraid that some miscarriage [h]as taken place in our correspondence. I did indeed hear from mother in Corporal

Bosworth’s letter but not a word from you. I should have wrote sooner but I wished to have an opportunity of sending a draft for two or three pounds to father & mother but my money lies in the company and I have been forced to expend what I had to supply the men with necessaries and have not yet had [it] return[ed]. I have pretty near twenty pounds in men of the company which I pay and it is as good as if I had it in my own hands as all the pay of the company goes through my hands, but I do not like to press upon my captain for it at once, but I think I shall draw some on account in a few days at farthest the next time we settle which will be about the middle of the month and I shall not forget them. I am not at all afraid of being discharged as ours is a single battalion and I think we shall sooner be filled up than reduced. It is very probable we shall be ordered to America if that business is not settled soon and I am happy to inform you that my conduct while in the 33rd Regiment not only gained me the confidence of my officers but the respect of the men under my command

August the 1st. The 1st Regiment of Guards are leaving Antwerp this morning for Brussels and the 2nd &3rd Regiments expect to move in a day or two while we shall follow them as belonging to the same division. I cannot learn at present but you may direct as normal until you hear from me again. You will be kind enough to send me what news you hear at Leicester at any convenience you may and give any my love to father & mother and respects to all relations and inform them I am exceeding well & shall be very glad to hear from any of them. Corporal Bosworth sends his respects to his relations at Leicester which you will be kind enough to make known to them. I am yours truly Gray

To Mr William Gray, George Street, Leicester, England


Ath 13 April 1815


Dear Brother,

I had the pleasure of receiving your letter on the march from Tournai to this place and was glad to hear you was in pretty good health though sorry to hear that your trade is likely to be so very bad & am very much afraid it will not be better at present. Dear brother what an alteration in the affairs of Europe since I wrote last. Everything was peace and quietness now we are prepared for the most active war. Our regiment left Menin on the 22nd March since which time we have not been settled any where for long together, but almost always on the march backward & forwards. Forming and changing brigades the Royal family of France passed through Menin and Courtrai while we was there, the people of Menin assembled and received the King with acclamations of Vive la Roi meaning Live the King, but he shed

tears while he thanked them. Our baggage of all descriptions is sent to the rear to Ostend, not a wheel carriage is allowed to be seen on the line of march except the general commanding brigades or divisions

and the commissariat stores. I have been forced to send my box to Ostend, likewise I have nothing

now left but what I carry on my back, but that is not much. I have sent everything away but 3 shirts, 3 pair of stockings 2 pair of boots & a few brushes as the captain carries my books on his horse. In leaving Menin I left the best home I ever had since I left you, I was five month [billeted?] in one house and though the regiment changed billet twice, yet the people offered me any room in their house without a billet if [I] would not leave them and on our marching made me a present of a very handsome gold ring to keep in

remembrance of them. I am through the mercy of God in exceeding good health & as comfortable as I can expect in the present situation of affairs. As I do not expect to stay here long when you write please to direct 33rd Regiment 1st Brigade 1st Division British Army, Flanders. You will please to give my love to father, mother & brother Benjamin, sister and family and relations. The Information you received of my being wounded last winter is unfounded, I received no further injury than on our retreat from Bergen op Zoom, a ball nearly spent struck the side of my foot but, a lump of ice prevented it from penetrating my boot & I received no more hurt than a bruising. Sergeant Robinson sends his love to his father & mother and is sorry to hear of his brother’s misfortune but hopes he will make himself as contented as possible in his present situation. I have no more at present of any importance, but remain your loving brother, J Gray

PS the young man who sleeps with me135 and cleans my accoutrements is from [unreadable]

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