Henry Rishton Buck (13th January 1788 - 18th June 1815)

Born in Kirkham, Lancashire on 13th January 1788 to Charles Buck and Alice (nee Ormond), Henry Rishton Buck was baptised at St Michael’s, Kirkham three days later.

Henry’s father was a curate at various parishes across North Lancashire and was in fact at least the fifth generation of the family to serve within the clergy. It was this service to the church that had brought the Buck family to Kirkham from Norfolk in 1744, when Henry’s grandfather, also named Charles, was appointed as Vicar of St Michael’s.

James Buck, who was Henry’s great-great-great-grandfather was originally from Suffolk and had been one of a number of clergymen to address the House of Lords at the time of the restoration of King Charles II in 1660. His son Charles (Henry’s great-great-grandfather) and grandson Charles (Henry’s great-grandfather) worked in various parishes in Norfolk, before Henry’s grandfather moved North.

Henry can also trace his ancestry back through Kirkham’s past down the line of his paternal grandmother Alice Dickson. Alice had married local man Jeoffrey Rishton, but upon his death she met Henry’s grandfather Charles Buck and remarried, having a son Charles (Henry’s father). Alice was the daughter of a former vicar of St Michael’s by the name of William Dickson, who can trace his ancestry back to the Bradekirke family whose roots lie deep in Kirkham.

Henry was educated at Kirkham Grammar School and Cambridge University, before being commissioned into the army as a lieutenant in the 33rd Regiment of Foot in around 1809. Henry served for a number of years, before global events took the 33rd to Belgium in the spring of 1815 as part of the Duke of Wellington’s army.

The 33rd fought in the successful holding action at Quatre Bras on the 16th of June, before spending the 17th withdrawing to Waterloo with the main body of Wellington’s forces. On the day of the Battle of Waterloo itself the unit was at the centre of Wellington’s lines, behind the ridgeline in between the crucial farm houses of Le Haie Saint and Hougemont. 

Wellington had chosen an excellent defensive position and he knew that he must hold his ground until his Prussian allies could arrive to support him. Throughout the day French cavalry probed at the English lines, forcing Wellington’s regiments to form defensive squares which made inviting targets for Napoleon’s artillery, which was numerous and deadly accurate. The 33rd lost nearly half of its number in the fighting at Waterloo, but the English were able to hold their lines and by the time the Prussians arrived at around 7pm Napoleon’s forces were all but defeated.

Amongst the casualties on the day were Lt. Henry Rishton Buck, who was at the time aged 27. It is not known exactly how he died or where he is buried, but a lasting memorial can be found in the church of St Michael in Kirkham, where he is commemorated along with his younger brother James who was also an army officer, also died in 1815 and is buried within the church yard at Kirkham.

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