Saturday, 20 October 2012

A 'Waterloo Man' at the world's end

On a recent trip to Tasmania I had the opportunity to visit an old friend who I first met in 1992 – Barracks Sargent Philip Maher, c. 1791–1847 CE.

Maher awaits Gabriel's Trumpet at the original burial ground in Ross, a garrison town in the midlands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania). The military presence had an important impact in the early days of Ross with a number of the early buildings around the town having military origins and several streets are named after battles of the Napoleonic wars. Some of the soldiers stationed at Ross were veterans of these campaigns.

Among them is Philip Maher of the 51 Regiment of Foot, The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Maher ended his days in Ross as the Barracks Sargent but his headstone records his military service noting him as being a Waterloo Man and a veteran of the Peninsular Campaign.

There is a very good image of the text on the headstone here

The old burial ground at Ross is a very atmospheric spot on a quiet day – the graves sit on a stoney hilltop in a quiet valley in central Tasmania. The only sound is the grass swishing in the wind as one sits in quiet reflection.

A good photo gallery for the burial ground can be found here

Since my last visit the inscription seems to deteriorated considerably but is still legible. 


To The Memory


Philip Maher

Who departed this life

On 31st March AD 1847
and served as Quarter master
Sargent in the 51 KOLI
During a long campaign on the
Peninsular and Waterloo
and Late Barrack Sargent
At Ross
AGED 56 Years

Its my intention to follow up what history I can of Maher given little is currently provided in the guidebooks at Ross. An initial search of the newspapers of the time has Maher forwarding a donation to St Joseph’s Church - the oldest Catholic Church in Hobart. A letter from Maher printed in the Colonial Times of Hobart, records this donation from the men of the Regiment towards the construction of St. Josephs - possibly assisting with the construction of the 60 foot tower of the church which was completed in 1843.

Colonial Times, Hobart, 22 March 1842, page 3
More to come ...

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