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Waterloo Medal (18th June), 1815: CM.1451-2009

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Mint: London
Ruler: George IV (1820-30) (Struck in the name of)
Artist: Wyon, Thomas
Ruler: George III (1760-1820) (Inferred)
Ruler: George P. Regent (With the title of)




Most of the battles of the Napoleonic Wars, except those fought by Admiral Horatio Nelson, were not commemorated with the issue of medals at the time they were fought; instead combatants had to wait until 1848 to receive the Military or Naval General Service Medal. Almost the sole exception was the final defeat of the returned Emperor Napoleon I at Waterloo, on 18 June 1815 by the combined forces of Britain, Russia and Prussia. Napoleon's tactical planning was thwarted by the inability of his subordinate Maréchal Ney to shift the army of General Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, from their positions, preventing the separation of the Coalition forces which thus continued to resist Napoleon's rapidly-raised forces and were eventually able to overturn the French tactical advantage and drive the Emperor from the field.
The battle has become an archetype of decisive defeat and the phrase "to meet one's Waterloo" has passed into the language. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that a medal was awarded to all British soldiers who had fought at Waterloo, or the two immediately prior battles at Ligny and Quatre Bras on 16 and 17 June respectively. Such an award was however unprecedented at the time. Soldiers present at these battles were also credited with two years' extra service to count for all purposes.
This medal was awarded to Private Hugh Gormley of the 6th or Inniskilling Dragoons; its award has been confirmed from the relevant Roll. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928. It had previously been sold by the recipient's niece in November 1866, by which time she was living in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and believed herself to be Gormley's only surviving kin.
The Museum thanks Mr Sean Welch for information on the history of this medal.


History note: Gift of L. Hoyt Watson; ex Lester Watson Collection, bt before 1928. Sold by recipient's niece in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, November 1866.

Legal notes

Given by Lester Watson through Cambridge in America, 2009

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 36 mm
Weight: 37.66 g

Place(s) associated

  • London

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2009) by Watson, Lester


Production date: AD 1815

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of George facing left wreathed

  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Victory seated on plinth above panel inscribed "WATERLOO"; exergue inscribed "JUNE 18 / 1815"

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.1451-2009
Primary reference Number: 141545
Watson Catalogue: 374
Ordering: M-0334
Previous object number: LW.0334
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 15 January 2024 Last processed: Monday 15 January 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Waterloo Medal (18th June), 1815" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-22 04:38:38

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