Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ellis, Henry Walton

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ELLIS, Sir HENRY WALTON (1783–1815), colonel, was son of Major-general Joyner Ellis, and grandson of J. Joyner of Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Major-general Joyner Ellis took the name Ellis in consequence of his adoption by 'Governor' Henry Ellis [q. v.], lieutenant-governor of Georgia, 1758, who resided for some time at Lansdowne Place, Bath, and died at Naples in 1806. Joyner Ellis served successively in the 18th, old 89th, and 41st foot, became lieutenant-colonel 23rd royal Welsh fusileers in 1793, major-general 1798. and died 1804. He represented the city of Worcester in parliament for some years. By his wife, whose maiden name was Walton, he had several children, the eldest of whom, Henry Walton Ellis, was born at Worcester in 1783, and immediately appointed to an ensigncy in the 89th foot, of which Joyner Ellis was major. The regiment, which had been chiefly recruited about Worcester, was disbanded at the peace a few months later, and the baby was put on half-pay; but brought on full pay again as an ensign, at the age of five, in the 41st foot, of which Joyner Ellis had been appointed major on its reorganisation in 1787. Young Ellis became a lieutenant 4lst foot in 1792, and captain 23rd fusileers 20 Jan. 1796. Joining the latter corps, a boy-captain of barely fourteen, he served with it in the descent on Ostend in 1708, in North Holland in 1799 (wounded), in the Channel, at Ferrol and in the Mediterranean in 1800, in Egypt in 1801 (wounded, gold medal and rank of major), in Hanover in 1805, and at Copenhagen in 1807. A youthful veteran of twenty-five, he succeeded to the command of the first battalion of his regiment, without purchase, in Nova Scotia in 1808, and commanded it in the expedition against Martinique in 1809, where at the siege of Fort Bourbon he offered to take the flints out of his men's firelocks and carry the works with his fusileers at the point of the bayonet, a daring enterprise, which the commander-in-chief. Sir George Beckwith [q. v.], refused to sanction (see Cannon, Hist. Rec. 23rd Fusileers, pp. 132-134). He proceeded with his battalion to Portugal in 1810, and commanded it through the succeeding campaigns in the Peninsula and south of France, during which he repeatedly distinguished himself, particularly at Albuhera on the occasion of the historic charge of the fusileer brigade, at the siege of Badajos in 1812 (wounded), and in the desperate fighting at the pass of Roncesvalles, in the Pyrenees, 28 July 1813 (ib. pp. 146-147). For his Peninsular services he was promoted to colonel and made a K.C.B. Under his command the royal Welsh fusileers joined the Duke of Wellington's army on the field of Waterloo the night before the battle, having made a forced march from Grammont. They were in reserve during the greater part of 18 June, but were brought up into the front line on the left later in the day, and received several French charges in square. Here Ellis received a musket-ball through the right breast. Feeling faint he rode out of the square towards the rear, but in getting over a little ditch fell from his horse and sustained further injuries. He was carried to a neighbouring hovel and his wounds dressed. In the evening of the 19th, after the army had moved on, the hut took fire. Ellis was rescued with great difficulty by Assistant-surgeon Munro of his regiment, but not before he had received severe burns, to which he succumbed on the morning of 20 June 1815. He was buried at Waterloo. The officers and men of the royal Welsh fusileers subsequently placed a monument to his memory in Worcester Cathedral at a cost of 1,200l.

Ellis never married (Notices of the Ellises, p. 154). He left two sons, to whom the Duke of Wellington gave commissions. Of these the younger, Henry, died young on passage home from India. The elder, Francis Joyner Ellis, died a major in the 62nd foot at Moulmein in 1840. On his death the name of Ellis was assumed by a surviving brother of Major-general John Joyner Ellis, William Joyner, many years coroner of Gloucestershire.

[Ellis's Notices of the Ellis's of England and France, 1855-66 (printed privately), pp. 138,154; Annual Army Lists, in most of which the name is incorrectly given as Henry 'Watson' Ellis; Cannon's Hist. Rec. 23rd Royal Welsh Fusileers; Napier's Hist. Peninsular War; London Gazettes, various.]

H. M. C.