Napoleonic Prisoners of War

in & around

Bishop’s Waltham

by Barbara Biddell

Paperback: 80 pages

Publisher: Two Plus George Ltd (7 Jul 2007)

Language English

ISBN-10: 0955622808

ISBN-13: 978-0955622809

Price: £6.99

During the French and Napoleonic Wars in the early nineteenth century, Bishop’s Waltham became a parole town, hosting prisoners of war from various parts of the world, some of whom  had a significant impact on the town. The most notable was Admiral Villeneuve, commander of the French and Spanish fleets which had been defeated at Trafalgar. Drawing on the memoirs of Field Marshall Pillet and the artist Louis Garneray, the book describes their eventful times in Bishop’s Waltham. Utilising sources in the Admiralty Records at the Public Record Office and local records in the Hampshire Record Office, the author also explores how the parole system was operated by the Admiralty agents, and how a widespread network of escape routes developed. Hulks moored off Portsmouth housed the rank and file prisoners and life was hard; many crafted ingenious models which they sold to make life more bearable, and some are illustrated here. Ultimately, a conspiracy between parole prisoners to engineer an uprising against the British in 1810-12 resulted in the closure of Bishop’s Waltham as a parole town. 

This account of a little-known period in the town’s history will fascinate Bishop’s Waltham residents and naval historians alike.

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