Sergeant James Graham

Sergeant Graham was one of the Coldstreamers who closed the north Gate at Hougoumont during the Battle of Waterloo. Both he and Sergeant Fraser of the Scots Guards were awarded a special medal for their gallantry at the north gate. Graham was also nominated by Wellington for an annuity of '10 a year which had been offered by a patriotic citizen, the Rev John Norcross of Framlingham Rectory in Suffolk: 'To one of his brave countrymen who fought in the late tremendous but glorious conflict.'

Unfortunately, after only two years, the annuity ceased when the rector went bankrupt. But when he died, he left '500 to be given to the 'bravest man in England'. Wellington was now asked to nominate this person and he wrote: 'The success of the Battle of Waterloo turned on the closing of the gates [at Hougoumont]. These gates were closed in the most courageous manner at the very nick of time by the efforts of Sir James Macdonnell.' So the commanding officer received the prize but he gave half to Sergeant Graham.

Graham is seen here in the new post-Waterloo shako. He has a green plume and a stringed bugle badge at the top, to denote Light Company. His jacket has flank company wings on the shoulder which are blue with gold lace loops in pairs. He has one medal which is probably supposed to be his Waterloo medal but it has a crown device on it instead of the head of the Prince Regent. The shape could represent the reverse side with winged Victory on a plinth. The medal was awarded early in 1816. The date of Graham's special medal may have been later, after this portrait was made.

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by Stephen Luscombe