My 3rd great grandfather was James Gordon Cavenagh (1770-1844), an army surgeon who was with the Royal Staff Corps at Waterloo.

Cavenagh obtained his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1795-6 he first saw active service, with the 83rd Foot in the so-called ‘Maroon War’ in Jamaica. On 21 February 1800 he transferred to the Royal Staff Corps. The Royal Staff Corps was a corps of the British Army responsible for military engineering which was founded in about 1800 and disbanded in about 1837.

In March 1815 Cavenagh married Anne Coates. They lived at Hythe, Kent, where the Corps was headquartered and had eight children.

Hythe Kent 1823 from

View at Hythe; illustration to Ayton’s ‘Voyage round Great Britain‘, vol. VII. 1823.  Print maker, draughtsman and publisher  William Daniell. In the collection of the British Museum retrieved through

Hythe Kent 1831

Engraving of “The Barracks and Town of Hythe, Kent” from Ireland’s History of Kent, Vol. 4, 1831. It appears between pages 224 and 225. Drawn by G. Sheppard, engraved by C. Bedford. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

On 25 June 1825 Cavenagh retired on half pay, afterwards continuing to live at Hythe.

In 1830 he leased a house next to the Royal Staff Corps Barracks, which earlier had been connected with it. There was a gate in the fence between the house and the barracks and the Royal Staff Corps decided to remove the gate and close up the fence. Cavenagh took exception to the this, and threatened the men removing the gate with drawn sword, saying, “I’ll run the first man through the body that attempts to touch the palings”. There was a brawl but eventually the fence was erected. When the matter went to court a jury found against Cavenagh and awarded 10 pounds damages. [The amount, hard to express in today’s money, would come to somewhere between £500 and £10,000.]

1830 Maidstone Assizes Cavenagh Image (purchased) Hull Packet 17 August 1830 pg 2

Hull Packet 17 August 1830 page 2 digitised by the British Library Board and retrieved through FindMyPast

In 1834 Cavenagh became the mayor of Hythe and was still living there in 1837. He died at Castle House, Wexford, Ireland in 1844 and is buried in Wexford in the family vault in St Patrick’s Abbey.

The Royal Staff Corps Barracks has gone, with the site from 1968 occupied by a Sainsburys supermarket and carpark. The only surviving part of the barracks complex is Hay House on Sir John Moore Avenue. It was built in 1809 and became the Commandant’s House. It is now subdivided into 6 flats.

It would seem that Hay House is the house that J. G. Cavenagh rented. The Mainwarings of Whitmore family history states

During the short peace between the Peninsular war and Waterloo James Cavenagh was quartered with this corps at Hythe, where he met and married his wife. On the termination of the campaign he returned with this regiment to Hythe, and when it was disbanded he remained there for some years, living in the Commandant’s house which he rented from the Authorities and in which all his children were born.

Hythe Hay House Google Street view May 2009

Hay House, Sir John Moore Avenue, Hythe, glimpsed from the entrance to the Sainsbury’s Loading Dock. Image from Google Street View May 2009