Major William Gammell

William Gammell was the eldest son of Lt. General Andrew Gammell and Martha Stageldoir. He was born in London on 30 September 1789 and was baptised in St. Georges Church Bloomsbury on 27 June 1790.


The next we hear of him is his appointment on 14 January 1808 at the age of 18, as an ensign in the 25th Foot, , so we know nothing of his earlier education.


He was promoted to Lieutenant in the 85th Foot on 25 January 1809 and fought in the Walcheren Expedition that went to the Lowlands (Holland) in 1809.  He served in the Peninsula with the 85th Foot from March to October 1811 and was slightly wounded at the 2nd siege of Badajoz on 5 June 1811 (as was his fellow officer Lt Harcourt Morton, who in 1814, married William's sister, Martha).  His regiment, which had suffered many casualties, was ordered back to the UK to recruit and was subsequently reformed, , , with William being transferred to the 95th Foot.  With that regiment, he fought at the battles of Orthes (February 1814), Tarbes (March 1814), and Toulouse (April 1814).   He received the Military General Service Medal, with clasps for Orthes and Toulouse.


He became a Captain in the 104th foot in 1816, exchanged into the 86th Foot in the following year, and purchased a Majority on the Unattached List in August 1826, after serving in the latter regiment in Ireland and Flanders. He finally fully retired from the Army in 1833.  He is referred to on his wife's death certificate as 'late Major in The Rifle Brigade'.


On his father's death in 1815, he received equal shares with his three brothers and three of his sisters in his father's estate, while on the death of his grandfather, James Gammell, the Banker in 1825 he inherited £20,000 in trust for him and his children. It was on the strength of this legacy, obviously, that he decided to give up active soldiering, and retire. Exactly why his grandfather left him cash instead of property - his younger brothers were all provided with at least one estate - is not known, but the fact that he was left such a handsome sum of money, seems to discount the possibility of a rift between him and his grandfather, and it may have been that he expressed a preference for a cash legacy, but this is speculation.


He was married on 7 June 1824 at St. Georges Church, Hanover Square in London to Maria Du Vernet, daughter of Abraham du Vernet of Old Chorlton, Kent, . After his retirement from the Army in 1826, he and his wife settled at Braddons Hill, Torquay, where on 13 August 1828, their only son Andrew Gammell and on 18 March 1830, their only other child, a daughter, Miriam Sophia Adelaide Gammell were born.


William and his wife appear to have moved from Torquay to Plymouth, sometime before their daughter's first marriage and resided at 1 Victoria Place, Stonehouse, and it was there that William died on 21 February 1853 and was buried at Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth, . The inscription on his memorial reads:


Sacred to the memory of Major William Gammell (eldest son of General Andrew Gammell, First Foot Guards) who died at his residence at Stone-House in the county of Devon on 21st February 1853 aged 61 deeply lamented by his widow and children.  He served in the 85th Regiment of Light Infantry in the Peninsular in which he distinguished himself by his gallantry during the first siege of Badajos in 1811 on which occasion he was severely wounded.  He was subsequently appointed to the 95th Rifle Corps with which he served in the Peninsular and was esteemed as a most zealous and efficient officer.  Both in the 85th and 95th Regiments he was beloved by his companions in arms and he received a Peninsular medal from Her Majesty Queen Victoria for his services”.


His will in Somerset House, leaves everything to his wife, and no mention is made of his children, but this is understandable in as much as they were provided for by the terms of the legacy left to William by his grandfather, mentioned above. William’s wife Maria survived her husband by 30 years and died on 15 December 1883 in Hampstead aged 88.