The Duchess of Richmond’s ball has become a romanticised element of the Waterloo myth, where all the ‘immediate’ drama of the Battle of Waterloo began. It was held on June 15th (1815), the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras. The Duchess Charlotte was married to Charles Lennox the 4th Duke of Richmond, and the Duke and his 15 year old son (Charles Lennox, Earl of March, ADC to the Prince of Orange) were present at Waterloo on 18 June.

1024px-The_Duchess_of_Richmonds_Ball_by_Robert_Alexander_Hillingford
Robert Alexander Hillingford – painting “The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball” in Goodwood House the family seat of the Dukes of Richmond

Brussels was just a short boat ride from the south coast of England, and as a result the city was full of sightseers as well as the wives of senior officers.

The glamorous ball was continuing as any other, with the guests all dressed in their finery. Many of the male guests were high-ranking officers, who would soon be fighting at Waterloo (see full list below). Wellington himself arrived late to the festivities, having heard that the French had crossed the border in Belgium, and had already issued orders to his troops to prepare to move when the direction of Napoleon’s main attack became clear. Wellington was therefore distracted, and regularly speaking with his officers about arrangements during the festivities.

Later that night, a dispatch arrived from Quatre Bras to the Prince of Orange. The message was dated to 10pm that evening, and announced the repulse of Prussian forces from Fleurus on the road north-east of Charleroi – less than 8 miles (as the crow flies) from Quatre Bras.

Intelligence_of_the_Battle_of_Ligny
Intelligence of the Battle of Ligny (1818) by William Heath, depicting a Prussian officer informing the Duke of Wellington that the French have crossed the border at Charleroi and that the Prussians would concentrate their army at Ligny.

Wellington immediately asked the Duke whether he had a good map available, and they retired to his dressing room. Here Wellington supposedly uttered the now famous lines:

‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God…. I have made arrangements to meet him at Quatre Bras, and if I find myself not strong enough to stop him there, I shall fall back towards Blücher and fight him there.’ – The Duke of Wellington

The illusion of the ball was then shattered. Officers were rushing hither and thither preparing themselves and their troops to depart at 3am. The women were worried and tense, some of whom were saying goodbye to loved ones for the last time. The theatrical drama of the scene has been captured in many works of classical 19th century art, including those below.

The Black Brunswicker by Millais.
The Black Brunswicker by Millais.
Before Waterloo (1868), by Henry O'Neil, depicting officers departing from the Duchess of Richmond's ball
Before Waterloo (1868), by Henry O’Neil, depicting officers departing from the Duchess of Richmond’s ball
Summoned to Waterloo: Brussels, dawn of June 16, 1815 by Robert Alexander Hillingford.
Summoned to Waterloo: Brussels, dawn of June 16, 1815 by Robert Alexander Hillingford.

Below is the guest list to the ball, given to Lord Verulam by the Duchess of Richmond, who sent a copy to Georgina, Dowager Lady De Ross, daughter of the Charlotte Duchess of Richmond. This was then published by her in: “Personal Recollections of the Duke of Wellington” Murray’s Magazine, Part I 1889.

There were approximately 223 people invited and it is thought around 200 attended. Highlighted here are those guests who were either killed or wounded at the battle of Waterloo, only three days later.

  • Major- General the Prince of Orange (Commander I Corps)   Wounded
  • Prince Frederic of Orange
  • Duke of Brunswick Dead
  • Prince of Nassau
  • Duke d’Arenberg
  • Prince Auguste d’Arenberg
  • Prince Pierre d’Arenberg
  • Lord van der Linden d’Hoogvoorst, Mayor of Brussels
  • Duke and Duchess de Beaufort and their daughter
  • Duke and Duchess d’Ursel
  • Marquis and Marchioness d’Assche
  • Count and Countess d’Oultremont
  • Countess Douairiere d’Oultremont and the Misses Douairiere
  • Count and Countess Liedekerke Beaufort
  • Count and Countess Auguste Liedekerke et Mademoiselle
  • Count and Countess Latour Lupin
  • Count and Countess Marcy d’Argenteau
  • Count and Countess de Grasiac
  • Countess de Luiny
  • Countess de Ruilly
  • Baron and Baroness D’Hooghvoorst,
  • Miss D’Hooghvoorst and Mr C. D’Hooghvoorst
  • Monsieur and Madame Van der Capellan
  • Baron de Herelt
  • Baron de Tuybe
  • Baron Brockhausen
  • General Baron Vincent, Austrian envoy Wounded
  • General Pozzo di Borgo, Russian envoy Wounded
  • General Alava, Spanish envoy
  • Count de Belgade
  • Count de la Rochefoucauld
  • General D’Oudenarde
  • Colonel Knife (?), A.D.C.
  • Colonel Ducayler
  • Major Ronnchenberg, A.D.C.
  • Colonel Tripp, A.D.C.
  • Captain De Lubeck, A.D.C.
  • Earl and Countess Conyngham and Lady Elizabeth Conyngham
  • Viscount Mount-Charles and Hon. Mr. Conyngham
  • Countess Mount-Norris and Lady Julianna Annesley
  • Dowager Countess of Waldegrave
  • Duke of Wellington (Commander Anglo-Allied Army)
  • Lt.Col. Lord (and Lady Fitzroy Somerset)  Wounded
  • Lord and Lady John Somerset
  • Mr. and Lady Frances Webster
  • Mr and Lady Caroline Capel and Miss Capel
  • Lord and Lady George Seymour and Miss Seymour
  • Mr. and Lady Charlotte Greville
  • Viscountess Hawarden
  • Lieutenant –General  Sir Henry and Lady Susan Clinton
  • Lady Alvanley and the Miss Ardens
  • Sir James, Lady James, and Miss Craufurd
  • Sir George Berkeley, K.C.B., and Lady Berkeley
  • Lady and Miss Sutton
  • Sir Sidney and Lady Smith, and Miss Rumbolds
  • Sir William and Lady Johnstone
  • Sir Hew and Lady Delancey (invited but declined)
  • Hon. Mrs. Pole
  • Mr., Mrs., and Miss Lance, and Mr. Lance, Jun.
  • Mr. and the Misses Ord
  • Mr. and Mrs. Greathed
  • Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd
  • Hon Sir Charles Stuart, G.C.B. (Minister at Bruxelles) and Mr. Stuart
  • Liutenant-General Earl of Uxbridge (Commander Cavalry Corps) Wounded
  • Lt.Col. Earl of Portarlington (23rd Light Dragoons)
  • Capt. Earl of March (52nd Foot) A.D.C.
  • Major-General Lord Edward Somerset  Wounded
  • Capt. Lord Charles Fitzroy (1st Foot Guards)
  • Lt.Col. Lord Robert Manners (10th Hussars)  Wounded
  • Lieutenant-General Lord Hill (Commanding II Corps)
  • Lord Rendlesham
  • Ensign Lord Hay, A.D.C.  Killed
  • Lt. Col. Lord Saltoun
  • Lord Apsley
  • Hon. Col. Stanhope (Guards)
  • Hon. Col. Abercromby (Guards) Wounded
  • Hon. Colonel Ponsonby Wounded
  • Hon Colonel Acheson (Guards)
  • Maj. Hon. Colonel Stewart                                                                             Wounded
  • Capt. Hon. Mr. O. Bridgeman, A.D.C. Wounded
  • Hon. Mr. Percival
  • Ensign Hon. Mr. Wm. Stopford
  • Hon. Mr. John Gordon
  • Ensign Hon. Mr. Ern. A.  Edgecombe
  • Ensign Hon. Mr. Seymour Bathurst, A.D.C.
  • Ensign Hon. Mr. Forbes
  • Ensign Hon. Mr. Hastings Forbes  Killed
  • Major Hon. George Dawson                                                                           Wounded
  • Lt. Hon. Mr. Lionel Dawson, 18th Light Dragoons
  • Major-General Sir Hussey Vivian
  • Capt. Horace B Seymour, A.D.C. Wounded
  • Colonel Hervey, A.D.C.
  • Colonel Fremantle, A.D.C.
  • Lt. Lord George Lennox, A.D.C.
  • Capt. Lord Arthur Hill, A.D.C.
  • Major Percy, A.D.C
  • Lt. Hon. George Cathcart, A.D.C.
  • Lt. Col. Sir Alexander Gordon, A.D.C. Killed
  • Col. Sir Colin Campbell, K.C.B., A.D.C.
  • Major-General  Sir John Byng, G.C.B.
  • Lieutenant-General Sir John Elley, K.C.B Wounded
  • Lt. Col. Sir George Scovell, K.C.B.
  • Col. Sir George Wood, Royal Artillery
  • Lt.Col. Sir Henry Bradford                                                                              Wounded
  • Lt.Col. Sir Robert C Hill, Kt (brother of Lord Hill) Wounded
  • Lt.Col. Sir Noel Hill, K.C.B. (brother of Lord Hill)
  • Sir William Ponsonby, K.C.B Killed
  • Lt.Col. Sir Andrew Barnard Wounded
  • Major-General Sir Denis Packe, G.C.B  Wounded
  • Major-General Sir James Kempt, G.C.B
  • Sir Pulteney Malcolm RN
  • Lieutenant-General  Sir Thomas Picton Killed
  • Major-General Sir Edward Barnes, Adjutant-General Wounded
  • Sir James Gambier
  • Hon. General Dundas
  • Lieutenant-General G Cooke Wounded
  • Major-General P Maitland
  • Major-General Adam (Not present)
  • Colonel Washington
  • Colonel Alexander Woodford
  • Colonel Charles Rowan (52nd Foot)  Wounded
  • Lt. Col. Henry Wyndham (Coldstream Guards)  Wounded
  • Colonel Cumming, 18th Light Dragoons
  • Lt. Col. Edward Bowater (3rd Foot Guards) Wounded
  • Col. Robert Torrens (1st West Indies Regt.)
  • Lt.Col. William Fuller (1st  Dragoon Guards) Killed
  • Maj. Henry Dick, (42nd  Foot) Wounded
  • Col. J Cameron (92nd  Foot) Killed
  • Lt.Col. D  Barclay, (1st foot Guards) A.D.C.
  • Capt. Clement Hill (1st Foot Guards) Wounded
  • Major Gunthorpe, (1st Foot Guards) A.D.C.
  • Major CH Churchill (1st foot Guards) A.D.C.
  • Major Hamilton, (4th West Indies Regt.) A.D.C.
  • Major T N Harris Wounded
  • Major Thomas Hunter Blair (91st Foot) Wounded
  • Capt.  D Mackworth, (7th Foot) A.D.C.
  • Capt. Edward Keane, (7th Hussars) A.D.C.
  • Capt. C A FitzRoy (Royal Horse Guards)
  • Capt. T Wildman, (7th Hussars) Wounded   
  • Capt. John Fraser (7th Hussars) Wounded
  • Capt. William Verner  (7th Hussars) Wounded
  • Capt. Elphinstone, (7th Hussars) (taken prisoner, June 17)
  • Capt. H Webster (9th Light Dragoons)
  • Capt. H Somerset, (18th Hussars) A.D.C.
  • Capt. C Yorke (52nd Foot) A.D.C. (not present)
  • Capt. Hon George Gore, (85th Foot) A.D.C.
  • Capt. Pakenham, R.A.
  • Capt. H Dumaresq (9th Foot) A.D.C. Wounded
  • Capt. F Dawkins (1st Foot Guards) A.D.C.
  • Capt.  G Disbrowe (1st Foot Guards) A.D.C.
  • Capt. G Bowles, (Coldstream Guards)
  • Capt. R B Hesketh, (3rd Foot Guards) Wounded
  • Capt. J Gurwood (10th Hussars)  Wounded
  • Capt. C Allix, (1st Foot Guards)
  • Capt. Hon Francis Russell, A.D.C.
  • Lt. F Brooke, (1st  Dragoon Guards)  Killed  
  • Cornet W Huntley, 1st Dragoon Guards)
  • Mr. Lionel Hervey (In Diplomacy)
  • Mr. Leigh
  • Capt. A Shakespear (10th Hussars)
  • Mr. Standish O’Grady (7th Hussars)
  • Capt. C Smyth, (95th Rifles) A.D.C. Killed
  • Ensign G  Fludyer, (1st Foot Guards) Wounded
  • Ensign Hon. John Montagu (Coldstream Guards) Wounded
  • Ensign Hon. Henry Montagu (3rd Foot Guards)
  • Ensign Algernon Greville (1st Foot Guards)
  • Ensign David Baird (3rd Foot Guards) Wounded
  • Lt. James Robinson (32nd Foot) Wounded
  • Ensign William James (3rd Foot Guards)
  • Mr. Chad
  • Lt. A F Dawkins (15th Hussars) Wounded
  • Dr. Hyde
  • 2nd Lt. Gustavus Hume (Royal Artillery)
  • Rev. Mr. Brixall (Rev. Samuel Briscall)