Verner was a politician and prominent member of the Armagh landed gentry, however, this portrait depicts him as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 7th Hussars. He was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, and the Waterloo medal he is wearing in the portrait is now part of the museum’s collection. From 1832 to 1868 he was M.P. for County Armagh and was created Baronet in 1846.

Verner’s interest in an army career began when he commanded the Churchill Yeomanry. At first, he was a staff officer under the Lord Lieutenant of Dublin in the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars. He fought in the Peninsular War at the Battle of Corunna under Sir John Moore in 1808–1809.

He also fought at the Battle of the Pyrenees under the Duke of Wellington, in 1814 at the Battle of Orthes and the Battle of Toulouse, and in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, under Lord Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey. Verner was wounded by a musket shot to the head at Waterloo and retired from the army with the rank of Colonel.

Sir William held three positions as High Sheriff: first for County Monaghan in 1820, County Armagh in 1821 and last for County Tyrone in 1823. He was also a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of Tyrone. He was a member of the Conservative party and a Member of Parliament for County Armagh between 1832 and 1868.

A supporter of the Protestant Orange Order, he was once struck off the Commission of the Peace by Lord Normanby for toasting the Battle of the Diamond at a public dinner in Ireland.

He married Harriet Wingfield, daughter of Colonel the Hon. Edward Wingfield, younger son of The 3rd Viscount Powerscourt and Harriet Esther Westenra, on 19 October 1819. The couple had 2 sons and 8 daughters, at least 2 of which died in infancy. The children were buried at Powerscourt. He seemed to have good relationships with his children, who called their father “Taffy”.

Following the Battle of Waterloo, and seeing his father in failing health, he took over the running of the family estate, named Churchill, which included the house, a church with a bell inscribed to the Virgin Mary, and a graveyard. In 1788, he received the estates following the death of Thomas Verner, Esquire, his paternal great-uncle. In addition to Churchill in Armagh, Thomas Verner had estates in Meath, Monaghan and Tyrone. Since William was only 5 years old in 1788, his parents James and Jane moved into the home with their family and were guardians until 1807.

During the Great Famine of Ireland (1845–1852), Verner offered work to any of his tenants in need and reduced rents by as much as half.

In 1837, he was also made Knight Commander of the Hanoverian Order by Sir Robert Peel and King William IV. On 22 July 1846, Verner was created a baronet, of Verner’s Bridge in County Armagh. He was a Grand Master for Armagh and a Deputy Grand Master of the Orange Order for Ireland.

Verner had good health until 1870 when he began to decline. He died on 20 January 1871 at his home at Eaton Square. His body was sent to Loughgall, County Armagh, in Ulster for his funeral and burial. The procession was two miles long and was estimated to have included 10,000 people.

Related topics

  1. A Short History of The 7th Hussars