Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Colonel Francis Skelly Tidy, CB (1766-1835), wearing scarlet coatee with silver buttons in pairs and silver lace epaulettes, the Waterloo medal pinned to his breast 

Frederick Buck (1771-c.1839)

Portrait miniature of Colonel Francis Skelly Tidy, CB (1766-1835), wearing scarlet coatee with silver buttons in pairs and silver lace epaulettes, the Waterloo medal pinned to his breast, Frederick Buck
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 2 3/4 in. (70 mm.) high
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Colonel Tidy had a prolific career, which spanned some of the most prominent campaigns and battles of the late 18th and early 19th century. Entering the army in 1792 as a volunteer in the 43rd regiment he was dispatched the following year to the West Indies. In 1794, he was present at the siege of Fort Bourbon, in the Isle of Martinique and at the capture of Guadeloupe.

Captured at Barville, Tidy was confined for fifteen months on board a hulk, where he suffered the cruelties of Victor Hughes (1762-1826), governor of Guadeloupe, he was then sent to France. Afterwards, obtaining permission to go to England on his parole, he was immediately appointed Adjutant of the 43d and again embarked for the West Indies.
In 1802, after a period at home in England, he joined the Royals at Gibraltar and in May 1803 embarked a third time for the West Indies. He assisted in the attack on St. Lucia and after its capture was appointed Secretary to the Colony. Resigning that situation, he was sent with a detachment of the Royals to Dominica and was appointed Brigade-Major; then Aide-de-Camp to Sir W Myers and subsequently to Sir C. Beckwith. In 1807 he became Major of the 8th West India regiment and in September of that year was transferred to the 14th foot. In 1808 he served as Assistant Adjutant general in the expedition to Spain, under Sir D. Baird. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the staff, and served the whole of the northern campaign against Marshal Soult. He fought at the battle on the heights above Grijo, in Portugal, May 11, 1809 and also at the passage of the Douro immediately after.
 In 1809 he served in the Waleheren expedition. On the 4th June 1813 he received the brevet of Lieut.-Colonel, and joined the 2d battalion of the 14th at Malta, where he remained during the plague. In 1814 he served at Genoa, where he was recalled to take the command of the 3d battalion about to embark for North America, which was rendered unnecessary by the conclusion of peace with the United States.

Col. Tidy afterwards served at Waterloo with the same battalion, which then contained 300 men under 20 years of age, but who, as declared in division orders, "on this their first trial displayed a steadiness and gallantry becoming veteran troops." An extract from ‘The Historical Record of the The Fourteenth, The Buckinghamshire Regiment of Foot’, (part of the series of the history of the British Army by Richard Cannon, p.74/5), describes the battle:

“On the 18th of June the third battalion of the 14th Regiment had the honour to take part in the memorable battle of Waterloo, the character and importance of which engagement, distinguish it as the greatest event of the age, and mark it as the brightest era in the history of the British army. The battalion was composed of young soldiers, who had never before been under fire, but their bearing reflected honour on the corps to which they belonged. During the heat of the conflict, when 1815 the thunder of cannon and musketry, the occasional explosion of caissons, the hissing of balls, shells, and grape shot, the clash of arms, the impetuous noise and shouts of the soldiery, produced a scene of carnage and confusion impossible to describe, a staff officer rode up to Lieutenant-Colonel Tidy, and directed him to form square; this was scarcely completed when the glittering arms of a regiment of cuirassiers were seen issuing from the smoke. The French horsemen paused for a moment at the sight of the scarlet uniforms of the 14th, and then turned to the right to attack a regiment of Brunswickers; but a volley from the Brunswick square repulsed the enemy, and Lieutenant-Colonel Tidy, with the view of giving confidence to the young soldiers of the 14th, drew their attention to the facility with which infantry could repulse cavalry The French cuirassiers rallied, and appeared inclined to charge the 14th, but were intimidated by the steady and determined bearing of the battalion.”

Colonel Tidy was also present at the storming of Cambray in June 1815 and for these services he was nominated a Companion of the Bath.

Frederick Buck was one of the most prolific and successful miniaturists of the early 19th century. Born in Cork, he established a thriving business in his home town, dedicating himself to soldiers heading off to fight in the Peninsular War. His reputation as an artist for officers may have persuaded Colonel Tidy to commission this miniature, where he proudly shows his Waterloo medal. Wearing the uniform of a field officer of the 14th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot, Tidy must have passed through Cork during the years 1807-15 (the date of this style of uniform) with Buck or another artist possibly adding his hard-earned Waterloo medal at a later date.

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