Thursday, 24 December 2020

A Journal of the Plague Year; Cemitério da Ajuda, Lisbon

I took these photographs just over a year ago, on Friday the 13th December 2019, on a grey, overcast and drizzly day in Lisbon. Like most Lisbon cemeteries Ajuda occupies high ground in a very hilly city, with spectacular views down to the river Tejo but it can be horribly windswept and bleak in winter. I was in Lisbon dealing with some bureaucratic chores related to our forthcoming exit from the EU. It the week of the general election in England and the Portuguese were nearly as interested in the outcome as the British. Everywhere I went I was asked incredulously “Boris vai ganhar?” It was rather embarrassing to have to admit that “acho que sim,” yes Boris was likely to win. The election was on Thursday the twelfth so by the time I visited Ajuda I was already aware that it had been a complete rout for Labour and that my fellow countrymen had made it crystal clear that there were no second thoughts, the only thing that mattered to them was getting out of Europe. That day the question I was being asked was; “E agora?” What now? I didn’t know; Boris was already full of his bullshit about oven ready deals but it was hard not to believe that the only ones who were going to get stuffed was us. Brexit seemed like the biggest disaster that had befallen the country for decades. Little did we know that across the world in far flung Cathay some unfortunate citizens of the People’s Republic, in a then little-known city of 11 million people called Wuhan, were developing a high temperature and experiencing respiratory difficulties after being infected with a bat virus. It wasn’t until 3 January that the BBC first reported that the “Chinese authorities have launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia which has infected dozens of people in the central city of Wuhan…”          


It is at times like this that any notions of being in control of our own destinies are shown up for the delusions that they are. Our minor local difficulties with exiting the EU have faded into insignificance with our species inability to control an organism so simple in construction that it barely counts as being alive. Luckily it isn’t as virulent or as lethal as organisms responsible for previous pandemics have been but it is still a reminder that the black death may have happened several centuries ago but we are just as vulnerable as we ever were to death and disease and life is only marginally less precarious than it was back in the 1340’s. Official estimates say that 1.7 million have died so far of the disease that none of us even knew about a year ago. Many people think that Boris Johnson’s government has proved to be singularly inept in handling the crisis. We would all like to think that it could have been handled better but the reaction across the world has been pretty much identical – trying to enforce social distancing, closing down places where humans congregate, wear face coverings, wash your hands, cross your heart and hope you don’t die. The only way to control the disease is to stay away from each other and as a social species that is very, very difficult.


All our plans are in disarray; I would normally visit Portugal at least twice, often three times, a year. A trip planned for April had to be called off as did a family wedding scheduled to take place in July and then a final attempt to visit in October fell victim to the second national lockdown. I’ll try again next year. 

Ajuda cemetery is one of Lisbon’s oldest burial grounds, founded initially in 1766 by Queen Maria II for the poor of the parishes of Ajuda and Belem on the western outskirts of Lisbon. What had been an area of small holdings, manor houses, quarries and windmills acquired status after the earthquake destroyed the Royal Palace, the Paço da Ribeira in central Lisbon. The Royal family moved to a country house, the Real Barracca, high on the hillside of Ajuda which served as the primary royal residence until it was destroyed in a fire in 1794. The current Palace of Ajuda was later built on the same site. The cemetery was built by a royal official, Diogo Inácio de Pina Manique, between 1766 and 1787 and it became the final resting place of many royal servants. 


The entrance gate to the cemetery sports a pair of imposing finials with a sailing ship under full canvas and topped by a pyramid bearing a jawless skull above a swag of funeral drapery. Inside the entrance are four sculptures arranged in niches representing Truth and Strength flanking the gate on the right and Justice and Hope on the left. The cemetery chapels stands opposite the entrance and has four further niches with statues representing Prayer and Faith, Humility and Charity. The architect of the imposing entrance portico of Cemiterio de Prazeres, Domingos Parente, is buried at Ajuda along with Admiral Gago Coutinho, who made the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro with co-pilot Sacadura Cabral in 1922. 


A common Portuguese tombstone motif is the putto with skull, hourglass and extinguished torch. 


The sun did come out briefly whilst I was visiting Ajuda, hence the blue sky on this picture of the mausoleum of João Lourenço and family, hunter to Dom Luís I, King of Portugal from 1861 to 1889.



Friday, 4 December 2020

Pre-Raphaelite muses and premature death; the family life of George Waugh (1801-1873), Kensal Green Cemetery

 

GEORGE and MARY WAUGH d.1873 and 1886

Sq. 16. Statuary marble figure of a seated woman mourning over an urn and holding a bowl, over the inscription 'I am the Resurrection and the Life'. Tall rectangular plinth with inscription in lead letters. Epitaph on south side commemorates Fanny Waugh, first wife of the Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt, who died in Florence in 1866. Condition: poor, marble beginning to sugar, some lead letters missing.

Roger Bowdler “Kensal Green Cemetery; A Gazetteer of the Monuments.” (1998)

The baptism entry for George Waugh in the Scotch Church register 


A late photograph of George 

George Waugh was from a pious Scottish presbyterian background. He was one of the 10 children of Alexander Waugh the minister of the Scotch church in Wells Street (just off Oxford Street) and his wife Mary. He was baptised by his father at the church on 15 March 1801. Four of Alexander’s sons became ministers but George, after an education at Mill Hill school, started to train as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s hospital. He failed to complete his medical studies having fallen in love with his eldest brother’s sister-in-law, Mary Walker, and marrying her on 06 May 1829. Instead he became a very successful pharmacist with premises at 177 Regent Street where he became druggist to Queen Victoria. Mary had 11 children the first was born in July 1830 and barely survived a month dying on 07 August.  The unnamed son is commemorated as their ‘first born’ on their memorial in Kensal Green which says that his remains ‘here rest’ but if that is true he must have been buried elsewhere initially as the cemetery didn’t open until 1832. There are 3 more of the Waugh’s children buried in the family grave and recorded on the memorial, two girls who died in childhood, “Mary Walker their daughter who died 11 May 1839 aged 7 years and Isabella Foster their daughter who died 18 Feb 1853 aged 10 years,” and their son George “who was drowned while bathing in the sea at Slapton Devon on 24 Aug 1869 aged 34.” The details of George’s untimely demise are given in the Dublin Evening Mail of Friday 27 August 1869;

Drowning of a Barrister. A melancholy case of drowning occurred in the south of Devon on Tuesday evening. Mr. G. Waugh, a barrister, of London, was bathing in the sea at a spot between Dartmouth and Kingsbridge, in company with Messrs. Reynolds and Lucas, also barristers, when suddenly he exclaimed, "I'm drowning!" and he disappeared instantly. His companions, knowing was an excellent swimmer, thought he was joking when he uttered the exclamation. His body was picked up yesterday off the Start.

Mrs Mary Waugh nee Walker

At the rear of the memorial is an inscription commemorating another of their daughters, Fanny, who predeceased them, dying two months after the birth of her first child in Florence in 1866 at the age of 33 and buried there in the Cimitero Degli Inglesi.  Fanny was the first wife of the pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt who married her following a failed engagement to his model Annie Miller. Holman Hunt started to paint Fanny’s portrait just before the birth of their son in October 1866 but the picture remained unfished at her death in December. He sculpted her tomb himself and had her buried beside Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It is said that Mary Walker blamed Holman Hunt for her daughter’s death but when he returned to England with his infant son he moved into his father-in-law’s house at 15 Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater. There he completed the portrait of his wife with the aid of his memory and a photograph and Fanny’s paisley shawl, purple dress, and cameo brooch brought back with him from Florence.  He also painted a portrait of his mother-in-law and rather stern and forbidding she looks. One imagines the family were not pleased to see the increasingly intimate relationship that developed between their grieving son-in-law and their youngest daughter Marian Edith. George Waugh was dead before Holman Hunt dared to take Marian and his son back to the continent with him and marry her at Neuchatel in Switzerland in 1875. British law defined marrying the sister of one’s deceased wife as incest and the marriage caused a serious rift in the family. Holman Hunt’s pre-Raphaelite colleague, the sculptor Thomas Woolner, had once also been in love with Fanny Waugh. His feelings were, however, not reciprocated and when he proposed to Fanny she declined, marrying Holman Hunt the following year.  Woolner wooed another of George Waugh’s daughters, Alice Gertrude, and married her instead in 1864. When Holman Hunt married Marian, Woolner was one of his most vocal critics and never spoke to his brother-in-law again. Woolner and Alice had six children, four daughters (the eldest later wrote a biography of her father) and two sons.

Fanny Holman Hunt

As the for the rest of George’s children, the ones that weren’t dying prematurely or marrying pre-Raphaelites (or both in Fanny’s case), Margaret married a doctor and moved to Australia where she died in 1910, Emily married Thomas Key a solicitor and moved to Leatherhead where she died in 1911 and Alexander became a country doctor who bullied his wife and children and became known in the family as "the Brute". His eldest son Arthur was the father of Evelyn Waugh the novelist.   

Marian Edith Waugh before she married Holman Hunt


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Toast Of The Town; Thomas King (1694-1737) St Paul's churchyard, Covent Garden


The parish register of births, marriages and deaths of St Paul’s in Covent Garden records the burial of one ‘Thomas King, from Hampstead’ on the 11th of October 1737. The newspapers recorded his passing in a short notice of just a couple of sentences; 

Derby Mercury 13 October 1737
With admirable alacrity an anonymous satirical design for his monument was on sale at sixpence in the print shops of St Martins Lane and Long Acre little more than a week after his funeral. The proposed memorial featured a statue of Tom dressed in an unbuttoned frock coat, reclining on an upturned punch bowl, his left arm propped up on the punch ladle. At his feet with arms upraised kneels the grieving figure of Black Betty, one of the coffee shops better known serving wenches. On the base of the memorial a panel shows a typical night scene in Covent Garden; in front of St Paul’s church two men fence, one with a sword and one with a staff, a woman tries to hold back the swordsman and in the back ground the night watch approach at a trot, presumably to arrest the two brawlers. Prints of this sort are always crammed with telling details. Figures of a drunken rake and a weeping whore stand either side of the main memorial. Behind it a stone pyramid carries the epitaph  "To ye Memory of their kind father T:K[in]g his loving Daughters D[ougla]s & Molly St[uar]t & Betty C[areless] Erect ye Monument", garlanded with lighted candles, smoking pipes and tobacco leaves. A banner at the top of the memorial reads ’coffee, tea and chocolate’ and a coat of arms shows Bacchus and a naked Venus and Cupid holding a shield with three cats surmounted by a cock mating with a hen bearing the motto ‘To Kiss & Scratch’. The print contained three columns of verse dedicated to the passing of the coffee shop proprietor and includes the lines:

….real grief declares, Tom’s Gone
For thee all bawds, all pimps lament
From every Bagnio sighs are sent
No form no outward show they seek
Their very looks their sorrows speak
     

 
 

In his 1866 survey of the ‘Club Life of London’ John Timbs notes that King’s was “one of the old night-houses of Covent Garden Market: ‘it was a rude shed immediately beneath the portico of St. Paul's Church, and was one "well known to all gentlemen to whom beds are unknown." Fielding in one of his Prologues says: "What rake is ignorant of King's Coffee-house?"’… It is in the background of Hogarth's print of Morning, where the prim maiden lady, walking to church, is soured with seeing two fuddled beaux from King's Coffee-house caressing two frail women. At the door there is a drunken row, in which swords and cudgels are the weapons. Tom ran his coffee house with his wife, the infamous Moll whose anonymous biography, a 25-page pamphlet called the “Life and Character of Moll King”, is the main source of information on the couple. In The First Bohemians Vic Gattrell says:

In its time, the Kings’ was the best known of all the dives in Covent Garden, a pick-up place though not technically a brothel.  The only bed available was Tom and Moll's own bed in the loft, and when they went to sleep they pulled up the ladder. Couples who met there went to bagnios to conclude their business. Yet it was the Kings' enterprise that by the 1740s helped shift the location of upmarket sexual commerce from Drury Lane to the Piazza.”

According to the Life Tom King went to school at Eton and being expelled for some serious but unnamed misdemeanour became a waiter in a Covent Garden bawdy-house where he met Moll. She was the daughter of a St Giles’ cobbler whose mother peddled fruit and vegetables in the market. Moll started her working life as a barrow girl for her mother who had “several sweethearts before she was 14 years old.” Her inevitable seduction by a young gentleman led to sharing her favours with other young blades and eventually to a stint as a street walker in the company of the famous Sally Salisbury. When she met Tom in the 1720’s the couple contracted a Fleet Street Marriage (without benefit of clergy) and set up their market shed to sell coffee, tea and chocolate. The bill of fare at the Kings was less important than its role as a nocturnal assignation place for rakes and whores. It also attracted artistic clients including Hogarth;

According to J.T. Smith, a ‘large and spirited drawing in red chalk by Captain Laroon exhibiting the inside of Moll King’s’ hung in Horace Walpole’s house at Strawberry Hill (now lost), Smith also reported that he had been told by Benjamin West, Reynolds’s successor as the Academy’s president, who had it in turn from Hogarth’s friend Francis Hayman, that one night while Hogarth and Hayman were drinking at the King’, Hogarth noticed ‘two ladies whose dispute bespake a warm contest’ – women of he town, of course, “and, at last, one of them, who had taken a mouthful of wine or gin, squirted it in the other’s fae, which so delighted the artist, that he exclaimed “Frank, mind the b----‘s mouth!”’, Hogarth at once sketched the disagreement in his notebook and in 1735 resurrected it as an element in the Rake’s orgy in the Rose tavern.  (Gattrell p103.)  

Following Tom’s death in 1737 Moll successfully ran a series of bawdy houses despite the continual attentions of the authorities to her business and her person. When she retired she married a Mr Hoff and built three houses at Haverstock Hill. She died in 1747. 

        




Sunday, 22 November 2020

A place of worship for the 'very destitute and degraded' people of Barkingside; Holy Trinity churchyard, Mossford Green

 

The first burial in the churchyard in the present register took place in 1840. By an unfortunate oversight, the earlier burials seem to have been mostly in the part of the churchyard near the road, and thus, as the pariah increases, the finer and more ornamental tombs have had to be placed at the back of the church. Could the position have been reversed, and the finest tombs placed near the road, the appearance of the church from the Vicarage and from the road would have been more pleasing, for some of these tombs are among the prettiest works of art in the parish, which is not perhaps saying much for the aesthetic taste of local builders. The parish church was built at a bad period -1840- and its style is a somewhat corrupt kind of Norman. There is a striking difference between this building and the real Norman - take for instance St. Bartholomew the Great at Smithfield.  After all it has a simple effect, and after London smoke, visitors from town admire its cleanly cream colour and simple decoration, Perhaps, as the Twentieth Century advances. and the true principle, of "art as the hand maid of religion," become more fully realised, it will be made more worthy of its position. Internally, also, it lacks architectural beauty.

Essex Guardian - Saturday 11 April 1903

Holy Trinity, Barkingside is the sort of building Pevsner inevitably had something disparaging to say about. If I could find my copy of the ‘Buildings of England – Essex’ I would tell you what it was but I seem to have mislaid it somewhere. The anonymous author of the 1903 Essex Guardian series ‘Where Ilford Goes on Sunday’ (to church of course, where else?) reckoned that the parish “has such an interesting history that the trouble is not how a find sufficient material, but how to confine the facts at our disposal into the limited space one article. Barkingside Parish Church, or Holy Trinity, Barkingside, to give it its full title, is a fine old edifice, standing in the middle of the parish. It was built nearly sixty years ago, and has a seating accommodation for about four hundred people. The outer walls of the edifice are almost hidden from view by the mass of ivy which has clung around it.” The ivy has gone and the ‘fine old edifice’ of 60 years is now 180 and has had a couple of facelifts. One added a chancel in 1898 and the vestries were added sometime last century. The churchyard was the only burial ground in the parish until 1923 when a new cemetery was opened next door to serve the growing community. I came here looking for the grave of the rather intriguing Reverend Wladislav Somerville Lach-Szyrma who was vicar of Holy Trinity from 1890 until his death in 1915 but despite the small size of the churchyard and the large size of his grave stone I was completely unable to locate it. I required a second visit and the help of the current vicar to finally track it down – but that is a story for another day.  


Thanks to the residents of Ilford who had written to the church commissioners in 1838, requesting that a new church be built for the ‘very destitute and degraded’ people of Barkingside, Edward Blore’s yellow brick ‘corrupt kind of Norman’ church was built in 1839-40 replacing an earlier church or chapel that was marked on maps as Mosfoot Parish Church. The oldest headstone in the churchyard carries the date 1790. Barkingside was a very rural parish, quite outside the ambit of the capital, for most of the 19th century; in 1876 James Thorne said the village was “merely a gathering of a few small houses along a crossroad, and a few others by a scrubby green; the inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agriculture.” He only noticed its existence because 3 years earlier Dr Barnado had been given the lease of Mossford Lodge as a wedding present and had opened his first home for girls there. The growth of the Barnado’s estate of children’s homes seems to have acted as a catalyst for more general growth in the area. In 1903 Barkingside Station, which is now on the Central Line, was opened by the Great Eastern railway. Memorials to the dead children of Barnado’s and to victims of railway accidents are both features of the churchyard.  

BARKINGSIDE. The Church and Unbaptized Children — Some unpleasantness was caused in Barkingside a few days since by the refusal of the Vicar (Rev. N. Perkins) to bury the unbaptised child of James Vince. The child was eleven months old. Through the intervention of friend of Vince’s, the Rev. W. Stepney, of Ilford, undertook to officiate, and he conducted a funeral service in the Methodist Free Church, and completed the service at the graveside.

Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 27 September 1889


When the Reverend Perkins wasn’t refusing to bury unbaptised children his illiterate sexton was getting himself into trouble for burying still born babies without a proper death certificate after accepting a scribbled note on a scrap of paper from an unlicensed midwife as sufficient authority to carry out the interment:

A WARNING TO SEXTONS. - In consequence of some irregularities in the burial of a child at Barkingside, an inquest was held at the Maypole Inn, Barkingside, on Wednesday before Mr. C. C. Lewis, upon the body of a child named Cross, aged five days, son of Thomas Cross, a labourer. The father stated that his wife was delivered of twins on the 5th inst. (Monday), and was attended by Mrs. Staff (midwife). One of the children died on the following day, and the deceased died on Saturday. The body of the former was delivered to F. Linsell (the Sexton at Barkingside Churchyard) by the witness on Wednesday evening, and by him buried. Linsell asked witness for a certificate, and he gave him the piece of paper produced. This had written on it, "Baby died 5th August, 1889. Mrs. Staff." Julia Staff stated that the deceased was seized with a fit and died in a short time. Mr. W. J. Beer, surgeon, said the general appearances indicated death from convulsions. The Jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. The Sexton (Linsell) attended before the Coroner, and expressed his regret for what had taken place respecting the burial of the first child, saying he was new to the duties, but he would take care that such a thing did not occur again. He quite understood that it was a stillborn child, and, being unable to read, he did not know what the purport of the paper handed to him was. The Coroner pointed out to Linsell the requirements of the Act in regard to the burial of stillborn children.

Barking, East Ham & Ilford Advertiser, Upton Park and Dagenham Gazette - Saturday 17 August 1889



There is a newer memorial in Barkingside Cemetery next door which at least carries the names of all of the deceased children:

In the Parish Churchyard, Barkingside, a monument was unveiled to the memory of 320 children of Dr. Barnardo's Village Homes interred there.

Essex Chronicle 1910



ILFORD MAN MUTILATED BY A TRAIN AT WEELEY. A fatal accident occurred to Mr. Thomas Fountain, of Barkingside, llford, at Weeley, on the Tendring Hundred branch of the Great Eastern Railway, on Monday evening. The unfortunate gentleman, who, with his partner, Mr. R. Roberts, of Barkingside, was constantly travelling on the line at this period of the year to purchase root crops, was hurriedly making his way to the station in order to catch the last train which was due. The deceased attempted to walk over the level crossing, in spite of his companion's dissuasions, to reach the up platform, although had he gone on the footbridge it would have been more expeditious. Mr. Roberts, who was some little distance behind, did not see what occurred, and thought his partner was safely on the train. Being unable find him, he called to Mr Rowan, the station master, who, on looking behind the train, saw the body of Mr. Fountain in a terribly mutilated condition, it having been carried a distance of several yards. The body was removed to the outhouse of the Railway Tavern, and about £10 were found in the pockets of the clothing. Mr. Fountain leaves a widow and family, he was about 55 years age. The inquest was held the Railway Hotel, Weeley, on Wednesday, by Mr. J. Harrison, coroner. Mr John Fountain, of White's Farm, Ilford, identified the deceased as his brother. He was dealer and farmer, and was a little near sighted, but was not deaf. Samuel Crowe driver of the train, stated that he did not feel the engine strike anything, and was not aware of the accident until he was informed at, St. Botolph's station. Police-Constable Skipper produced the property found on the deceased, which included £6 in gold coins. The jury returned a verdict of  Accidental death, but added a recommendation that the bridge should be moved to the other end of the station. The Foreman said that not one person in twenty went over the bridge. He himself had only used it once.  A Juror is said to have seen children crawl underneath goods trains. The Coroner said would forward the recommendation to the proper quarter.

Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 04 December 1896

On Saturday afternoon Mr. Thomas Fountain, of Barkingside, who was accidentally killed on the railway at Weeley, was buried in the parish churchyard, Barkingside. There was a large attendance of the inhabitants; and the ceremony was conducted by the Rev. W. S. Lach-Szyrma (vicar), who gave appropriate address.

Barking, East Ham & Ilford Advertiser, Upton Park and Dagenham Gazette - Saturday 12 December 1896


Friday, 13 November 2020

Rhubarb & Arsenic, a cautionary tale; The unfortunate end of the Hickman family of Kensal New Town (St Lukes, Chelsea)


Thomas Hickman, who was thirty-three years of age, was originally a glass-worker, but for the last seven years he had been a constable of the metropolitan police, D division, which force he quitted about three months since, and since then has supported himself by carting home washed linen for laundresses, who abound in that locality [Kensal New Town]. On Sunday last they prepared a piece of baked mutton for dinner, with the addition of a rhubarb pie, to which they all sat down about two o'clock, and, as is the custom with many families of the poorer classes, they partook first of the rhubarb pie before the meat.

Morning Post - Friday 04 June 1847

In the late 1830’s London’s urban sprawl arrived at the open fields of North Kensington, on the far side of the Grand Union Canal and to the east of the new cemetery at Kensal Green. Middle Row in what was grandly called Kensal New Town was a new street of jerry-built cottages and laundries with West Row and East Rows to either side, Southern Row to the south and Kensal Road to the north. A set of two room cottages given the glorified name of Penton Villas was, in 1847, the home of the Hickman family. The 33-year-old patriarch was Thomas, a former policeman who now made his living by delivering laundry. He was married to Harriet and they had 6 children, 12-year-old Thomas, James who was 10, Harriet, 6, 4-year-old Mary Ann, John, 3, and 16-month-old Henry. At the end of May Harriet’s unmarried sister Caroline Bonamay, having just lost her situation as a live-in servant and with, for the moment, nowhere else to go, came to live with the family temporarily. 

The burial register of St Lukes showing the entries for the Hickmans on 04 June 1847

On Sunday 30 May the two sisters prepared a traditional Sunday lunch for the family of baked mutton and rhubarb pudding. Caroline took it upon herself to light the fire and not having any kindling, she rummaged through the kitchen cupboard and found a nearly empty bag of flour. As there was a second, much fuller bag of flour in the cupboard, she emptied the contents of the first bag into the second, noticing as she did so that the flour from the first was much whiter and finer. She meant to mention this to her sister but as she busied herself using the now empty flour bag to get the fire going, she forgot all about it. The dinner was duly prepared and at lunchtime the family sat down at the table to consume it, pudding first, as was apparently the habit of the lower classes.  The rhubarb pudding was demolished in short order but the mutton was never touched because as soon as the last of the pudding had been eaten the family started to feel unwell. Thomas Hickman went out into the yard and over to the railings surrounding the house of his neighbour Ann Sullivan.  Mrs Sullivan assumed that he had come to deliver the slice of rhubarb pudding he had promised her children earlier that day but instead Thomas begged for her help as he said the family had been taken ill. She went round to the Hickman’s cottage where she found them all in a very bad way indeed. She wasted no time in running to fetch Mr Abercrombie a local surgeon who came back to the house with her and immediately suspected poisoning on being told that the whole family had felt unwell after eating the pudding.

Mr Abercrombie quizzed the family about who had had access to the flour before the pudding was made and the pudding itself before it was boiled. No one but the family he was told. The question about the flour jogged Caroline’s memory and she finally mentioned that she had put something into the pudding supposing it to be flour. When she added that she had taken it out of the kitchen cupboard Harriet turned to her husband and said “Hickman, it must be some of the white powders you keep about in the house.” Her husband replied “Oh, then it is Nitrate of Silver”. Mr Abercrombie thought not, nitrate of silver is highly corrosive and was not likely to the substance responsible for the poisoning. “Then it must be the white arsenic,” Thomas said, adding that he thought it had been thrown away years ago. Mr Abercrombie briefly considered using a stomach pump to treat the family but decided that his apparatus was likely to become clogged and ineffective with lumps of half-digested rhubarb and pastry. He settled for a simple emetic; Thomas insisted on the children being treated first and himself last. Despite Abercrombie’s best efforts one of the boys died in the afternoon and Thomas and four of the other children all died within a short space of time just after midnight. Only Harriet and Caroline and 12-year-old Thomas survived.

Cottages in East Row, Kensal New Town similar to the Hickman's in Middle Row

THE POISONINGS AT KENSAL NEW TOWN additional particulars. The intense interest excited throughout the neighbour- hood of Kensal New Town, Kensal-green, &c, by the above unfortunate and melancholy occurrence, appears not to have in the slightest degree diminished, large numbers of persons having, from early yesterday morning, congregated in the front of the Penton Vilas, until late last evening, anxiously inquiring as to the state of the survivors, and discussing the circumstances connected with the tragical affair. The wretched state of the survivors of the family, pressed down by the effects of the poison they had swallowed, the loss of so many members, and of their natural protectors, induced the medical gentlemen attending them, to make a strong representation to the parochial authorities of St. Luke, Chelsea, on their behalf, which we are happy to say, was most warmly responded to by the parish officers, who immediately despatched Mr. Bush, the relieving-officer, who visited the cottage on Monday evening, and gave directions for their having everything that their destitute and weakened state required. No case has for a long time occurred in which the sympathy of the benevolent is more called forth than in the present, where six out of nine members of a family have been removed by the hand of death, and the remaining three, who have been reduced almost to death's- door, have no funds out of which to inter their deceased relatives, who must consequently be buried by the parish. Yesterday morning, in accordance with a warrant issued on the previous day, by Mr. Wakley, the Coroner for the western division of Middlesex, a post mortem examination of the bodies of Thomas Hickman, the father, and James Bonamey Hickman, the second son, was performed by Mr. Brown, the surgeon, of Kensal-green, assisted by, and in the presence of, Mr. Abercrombie, the surgeon who was first called in, Dr. Chowne, lecturer on medical jurisprudence at Charing-cross Hospital, Dr. Robert Barnes, of Notting- hill, a medical friend of Mr. Abercrombie, and Mr. Brown's assistant. The operation was performed in the front room of the cottage (which consists of only two rooms) in which all the six dead bodies were lying.

Morning Post - Wednesday 02 June 1847

Thomas Wakley the Middlesex Coroner (and founding editor of The Lancet) opened his inquiry at the Portobello Arms on Tuesday 01 June. After swearing in the jury he told them that “the affair was such an awful one, that it would require a few days for consideration, in order that a proper and cool inquiry might be made into the matter.” He ordered further post mortems to be carried out on the rest of the family and told the jury that they would be going to see the bodies that morning and once that had been done the inquest would be adjourned for a week. According to the Morning Post the jury “then proceeded to the cottage to view the bodies. The sight was a peculiarly distressing one. They were all lying in the front room, the father on a stump bedstead, the second son was lying on a deal table under the window, and the rest in other parts of the room. The Jury appeared much affected at the sight of a father and five children, all cut off within 22 hours.” The following day Mr Abercrombie carried out the additional post mortems requested by Coroner Wakley and on Friday June 4 the five deceased members of the Hickman family were all buried at St Lukes in Chelsea:

The funeral of the five children and their father, Thomas Hickman, took place yesterday morning, in the burial-ground of Chelsea New Church. Mrs. Hickman's mother, Mrs. Hickman's two sisters, including the unfortunate Caroline Bonamy, and one or two friends, followed the remains to the grave

London Evening Standard - Saturday 05 June 1847

Mr Wakley’s inquest was reconvened the following week and came to the following conclusion:

The Coroner examined the witnesses as to the terms on which Mr. and Mrs. Hickman lived, and with a view to ascertain whether at any time threats had been used by any member of the family. Having satisfied himself on these points, he went carefully through the evidence, expressing his conviction that the death of Hickman and hii family had been caused by the arsenic which had thoughtlessly been left about, but that Mrs. Hickman and Caroline Bo- namy were totally ignorant of its nature when they mixed it up with the flour of which the pudding was composed. The Jury unhesitatingly returned a verdict to that effect.

Morning Post - Thursday 10 June 1847


Thursday, 29 October 2020

Premature burial of a baby at Abney Park Cemetery (1885)

From the London Daily News of 21 October 1885


This story was very widely reported in late October 1885 appearing in at least 70 national and provincial newspapers. All the stories consist of just one almost identical paragraph though there are a variety of headlines: child (or infant) buried alive (or nearly buried alive), child almost interred alive, burying a live child, narrow escape from being buried alive, strange scene at grave, startling discovery at grave,  an extraordinary story (or affair or case), Remarkable case of premature burial, and trance and premature burial…. The story first appeared on 20 October when it was reported in at least 11 newspapers across the UK from the Evening News in Portsmouth on the south coast of England to the Evening Express in Aberdeen on the north coast of Scotland.  Surprisingly in light of the 19th century obsession with premature burial and given the wide spread reporting of the story no one seems to have followed it up. Makes you wonder if it was really true.

Abney Park Cemetery is, of course, in Stoke Newington where Edgar Allan Poe, author of ‘The Premature Burial’ was a boarder at the Manor House school for 8 years from 1815 to 1823. Just a decade after this incident Dr William Tebb and Walter Hadwen founded the London Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial in 1896 with the aim of diffusing “knowledge regarding the pre-disposing causes of the various forms of Suspended Animation or Death-Counterfeits”. One of their concerns was that medical practitioners were not obliged to view a body before certifying a death so in many cases they were relying on the word of next of kin, ministers of religion or undertakers. In most cases death would have been self-evident but occasionally errors would be made. When they were made not many would awake in the nick of time and get themselves pulled out of their graves at the last minute.  

Do many babies still get buried alive? I was rather horrified when I googled it to see recent stories of squalling infants being dug up in cemeteries, waste ground and in woods across the world from Brazil, to India, China and the United States. In most cases they had been deliberately interred alive by parents who didn’t want them and most still had their umbilical cords attached. One hopes the incident in Abney Park cemetery was just human error… 

Friday, 23 October 2020

Reanimated! The shocking fate of George Foster (1769-1803)


The parish register from St Andrew's Holborn showing the baptism of baby Louisa Foster 

There were two baptisms at St Andrew’s, Holborn on 12 March 1802, both of them workhouse babies from the parish workhouse on Gray’s Inn Lane.  Mary Beauchamp christened her son George, no father was present or recorded, and George and Jane Foster had their infant daughter Louisa baptised.  George had married Jane Humphrey at St Clements Dane on 26 June 1794 and Louisa was the Foster’s fourth child; one had died in infancy but the other two had, to all intents and purposes, been abandoned in the Barnet workhouse. George Foster according to his employer, coachmaker James Bushwell, was “one of the most diligent men he had ever employed.”  In the harsh economic conditions at the start of the nineteenth century his diligence earned him 24 shillings a week in summer and 21 a week in winter but this was not enough to enable him to support his own children or to secure a regular place of residence. When not in the workhouse George Foster lodged, without his wife and children, in a house in North Row, Grosvenor Square though he often only slept there one or two nights a week. Jane Foster lodged with her mother when she could, in Old Boswell Court. George’s landlord did not feel that man and wife were on particularly good terms because Jane wanted the family to live together and George was not keen. George told one of his workmates that he “was determined not to live with her any more.” She often called at North Row looking for George and wanting money from him. Perhaps alcohol contributed to the families unsettled lifestyle; there is some evidence from their last day together that drink may well have played its part. Within a year of the christening at St Andrews, George, Jane and baby Louisa were all dead.


Illustration from Giovanni Aldini's 'Essai théorique et expérimental sur le galvanisme'

On Monday morning 6 December John Atkins, a boatman on the Grand Union Canal, made a harrowing discovery, the ice-covered body of a drowned baby had somehow wedged itself under the bow of his barge at Westbourne Green. He promptly informed the authorities and Sir Richard Ford, Chief Magistrate of Bow Street and so effectively London’s police chief, instructed him to drag the canal looking for further bodies. In the meantime, the dead baby was removed to Chelsea workhouse where a few days later it was seen by Margaret Bradfield, George Foster’s landlady. When she was later asked at his trial if she had recognised the deceased she responded “it was the prisoner's child; I pulled up its eye-lids to look at the colour of its eyes; its name was Louisa.” It took three days of dredging by bargemen to find the corpse of a woman entangled in a submerged bush “close by the window of the Mitre Tavern”. The landlady and waiter of the Mitre both recognised the body as a customer from the previous Sunday afternoon who had drunk rum and porter in the company of an unknown man. No further bodies were discovered and George Foster was not taken into custody until after Christmas. He was interrogated by Sir Richard Ford himself and made the following statement:

‘My wife and child came to me on Saturday se’nnight, about eight o’clock in the evening, and slept at my lodgings that night. The next morning, about nine or ten o’clock, I went out with them, and walked to the New Cut at Paddington; we went to the Mitre tavern, and had some rum, some porter, and some bread and cheese. Before that we had stopped at a public house near the first bridge, where we had some beefsteaks and some porter; after which she desired me to walk further on by the cut, so I went with her. I left her directly I came out of the Mitre tavern, which was about three o’clock, and made the best of my way to Whetstone, in order to go to Barnet, to see two of my children, who are in the workhouse there. I went by the bye lanes, and was about an hour and a half walking from the Mitre to Whetstone. When I got there, I found it so dark that I would not go on to Barnet, but came home that night. I have not seen my wife nor child since; I have not enquired after them, but I meant to have done so to-morrow evening, at Mrs. Hobart’s. -- I came home from Whetstone that evening between seven and eight o’clock; I saw no person in going to Whetstone; nor did I stop any where, at any public house, or elsewhere, except the Green Dragon, at Highgate, where I had a glass of rum. My wife had a black gown on, and a black bonnet; the child had a straw bonnet, and white bed gown. My wife was a little in liquor.’


The Mitre Tavern, opposite Wormwood Scrubs on the Regents Canal
On 19 December Jane Foster was buried in the churchyard of St Paul’s in Hammersmith, the old church that was demolished in the early 1880’s to make for the current church (much of the churchyard was later lost when the Hammersmith flyover was built). As well as the official parish register the curate of St Paul’s also kept a personal notebook in which he calculated his quarterly bill to the board of the workhouse for burying the paupers and made aide-memoires of the deaths he needed to register sometimes with piquant details of how the deceased had met their end.  John Smith, for example, was “killed by a horse at the black bull” in November 1801 and John Cooper appears to have met his end in November 1803 in a bathing tub. The curate noted that Jane Foster was aged 34 at the time of her death and added that she was “drownd in the New Cutt in the wood”. At the bottom of the page he later added a footnote “the above Jane Foster & her infant child was drownd in the New Cutt by her Husband who was Hanged for it Jan Monday 17 1803”. Sadly baby Louisa was not buried with her mother but was interred the following day 3 miles away at St Luke’s in Chelsea (not the church on Sydney Street but Chelsea Old Church on Cheyne Walk).  
The entry on Jane Foster in the curate's notebook
 
 
Baby Louisa Foster in the burial Register of St Luke's, Chelsea

A Coroner’s jury delivered a verdict of accidental death on Jane and Louisa Foster and George Hodgson, the Middlesex Coroner, later testified that he had viewed the bodies and also had them examined by a surgeon and that neither he nor the surgeon had observed any sign of violence. Despite this George’s story was not believed by Sir Richard Ford and he was charged with the murder of his wife and child. At the trial at the Old Bailey there were hints that Jane Foster may have taken her own life. The landlady of the Mitre reported that her parting remark on quitting the tavern had been “this is the last time I shall come here,” though she said this was not said despondently but more in a huff. Another witness, Sarah Goring in whose house the Fosters had lodged four years previously was asked if Jane Foster has “ever said any thing to you respecting her inclination or disinclination to remain in this world?” No she said, adding “I was very much surprised to hear she was in the work-house, because he was a very tender husband and a good father.” George’s employer and four other witnesses gave him a good character but his story of walking to Whetstone, more than 9 miles away from the Mitre tavern, in an hour and a half and of walking almost 20 miles in a little over three hours, was not credible. And why would he be lying? The only possible reason as far as the jury were concerned was to hide his guilt. They found him guilty as charged and he was condemned to hang and his body to be handed to the surgeons for dissection.

A hastily put together report by the Recorder of London recorded grounds for clemency in evidence not produced at the trial. The Rev. William Agutter, Chaplain of the asylum for Female Orphans in St George’s Fields, had written a letter to the Recorder “regarding a long consultation with Ann Arnold who was friendly with the dead woman. Arnold stated that Mrs Foster had parted from her husband and had gone into the workhouse. Mrs Foster and the child had since left the workhouse and were destitute. Arnold had told Mrs Foster to leave the child at the workhouse and obtain a nursing position, but she would not as the children 'were used so very ill.' Mrs Foster is stated to have said "If we die, we die together," and that "if something was not done for her she would put an End to her Misery." Eleanor Deker, who had met Mrs Foster at Arnolds, confirmed this statement and said they both thought that 'some mischief' would happen to Mrs Foster.” 

Illustration from Giovanni Aldini's 'Essai théorique et expérimental sur le galvanisme'

In the week that George Foster went on trial Giovanni Aldini, the nephew of Luigi Galvani, was astonishing polite London society with his demonstrations of the power of electricity. On 6 January 1803 the Morning Post reported:

Dr. Aldini, now in London, lately exhibited at the house of Mr. Hunter, some curious experiments on the body' of a dog newly killed, by which the company then present were exceedingly astonished by the powers of Galvanism. The head of the animal was cut off. The head and body were put beside each other, on a table previously rubbed with a solution of ammonia. Two wires communicating with the Galvanic trough, were then applied, the one in the ear, the other at the anus of the dead animal. No sooner had those applications been made, than both head and body were thrown into the most animated muscular motions. The body started up with a movement by which it passed over the side of the table. The head equally moved; its lips and teeth grinning violently. A curiosity has been expressed to have these experiments tried on a criminal newly executed. Dr. Aldini has communicated his discoveries, in an ingenious paper, to the Royal Society. He is soon to publish an English work on this subject.   

George Foster was soon to satisfy the curiosity to see the dead dog experiments repeated on a human being. Since his trial he had ‘he had scarcely taken the smallest nourishment’ and had been so troubled by his conscience that he had made a full confession to his crime and in response to questions would only say that “I ought to die.”  On 17 January at three minutes to eight in the morning he was brought out from Newgate wearing the same brown greatcoat and red waistcoat that he had worn through his trial. He was so enfeebled that he could not walk unassisted the short distance from the prison to the place of execution and had to be helped up the stairs to the scaffold that stood outside the debtor’s door of the Old Bailey. The reporter from Bell’s Weekly Messenger noted that when he ascended the platform “his air was dejected in the extreme, and the sorrow manifested in his countenance, depicted the inward workings of a heart conscious of the heinous crime he had committed.”  According to the Newgate Calendar after “passing a short time in prayer with Dr Ford, the ordinary of Newgate, the cap was pulled over his eyes, when the stage falling from under him, he was launched into eternity.” The calendar also reports that he ‘died very easy’ with the help of his friends, who had stood beneath the scaffold with the express purpose of pulling on his legs to break his neck and cutting short his sufferings. What happened next was reported in full in the Morning Post of 22 January:

The body of Forster, who was executed on Monday last for murder, was conveyed to a house not far distant, where it was subjected to the Galvanic Process, by Professor Aldini, under the inspection of Mr. Keate, Mr. Carpue, and several other Professional Gentlemen. M. Aldini, who is the nephew of the discoverer of this most interesting science, shewed the eminent and superior powers of Galvanism to be far beyond any other stimulant in nature. On the first application of the process to the face, the jaw of the deceased criminal began to quiver, and the adjoining muscles were horribly contorted, and one eve was actually opened. In the subsequent part of the process, the right hand was raised and clenched, and the legs and thighs were set in motion. It appeared to the uninformed part of the bystanders as if the wretched man was on the eve of being restored to life. This, however, was impossible, as several of his friends who were near the scaffold had violently pulled his legs, in order to put a more speedy termination to his sufferings. The experiment, in fact, was of a better use and tendency. Its object was to shew the excitability of the human frame, when this animal electricity is duly applied. In cases of drowning or suffocation, it promises to be of the utmost use, by reviving the action of the lungs, and thereby re-kindling the expiring spark of vitality. In cases of apoplexy, or disorders of the head, it offers also most encouraging prospects for the benefit of mankind. The Professor, we understand, has made use of Galvanism also in several cases of insanity, and with complete success. It is the opinion of the first medical men, that this discovery, if rightly managed and duly prosecuted, cannot fail to be of great, and perhaps, as yet unforeseen utility.
Giovanni Aldini by William Brockedon (1830) in the National Portrait Gallery

Later rumour had it that the raised right arm and clenched fist had connected with the nose of Mr Pass the Beadle of Surgeons Hall who suffered such a fright that he returned home and died the same night. Aldini’s grisly but theatrical demonstrations were a great success though not everyone was impressed. The American Thomas G. Fessenden who was in London at the time wrote, under the pseudonym Dr Christopher Caustic, the “Terrible Tractoration: A Poetical Petition Against Galvanising Trumpery, and the Perkinistic Institution. Addressed to the Royal College of Physicians.” This includes the following lines about Aldini:

For he, ‘tis told In public papers,
Can make dead people cut droll capers 
And shuffling off death's iron trammels, 
To kick and hop like dancing camels!  
To raise a dead dog he was able, 
Though laid in quarters on a table; 
And led him yelping, round the town, 
With two legs up, and two legs down! 
And this most comical magician 
Will soon, in public exhibition, 
Perform a feat he's often boasted, 
And animate a dead pig roasted!  
With powers of these Metallic Tractors; 
He can revive dead malefactors; 
And is reanimating, daily, 
Rogues that were hung once, at Old Bailey!
And sure I am he'll break the peace, 
Unless secured by our police; 
For such a chap, as you're alive, 
Full many a felon will revive. 
And as he can, no doubt of that, 
Give rogues the nine lives of a cat; 
Why then, to expiate their crimes, 
These rogues must all be hung nine times!

Friday, 9 October 2020

Peter Ross 'A Tomb With A View; The stories and glories of graveyards' (Headline £20)


Graveyards themselves are essentially colons: they can introduce a narrative. Graveyards are opportunities for storytelling, for understanding who these people were and who we are.

Peter Ross in an interview for the Times

“I grew up in Graveyards. The dead were my babysitters, my quiet companions.”; Peter Ross opens his new book as though he is the protagonist of a novel by Neil Gaiman. In reality the award-winning Scottish journalist grew up in a house just like the rest of us though the house he lived in seems to have been a stone’s throw away from Stirling Old Town Cemetery where as a callow youth he went fishing for tadpoles or admiring the view across the city from an outcrop called Ladies’ Rock. To Ross graves were, and are “shelves full of stories”. Perhaps unsurprisingly the first living person in his new book is the ubiquitous Sheldon K. Goodman, who tells Ross “burial grounds are like libraries of the dead, indexes to lives long gone.”  I have a good deal of sympathy for that view; it is pretty much my own attitude towards cemeteries. For all our professions of lifelong fascination with cemeteries the truth is that 20 years ago graveyards were a bit of a niche interest and hardcore taphophiles were rare creatures indeed.  Cemetery books were published infrequently and cemeteries themselves were often lost and abandoned places. Graveyards have become fascinating in the age of the internet because on-line newspaper archives and genealogical sites make research of cemetery occupants much easier to do. And with their several million occupants UK burial grounds provide enough raw research material to keep bloggers and writers busy for at least another couple of hundred years. Is taphophilia the new trainspotting?   

The author in his element - Peter Ross in Greyfriars Kirkyard, photo by James Glossop for The Times

Ross’ book is a collection of journalistic short pieces on cemeteries in the UK and Ireland. He visits burial places in London, (Brompton for Sheldon’s Queerly Departed tour, Highgate, and Kensal Green), looks at Milltown cemetery in Belfast and its intimate connection with the troubles, visits the grave of Phoebe Hessel, the Stepney Amazon at St Nicholas in Brighton and Peter the Wild Boy in Hertfordshire, war graves on the Scottish Islands and attends a wedding at Arnos Grove cemetery in Bristol.  At Kensal Green he clears up a mystery that has puzzled me the last couple of years when he meets Mehdi Mehra, an Iranian businessman who built an extraordinary memorial to his eleven-year-old son Medi, who died in a riding accident. “Around his son’s grave,” Ross says, “he built a memorial on a scale the Victorians would recognise.” This is something of an understatement – the memorial is so huge it dwarfs everything else in the cemetery. It is so large it isn’t even immediately recognisable as a memorial. A 30-metre-long half circle of Corinthian columns built using 350 tonnes of granite, 150 tonnes of steel and 200 tons of concrete and decorated with angels holding torches, books and flowers, this is monument on a scale the Ancient Egyptians would recognise rather than the Victorians. At Glasnevin cemetery we hear the harrowing story of charismatic tour guide Shane Mac Thomáis who became an unexpected celebrity after appearing in a documentary about the cemetery One Million Dubliners. On March 19 2014 CCTV cameras captured Mac Thomáis entering the cemetery at 7.00 in the evening. Walking towards the main part of the cemetery he paused, turned around and saluted the camera. His body was found hanging from a tree next morning. His grave is now almost as big a draw at the cemetery as that of Michael Collins.

Ross is a good writer; this could so easily have felt like a collection of newspaper features loosely connected by theme but it doesn’t. The book is as concerned with the living as it is with the dead (something for which it has been criticised!) but the exploration of what draws the living to the dead is what in the end elevates this above similar offerings on the same subject. It is extremely readable, very polished and definitely highly recommended. 


Kensal Green - the 'Belgravia of death'.

Friday, 2 October 2020

The Perils of Foreign Travel; Julia Slater (1834-1858) Kensal Green Cemetery


The rather fine memorial for Julia Slater caught my eye when I was recently in Kensal Green Cemetery mainly because I couldn’t remember having seen it before. I was slightly puzzled because given where it is in the cemetery, I must have walked past it dozens of times – how could I not have noticed it? It was only when I started researching it that I discovered that it had been extensively restored and that I had seen it before, and indeed photographed it.  The renovation has so totally transformed it that it is hard to connect the crumbling pile of masonry that it was before the restoration with the rather spectacular monument that now stands in the same place. The memorial is Grade II listed. FoKGC had been wanting to restore it for some time but planning permission was only applied for in August 2016. Planning consent was granted by the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in October 2016. The estimated costs for the works were £7990 (excluding VAT) but I suspect the final costs would have been significantly more than this. I don’t know who did the actual restoration but they made an excellent job of it.   

The memorial is an unusual triangular monument on a circular plinth made from Portland stone. The three faces of the triangle carry relief carvings of allegorical female figures, Faith holding a book and cradling a large cross, Hope with an anchor and Charity suckling an infant and with a child at her knee. There are carved palm trees at the three corners. Before restoration it was in a very poor condition, shrouded by encroaching trees, a gaping hole at one corner of the triangle, and covered in moss.  


Julia Slater, who died on 27 May 1858 at the age of 24 was the wife of Major Mortimer John Slater of the 5th Bengal European Regiment. She was born in 1834, in St Martin’s Lane, Westminster, the second daughter of John Pannett Bull, a successful haberdasher. She married her army officer husband on 06 February 1855 at Christ Church in Turnham Green where her father owned a second home, Arlington House. Within two months she was pregnant and on her way to India with her husband. Her son, named after his father, was born on 03 January 1856 in the British cantonment of Ambala in Northern India. Perhaps she was sent home to England with her new baby because she was already unwell. In England she went to live at the house of her father at 15 Hyde Park Street (just across the road from the house of Mr WH Smith, bookseller) where she died within a few months of arriving home. Her husband had been obliged to stay in India where he was eventually promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. He came from an artistic family his father John was one of three brothers who like their own father, became professional artists. He was born in 1824 and was educated at Marlborough. Presumably not having inherited any artistic talent he joined the Army of India and served in the first Afghan War. His abilities seem to have been administrative rather than military and he eventually became the Pension Paymaster based in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. In 1863 he was allowed to go home on leave where no doubt he looked forward to seeing the young son he hadn’t set eyes on since he was a baby. Unfortunately, he died on board HMS Nimrod on his way home on 29 October and was buried at sea. The baby Mortimer John Slater followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the army. He died on New Years Eve 1897 at the age of 41 in Up Park Camp, British Army Headquarters in Jamaica. Julia rests alone in her splendid sepulchre, without her husband or her son, a lesson in the perils of foreign travel.