Posts Tagged ‘Bath’

This photograph from my visit to Abbey Cemetery in Bath shows the tomb of Lieutenant General George Dick with its distinctive red cross. Dick’s was the third burial to take place in the cemetery which opened in 1844. He lived with his two daughters in Bath and after his death, his son, George sailed home from India to find he had been cut out of the general’s new will, written shortly before his death.

An unsightly spat took place with allegation and counter allegation appearing in the local newspapers. When George accused his sisters of poisoning their father, an exhumation was arranged. Two coroners, solicitors and doctors and a jury attended, as did the general’s butler who had the unpleasant task of identifying the body. The tomb was removed and the lead coffin recovered to the cemetery’s chapel where a post mortem was carried out. There was much surprise at how little decomposition had occurred in the seventeen months since General Dick was buried.

The next day, an inquest heard that there was inflammation in Dick’s digestive tract. Was it caused by arsenic, prussic acid or strychnine? The jury couldn’t decide, returning a verdict of death from inflamed stomach and bowels, but with no evidence to show how. The press quickly lost interest, George returned to Calcutta and his sisters retired to Devonshire. The general’s body was reinterred and remains undisturbed to this day.

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During yesterday’s visit to the Victorian Locksbrook cemetery in Bath, I came across this grave. I approached through graves to the right of its headstone, and it was only when I turned round that I realised just how remarkably long the grave was! I walked to its end so that I could capture this image for you. Aside from mass graves for disaster victims, have any of you seen a family grave of this length? Please let me know.

By way of historical interest, the headstone records that four people are buried in the plot. George Annersley Phayre [Captain Royal Navy], his widow, a daughter and the quaintly described ‘third’ daughter. Phayre was commander of the paddle sloop Basilisk which was one of a fleet of Royal Navy ships sent to North American waters because of the Trent Affair in 1861.

The Trent Affair has been described as the most serious diplomatic crisis between Britain and the US federal government during the American Civil War.removed It came about when the US Northern navy stopped the British merchant ship, Trent in neutral waters and seized two Confederate emissaries [to London and Paris].

Writing in the online Canadian Encyclopedia, author Robin W Winks records that news of the seizure and violation of British neutrality was greeted by demands for apologies from the US and for its surrender of the diplomats. For a while, was appeared possible between Britain and the North, with Canada likely to be a battleground. The crisis passed when the North returned the Confederate commisions some seven weeks later. No apology was given . . .

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