Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Local Hero

The church of St Mary Senior Bishophill no longer exists but the graveyard is still there. For many years it was strewn with empty beer cans, needles etc. Recently a local group calling themselves the Bishophill Billies have transformed the place into somewhere pleasant to visit. I was wondering through when the CAPITAL LETTERS on this grave caught my attention.

I think it reads as follows;

IN MEMORY OF Lieutenant GENTLE VICKERS who having bravely fought with the
DUKE of WELLINGTON in several of his Engagements in Spain and also at the memorable Battle of WATERLOO died in this City on the 9th May 1823. Aged 35 Years

A little research established that Gentle Vickers was a 1st Lieutenant in the 3rd battalion of the 95th Regiment of Foot, later to become the Rifle Brigade. A real life Richard Sharpe in fact. He fought at the Battle of Biddassoa in 1813 where he was severely wounded. He recovered to take part with two companies of the 3/95 and Colborne's 52nd Regiment in the famous assault on the flanks of the advancing Imperial Guard that triggered the final rout at Waterloo in 1815.

A mystery I couldn't solve is the that The Waterloo Roll call notes his death in 1823 but states he 'died in South America' whereas his gravestone above clearly suggests otherwise.
Taking part in Taphophile Tragics


  1. I like these little anomalies that sometimes crop up and may never be resolved.

  2. Love intriguing, twisting stories like this one leaving more questions waiting! The writing on this gravestone has weathered time far better than more recent ones I've seen!

  3. I think the gravestone is there as it is his hometown, so to speak, where people who would have known him live or lived. That he died somewhere else means those people didn't know him like his old friends and family.

    After I was hacked I had to give up my old user name and the blogs that went with it. My Birds Blog was among the give-ups.

    So this is the new birds blog and I hope you can come visit. Birds Birds Birds and Birds

  4. For a military man he has a must unlikely first name - Gentle!

  5. Wonderful capture, great story. Some historian is still scratching his head over the anomaly.

  6. I would think he got some stick over that first name. I saw one a week or so back, an old chap who was called Pickles.

  7. We all love a mystery. With such an unusual name, taphophile sleuths should be able to piece together more of his history.

  8. A military man thru and thru! He lived it and died it. I have run into the same issues of getting a couple of conflicting stories and wonder what is the true story.

  9. How fascinating! Wonderful to find references to well-known historical events in a cemetery near you.

  10. Lots of issues of interest here, and your band of commenters have zeroed in on each of them. I especially like the aspect that Nick alight on, which is finding a reference to a noteworthy historical event on a gravestone near to you. What a joy that must have been.

    The issue with the anomaly goes to where the body is buried. Is this a grave, or is this a memorial? It would be nice to know, but it is not essential, is it?

    Thanks for this. I enjoy popping in each week to see what you have unearthed, so to speak.

  11. Very unusual first name (or maybe it wasn't in those days). These old graves are turning up a lot of mysteries.

  12. I guess you used my site's page for your research. The reason I compiled the page was because there was nothing available online, and there still isn't much, but my page can be found very easily via Google. I'm glad it was helpful, but please credit the work of others? I always try to.


    1. I was a little surprised to read your comment. Not sure why you think I used your page for research? If you look through my blog you will see that taphophilia is something of a hobby of mine. All gravestones have a wealth of stories behind the inscription and just occasionally one comes across a widely recognised event recorded on a local stone.

      I have looked at your site today and am impressed with all the effort you have put into it, I know how much time it takes me to produce just one photo per day. I doubt I will sustain it for eight years! Should I use your site as a source I will be very happy to credit it as an excellent place to learn more about our city.


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