If Only They’d Ended Up There

by Sheldon

One of the fascinating things I’ve found in researching blog posts for Cemetery Club is where people ended up being buried. In a cemetery, obviously, because where else would they be- but did you know some of our leading luminaries ended up somewhere else entirely?

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Let’s take a look at George Cruickshank. Any artists or illustrators – and historians, for that matter, too – will hear his name and simply go ‘AH!’ A phenomenally talented Victorian illustrator and caricaturist: his skill had him regarded as a then modern-day Hogarth. He was initially a friend of the Tour-guide’s chum and all-round writing supremo Charles Dickens – he provided illustrations for Sketches by Boz, the Mudfog Papers and perhaps more notably, Oliver Twist – until his views on temperance and morality, alongside a claim that he largely developed the plot of Oliver Twist led to distancing of the two men.

Cruickshank died in 1878 and was laid to rest in Kensal Green Cemetery. However, his story didn’t end there. On his deathbed, close to the end, his faithful wife attending his bedside, he sighed ‘oh, what will become of my children?’His wife sadly looked away: then quickly came to her senses. They didn’t have any children.

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Fagin in his cell. Public Domain

It turns out that he’d fathered 11 sprogs illegitimately with a former maid and had her installed three roads away from his marital home, using the story that she was the partner of a mature travelling artist and wood-engraver (so much for his well respected morality). After this revelation his wife knocked on the door of her love rival and instead of an almighty catfight, the two became good friends and raised the children together. Amidst this, his remains were removed from Kensal Green and reinterred in Westminster Abbey.

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via Philafrenzy, Wikipedia.

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Another person who ended up somewhere entirely different is the biologist and writer Charles Darwin. Looking like an eternally down-trodden Father Christmas, his publication of the Origin of Species had him widely mocked and at the very forefront of a blistering argument between the worlds of religion and science. He was a resident of Down House in Downe, Kent from the 1840’s, and was to be buried in the Churchyard of St Mary, the local church, alongside his brother and some of his children. However, upon the suggestion of the economist, mathematician and neighbour Sir John Lubbock, he was given a burial space in Westminster Abbey.

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Where he was supposed to be…

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The Duke of Portland was another person who ended up in one place but should have been buried in another. Upon his death in 1879 his will emphatically states that he was to be buried in the Great Northern Cemetery, New Southgate. A week or two later his relatives secure a large plot  in Kensal Green. Whether they wanted to give his final resting place the status and normalcy he lacked in life –  building tunnels under his house (all 15 miles of them which he insisted on painting pink), walking around at night with a lady holding a lamp several feet in front of him and dismissing any members of staff who said ‘hello’ to him is unknown.

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Then of course there’s Richard III, King of England, whose noble burial was delayed for centuries whilst he languished under a car park. And he managed to dodge a fine for a long-stay too, which is impressive.

Do you know of any other people who ended up somewhere else? We’d love to hear their stories!


References & Source Material

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/the-secret-life-of-a-virtuous-artist-john-wardroper-turned-sleuth-to-find-the-startling-truth-about-1559547.html

The Late Duke of Portland’s Will – Dover Express, Friday 19 August 1898 – via the British Newspaper Archive 

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About SheldonKGoodman

I'm Sheldon, a City of Westminster guide with a passion for exploring the environment around us. I have an extensive and deep interest in cemeteries and the people buried within them: it's a fascinating story and mix of characters who have all contributed to the world of today. Writing for www.cemeteryclub.co.uk, I hope to bring some of these people and places back to life and reveal their achievements, interests and lives.
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6 Responses to If Only They’d Ended Up There

  1. jenroche1970 says:

    I still think Richard III should have been buried in York. He was, after all, Richard of the House of York and that’s where he belongs. Just my personal opinion, of course.

  2. Donald C says:

    What were the circumstances that led to Cruickshank’s remains be re-interred in Westminster Abbey and how long after he was buried in Kensal Green was he removed?

    • He was a man of importance and I think it was roughly 6 months after his original burial.

      • Donald C says:

        I would say it was odd that they just did not bury him in the Abbey to begin with but given that something similar seems to have happened with Darwin, I assume it was a fairly normal practice to re-inter a celebrated person if there was enough of a push to do so.

      • Peabody of the Peabody Trust was initially buried in the Abbey before being removed to America, if my memory serves me correctly.

  3. Pingback: The Man Who Helped Save a King | Cemetery Club

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