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