CFHS code : AL572
Parish : St Andrew the Less
Inscription : In Memory of JOHN WALLIS d — 19 1860 in the 49th year of his age also EMMA eldest daughter of the above b August 1834 d February 1922 also SARAH wife of the above who after a long and painful illness departed this life Aug 31 1878 aged 69 also JOHN WALLIS BLINKHORN grandson of the above who was lost in the wreck of the Drummond Castle off Ushante June 16 1896 interred at Molene aged 33 footstone JW 1860 SW 1878
Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones/Footstone
Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey
To the west of the central path as it curves towards the Norfolk Street gate, in the north of the cemetery. Under a large tree.
In Memory of JOHN WALLIS d Jan19 1860 in the 49th year of his age
Also EMMA eldest daughter of the above b August 1834 d February 1922
Also SARAH wife of the above who after a long and painful illness departed this life Aug 31 1878 aged 69
Also JOHN WALLIS BLINKHORN grandson of the above who was lost in the wreck of the Drummond Castle off Ushante June 16 1896 interred at Molene aged 33 footstone JW 1860 SW 1878
John Wallis (c.1811-1860)
John was born in about 1811. He married Sarah Johnson (c.1811-1878) in 1832 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. They had at least seven children: William (1833-1850); Emma (1834-1922); Joseph (1837-1882); Harriett Elizabeth (1840-1923); George Henry (1843-1847); Julia (1846-1911); and Amelia Ann (1849-1935). John was an Estates Agent and lived at 11 East Road, Cambridge. John died on 19 January 1860 in Cambridge.
…And lastly, Mr. John Wallis, the well-known estate agent. Although moving in an entirely different station to the above, John had a certain amount of eccentric John Bullism about him, which caused him to be an universal favourite, and it will be difficult to find another to supply his place.
Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday, 21 January 1860
Emma Benfield (formerly Blinkhorn née Wallis) (1834-1922)
Emma was born in August 1834 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. She was the eldest daughter of John Wallis (c.1811-1860) and Sarah Wallis (née Johnson) (c.1811-1878). Emma married William George Blinkhorn (c.1834-1868) on 26 October 1858 at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, London. They had two children: Celia Agnes (1861-1863); and John Wallis (1863-1896). In 1861 the family was living in Woollards Lane, Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire. William was working as a clerk for merchants. William died on 11 February 1868 at 5 South Front, Southampton, Hampshire. In 1871 Emma was living at 11 East Road, Cambridge. The following year Emma married a widower, George Benfield (1823-1898), in 1872 in Cambridge. In 1881 Emma and her son were still living at 11 East Road and she was working as a Lodging Housekeeper. Her husband, George, was living at 10 Ram Yard, Cambridge next to a veterinary surgery. In 1891 Emma was lodging at 57 Mawson Road, Cambridge. Emma died on 21 February 1922 in Cambridge.
Sarah Wallis (née Johnson) (c.1811-1878)
Sarah was born in about 1811 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. She married John Wallis (c.1811-1860) in 1832 in Cambridge. She died on 31 August 1878 after a long and painful illness. Her last known address was Emmanuel Road, Cambridge. After her death her ‘genteel household furniture’ was sold at auction at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge.
John Wallis Blinkhorn (1863-1896)
John was born in 1863 in South Stoneham, Hampshire. He was the younger of two children born to William George Blinkhorn (c.1834-1868) and Emma Blinkhorn (née Wallis) (1834-1922). In 1911 John was still living at home at 11 East Road, Cambridge with his mother but he was working as a book seller’s apprentice. John married Emma Clark (1861-?) on 11 August 1889 at St Augustine, Highbury, London. They had a son: William Frank (1891-?). Some time after William’s birth the family travelled to South Africa and lived in Adderley Street, Cape Town. John’s wife and son returned to England in 1896 on the steamship Greek but John stayed on to complete his business for a further three months. John was undecided up to almost the last moment as to whether he would travel on the steamship Drummond Castle but he succeeded in settling some pressing business, and booked his passage on board the steamer. The last act John did before the sailing of the steamer was to scribble a letter to the Cape Times on what seemed to him the apathy of the South African Political Association in the Amnesty movement. He wrote, ‘While in England I shall do what I can to put the English Colonists’ view before my political friends, and when I return shall do what I can for the Colonial League, as it seems to me it is the only organization likely to support Mr. Rhodes in his policy of South Africa for the British.’
The Drummond Castle had been built in 1881 by John Elder & Co at Glasgow, Scotland with a tonnage of 3537grt, a length of 365ft, a beam of 43ft 6in and a service speed of 12 knots. She was the sister of the Garth Castle and was built for the mail run, and in 1892, had the distinction of carrying the first cargo of South African peaches in her ‘cold chambers’.
On 28 May 1896 the Drummond Castle sailed from Cape Town under the command of Captain W W Pierce with 143 passengers and 103 crew. On 16 June she was she was making for Ushant (Ouessant), before intending to head for London. Another steamer, the Werfa, sighted and logged the Drummond Castle as being off course. The conditions were foggy and the sea was so calm that there were no breakers to warn the watch keepers that the ship was off course in the tide race. She hit the Pierres Vertes Reef off the island of Molène. Initially, the captain thought the steamer was secure on the reef. He ordered the life boats to be lowered and to let off steam in case of an explosion.
However, the steamer was not secure and had overshot the reef. Within four minutes the steamer had sunk before a single lifeboat had been lowered. Out of the 246 persons on board only three were saved and only 53 bodies were recovered. Monsieur Alphonse Bertillon of the French Criminal Investigation Department was asked to investigate the scene and identified 51 of the 53 bodies recovered. Queen Victoria awarded him a gold medal for his efforts. The Breton fisherman who rescued the single passenger and two crewmen were also honoured. The inhabitants of Molène showed enormous kindness and humanity and dressed the bodies in their traditional Breton costumes as a mark of respect before arranging for and attending their burials on their island. Various relief funds and events were organised both in England and South Africa both for the families of those lost and as thanks to the inhabitants of Molène.
Census: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597-1921
London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday, 21 January 1860
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, Saturday, 21 January 1860
Cambridge Chronicle and Journal, Saturday, 10 March 1860
Cambridge Independent Press, Saturday, 17 December 1878
South Africa Magazine, 18 July 1896
By Emma Easterbrook