Famous People

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Thomas Sully
Life and work of Thomas Sully - portrait artist

THOMAS SULLYA BLUE PLAQUE has been erected in Horncastle on a wall outside the Co-op Store on Conging Street

Thomas Sully

Born in Horncastle, June 1783

Became a Renowned Portrait Artist in America

Died 5 November 1872. Philadelphia USA.

Talk on his life and times was given by Colin Gascoyne at the Admiral Rodney Hotel on  15th January 2020

A follow up talk focussing on his work, due for 15th July,  has been postponed due to Coronavirus 

Thomas Sully was born in Horncastle and became one of the finest portrait painters in America. In 1835 he was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society, his citation describing him as "one of the most distinguished painters of the United States”.

Self-Portrait of the Artist Painting His Wife, Sarah Sully c.1810. Yale University Art Gallery 
Self-Portrait of the Artist Painting His Wife, Sarah Sully
c.1810. Yale University Art Gallery

Thomas Sully was born in Horncastle in June 1783. His parents, Matthew and Sarah, were actors who toured and played the provincial theatres. It is thought they came to Horncastle that summer to present their plays. A barn-cum- theatre in Dog Kennel Yard may have been the venue for their performances.

In 1792 the Sully family emigrated to America, settling in Richmond, Virginia, and later in Charleston, South Carolina. All the family made careers on stage. Thomas made at least one appearance in 1794, in the Charleston Theatre. At 16, after a very brief career in an insurance office, Thomas determined to become an artist.

Thomas started by painting miniatures in watercolour and progressed to oil paintings. From 1801 to 1872 he produced over 2600 paintings – 2,000 and more were portraits, 65 were miniatures, and 500+ were subject or "fancy pictures", as he called them.

Sully was said to be at his best when portraying prominent society women. As the magazine Godey's Lady's Book proclaimed in 1844 "Sully, as all the world knows, paints exquisitely beautiful portraits of ladies. His praise is in all the parlours".

For all his fame, Thomas was first and foremost a family man, a devoted husband and father who worked tirelessly to support his family.

Thomas died at his home in Philadelphia on November 5, 1872, "honoured and loved by all who knew him ... at a good old age full of years and honours". He is described by his contemporary, William Dunlap as "walking with the stride of a man of six feet, though he was not over five feet six inches in height" and as having a face "marked with the wish to make others happy". His whole life was characterized not only by great consideration for others but by the utmost fairness and honesty.


PDF Download Thomas Sully leaflet
Download the "Thomas Sully leaflet.pdf"

Annie Dixon
Renowned miniature portrait artist

To view some of her work from the Royal Collection visit the "Explore the Royal Collection online" website.

A Blue Plaque was erected on her former home at 40 East Street, Horncastle on Saturday 14th July 2018 to commemorate the life of this remarkable woman.  It was unveiled by the Society's Patron, Francis Dymoke. He pointed out that it is  especially appropriate as 2018 is the year we acknowledge women's achievements.  This is the first plaque for a woman in the town. A full file on her life and works is now available at the town archives. 

A leaflet has been produced and is available at the library and the Tourist information centre.  All portraits are reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Collection Trust @ Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018.

Below is an extract from the text of the leaflet ommitting portraits:


1817- 1901

Annie was one of Britain’s most successful and productive 19th   century female miniature portrait painters. Active from around  1840 to 1893, Annie is reputed to have painted over one thousand  portraits, 222 of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy.  Annie was a favourite of Queen Victoria, and from 1859 she  painted portraits of most of the Royal Family, especially the  Queen’s children and grandchildren.  More than 20 of Annie’s  paintings are now with the Royal Collection. 

Annie was born in Horncastle 12 March 1817 to parents William  and Susanna. She had three brothers and four sisters, her father  was a corn merchant. From about 1855 the family home was 40,  East Street, Horncastle, which is now identified with a Blue  Plaque in commemoration of Annie. 

 Annie early developed a love for water colour painting and was gifted with an ability in obtaining a likeness. Early in her career she painted a miniature of Harriett Anne Palmer of Horncastle and another of George Harwood Browne a farmer and landowner of Farforth near Horncastle. She worked in Hull with Ann Cooke, thought to be the first woman commercial photographer in Britain. Annie was instructed in miniature painting by Mrs. Magdalen Dalton the sister of Sir William Ross who, from 1845 onward, had been commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint miniatures of each of her children. In 1857 Sir William suffered a stroke and was not able to paint again. The Queen chose Annie Dixon to complete the work. Such was the satisfaction with her work, further commissions from the Royal family followed and she was in great demand from many nobles and eminent people. It is a testament to her skill and dedication to her work that she prospered when many other portrait painters suffered from competition with the new art of photography.

With her work Annie went to the Royal residences Sandringham, Osborne House, Claremont and many fine country houses but she made time to be with her family in Horncastle also at her London home where she was usually joined by her sisters, nieces and nephews. When at Sandringham she would often visit and stay with relatives, the Bennett family, in Kings Lynn.   

 Annie was 76 years old when she last exhibited at the Royal Academy; failing eyesight prevented her from continuing the art she so dearly loved.  Annie died at her home, 90 Eaton Terrace, Belgravia. London, 12th February 1901.  She chose to be buried in Horncastle and on 15th   February her remains were conveyed by train to Horncastle and interred in the cemetery. Her grave can be found to the right rear of the chapel adjacent to that of her sisters Frances and Emily  

Produced and Published by Horncastle History & Heritage Society. ©  




James Searles - Boxing champion, Athlete and Jockey
Born in Horncastle, became Champion of England
James Searles

James Searles was born James Belton in Horncastle on 26th December 1819. He took the name Searles after his parents married. He appears to be an all round athlete, becoming Champion of England at Boxing for which his nickname was Tigser.

He was equally well known as a runner and was known as (the English Deer). He raced in America. Records show he ran 20 & 10 mile races as well as 250 hurdles. He was also thought to be a jockey.

We are still compiling information on James and will add as available.

John Cussons - Horncastle's Hero in the American Civil War
An introduction to his life in Horncastle and his family history, together with a synopsis of his time in the Confederate Army
 John Cussons


John Cussons father was also John Cussons and he was a Miller and Master baker in Horncastle. His grandfather was also John Cussons and he was from Yorkshire and farmed at Ox Pasture Farm at Thornton just outside Horncastle. Thy ewer all staunch Methodists and life revolved around the church and preaching.

This farmer John had 8 children from his marriage to Susanna Marsar.  William the eldest son became a farmer and after Ox Pasture Farm was sold on his father’s death , moved to Holton Holgate to manage the Manor farm there. David became a printer and his premises in the Market Place where he produced the Lincoln,Rutland and Stamford Mercury and magazines and  became the eventual site for Mortons.  He also became quite a leading figure in the town and was on the Navigation committee. Hannah married well and eventually moved to Doncaster.  Joseph was of poorer health and though he eventually married he ended his days with tuberculosis and tended by his sister. John was apprenticed to Edward Allison to become a miller and baker.  This cost his father the considerable sum of £15 at a time when his cattle had only sold for £1. 10 shillings per head at market and with the Corn Laws keeping the price of bread high, this seemed the trade with the best future in 1823.
At the end of his apprenticeship in 1829 he was offered a place as master baker to Mr Townrow in the Bail in Lincoln. He also went to be close to his friend Frederick James who was awaiting the Assizes in Lincoln prison. He was an artist and also an architect’s apprentice who had been accused of stealing books. He was a staunch Methodist like John and like John often preached around the Lincoln circuit and they were both concerned about the plight of the poor. He eventually admitted that he had borrowed the books for longer than necessary but was only given 6 months and then he was re-apprenticed.  In Lincoln John experienced much more stimulation than here in Horncastle as there was always something going on and his mind was expanded by the company he kept, but he had become secretly engaged to Betsy Jackson before leaving Horncastle and he was keen to get back to her even though her family disapproved the match as below her. In 1831 he rented the mill on Louth Road, where Tanglewood is now sited, together with the 5 bedroomed Millhouse adjacent, which had a thatch roof and lovely garden.  He replaced the roof with tiles and painted the windmill white so it could be easily seen.  He did not want to compete too much with his former master Allinson and found times difficult as the Corn Laws also made corn very expensive. So he installed an oven and set up a bakery.  He was now in a position to finally ask for Betsy’s hand in marriage and it was Christmas 1831 when he finally brought his bride to the Millhouse.
Children started arriving in 1834 – James, Emily, Ann and then John in 1838, followed by Edwin in 1844. Even at 4 John was referred to as a ‘regular Turk’ being brimming with energy & mischief.
His father had by this time also taken on the bakery in the Bull Ring (now Meyers) as well as the Mill and worked long hours and was exhausted most of the time, but his faith was very strong to him and he provided well for his children and gave them good guidance. The family eventually had to move to live at the Bakery in the Bull Ring.
It was at evenings spent at Uncle David’s home above the printing shop in the Market Place that young John’s love of an audience came to the fore. They would all be required to contribute to the entertainment of the evening , recitations, playing the piano or singing. His fondness for fun often embarrassed his mother. On receiving a pencil and notebook at  Christmas he declared he would write in it a poem that would become world famous at which his Mother observed drily ‘ Our John is in no need of a trumpeter’.  This had become a regular comment as her first delight in his cleverness was now hidden under rebuke as there was no doubt he was a great boaster. They were glad when he became apprenticed to his Uncle David as a printer. 
During one holiday he was diverted to trace the Cusson family history and discovered they went back to Geoofe de Coutances who came over with the Conqueror and this caused John to put on some airs and graces, despite his Mother’s reprimands.   It was because of this he asked for fencing lessons, which his father agreed to as it gave balance and quickness and c-ordinates hand and eye and its was a polite accomplishment.
He also had grandiose dreams of Uncle David running a local paper and himself becoming a journalist, but in the meantime had to learn about setting type, book-binding etc.. He enjoyed the contact with the customers. Eventually, it became clear that his uncle had no intention of risking his money to set up a paper and was more interested in making money with other smaller businesses.
Unfortunately, one warm dull morning as he was performing the humdrum task of setting up type for a handbill, he was thinking about five more years of his apprenticeship and his inability to earn money or set up his own business before that, and day dreaming about what he wanted to do.  A little later he was startled when David burst in asking what he was doing.  He had set up the type without reversing it and all the printing was gibberish and the paper gone to waste. His Uncle spared him nothing in dressing him down in front of the other apprentices for such a basic mistake that even a new boy would not do. He was mortified and ashamed of everyone knowing his mistake the next day.  He put his mistake right and then disappeared.  His father discovered that the week’s taking for the bakery had also disappeared, and it was teatime the next day when a stranger arrived at the door on one of the family’s horses to give a message to the Miller. ‘I can spare you nothing for your pains, but I make you a promise’  - nothing else.
The stranger had ridden the horse back from Lincoln and gave the news that John had got passage aboard a steamer out of Liverpool to the United States.  It had left the Fossdyke for Liverpool that morning.

Acknowledgment and further reading:  The Miller of Horncastle by Eileen Cussons
Click on our Links Page 'John Cussons for a short film of his life in America
 Acknowledgement and further reading:  ‘John Cussons, the Confederacy’s Lincolnshire Scout’ by Daniel Clarke 
 (This book gives a full description of his battles and time in America.)
We should be aware that as a British citizen he could have been exempt and gone back to Britain, but he believed he had to contribute in his adopted home.
When he arrived in America Cussons made his way westward, spending the next four years living a life of adventure and incident.  For part of this period he would live among the Sioux native American Indians of the Great Plains, where he no doubt found his future love of hunting wild game.  There is some very tenuous and circumstantial evidence to suggest that Cussons may have lived in California for a time, mining for gold.
In 1859 Cussons slowly drifted south-eastwards and settled in the town of Selma, Alabama.  It was here that his writing abilities found him employment; first as a writer and editor, and then, at the young age of twenty two as the co-owner of the Selma Reporter, more journal than a weekly newspaper.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861, Cussons decided to throw in his lot with the breakaway Confederacy, even though he was no supporter of session.  He was 23 years of age and physically very handsome, imposing at over 6' tall with a lean and muscular body.  Cusson's hair was long and curly, brushed behind his ears and reached to his shoulders and was light brown in colour.  He had a large bushy moustache and a chin beard which reached to the top of his chest.  Cussons enlisted in an infantry company known as the Governor's guard, which was officially mustered into Confederate service as Company A of the Fourth Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment on May 2nd 1861.
The 4th Alabama’s became part of Brigadier E Bee’s brigade and General Bee quickly recognised Cusson’s panache for performing scout duties. On July 21st 1861 Cussons took part in the Battle of First Manassas. He would have witnessed Bee pointing his sword at Jacksons’ men and shouting ‘ Look at Jacksons brigade – it stands there like  a stone wall’, from where we get the nickname Stonewall Jackson. Following this Confederate Victory Cusson spent the winter encamped around Dumfries and he and a handful of other men considered becoming owners of a ship to run the Union blockade, but were stopped from doing so. Such examples of his daring occur frequently in relationship to his wartime exploits.
In  May 1862 one of his most well known incidents occurred.  They were expecting Federal troops to land opposite West Point on the Pamunkey Rover and his commander (Brigadier General Whiting) wanted more information so sent Cussons who was a private out with Sargeant William Hartley to scout . Both were experienced scouts but decided to get near to the enemy to hear details.  They were found by 4 Federal officers and an exchange occurred in which Hartley and 2 of the Federals were killed. Cussons made it back to his own lines with valuable information.

Two weeks later his company took part in the Battle of Seven Pines and then by command of General Robert E Lee they were sent to re-inforce the army in the Shenandoah Valley with Stonewall Jackson.  Cusson was promoted from private to lieutenant and became a permanent member of Law’s staff.
On Dec 12th at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Law, with Cussons drove the Union infantry back with volleys of musketry and finally halted along the Richmond railroad track. After that , Cussons and the rest endured a tough winter with few supplies so that mules began eating wooden supply wagons.  To protect his men from enemy fire and the elements Longstreet urged his men to dig the first Fox holes used in modern warfare.
A daring assault by his scouts and sharpshooters was led by Cussons under the orders of Law on Thoroughfare Gap which caught the Federals by surprise.  In August Cussons was ordered to take scouts and sharpshooters and open communications with General Jackson without any support from the main column or any cavalry, take no part in any skirmish and to take no prisoners at all. He had to employ tactics that he had learned from the Indians to achieve this but did meet up with Jackson  and was active at the ensuing battle at Brawners Farm.  His scouts were in the front  and Law sent him to conduct a reconnaissance of the Federal battle lines opposite. Unfortunately, the Federals did the same and he was captured.  However, this was short lived as he escaped very shortly.
He continued to be involved in many of the battles , which must have been exhausting and dispiriting at times as they suffered many casualties. His commander eventually became Hood and Cussons was appointed ‘ Commander of the Scouts and sharpshooters, Laws brigade, Hoods Division, Lee’ s Army’. This is when the notorious Jessie Scout incident occurred which Cussons later wrote about and which he witnessed first hand.  It was a case of a very plausible Federal agent trying to hold up Hood’s assistance to Jackson  on Thoroughfare Gap by pretending to be a Confederate Scout.   He was found out and hung but achieved his aim of delaying them.
Examples of Cussons bravery or bravado litter these encounters – standing on five foot high earthworks  and peering at the enemy’s position and showing his contempt for their marksmanship.
He also achieved notoriety for fighting a duel with another commander – Major Alfred Belo who he accused of failing to re-inforce Fort Striblin effectively and thus forcing it to surrender.  They chose to duel with Mississippi rifles.  At the first round Belo put a minie ball through his hat and in the second round Cusssons clipped Belo’s shoulder .  it is said that Cussons stood there with his arms folded while his rifle was being reloaded and said they were ’doing damned bad shooting’.
He was involved in the battle of Gettysburg and endured 8 hours of hard marching over 24 miles of road to get there. Hood ordered the attack and Cussons charged across a ploughed field along with the rest of Law’s brigade and they were the first to emerge from Warfield Woods.  While charging at the double-quick they were fired upon by Federal batteries for almost half a mile until reaching a wall.  Behind this wall was a strong line of Federal Infantry who opened a heavy musket fire on the brigade.  In the end the position had to be taken with the bayonet, or in Cusson’s case, with revolver and sword.  It was deadly and fraught fighting from rock to rock, and Cussons was also having to carry orders between four brigades of the division. However, being unable to take Little Round Top, they withdrew to their position in Devil’s Den.  The next morning , 3rd July, was destined to be the last day Cussons spent with the Army of North Virginia.  As often there are two accounts of what happened.  The first was that he was sent to scout Little Round Top and was captured, the second, where there is more evidence, suggests that as the opposing skirmish lines were so close, he simply wandered too far in front of his own lines, seeking somewhere quiet to smoke his cigar.
By the end of August he found himself imprisoned at Johnson’s Island on Lake Erie.  It was very sparse with a meagre diet, lack of fresh clothes and uncomfortable bedding of a bare handful of straw.  The temperatures  were 10-20 degrees below zero in that winter of 1863-64.
However, John once again proved himself adaptable to his surroundings and his earlier performances at his Uncle’s home helped him to become a major player and active promoter in the theatrical company established in the prison, to help the sick and wounded. 
How he got out of prison is another story with two  versions. The first is just that he was exchanged  in April 1864, but the other is more exciting and interesting.  It involves him breaking out of Johnsons Island, across Lake Eyrie and going south to find his old brigade.  But on finding that Law had been removed from command he asked the Confederate  government for leave or exemption as he wanted to visit England.
He settled in Glen Allen, just north of Richmond and met, Susan Ann Shepherd who had been widowed twice and was 13 years older .  They had a whirlwind romance and married in May 1864.
Here Cussons built Forest Lodge, which became known as the House of one hundred Rooms’ because of its size.  It was used to accommodate hunters and close friends and Cussons built small roads through the forest, digging artificial lakes and populating it with deer for hunting.  To fund this aristocratic lifestyle, Cussons built up his own publishing company and in particular perpetual calendars.
He also wrote at least 6 books and many articles and gave talks about his life and living with the Sioux.  He died January 4th 1912.
He may not have had the most glittering war career, but he embodies what we know about British immigrants who fought in the conflict.  Even though he was no supporter of Southern secession, he still believed that he should contribute, even though he could have exempted himself on the grounds of being British and taken a ship back and escaped the war.  But, the character we have come to know would probably have jumped at the chance for the excitement this war offered.
He proved that he was a charismatic and fearless leader on a number of occasions.  When he commanded the company of the men who made up the scouts and sharpshooters of law’s and Hood’s brigade, he led them with distinction.  At Thoroughfare Gap  in August 1862 it was these men who scared a whole Federal division into a confused night time retreat, and who made first contact with Stonewall Jackson’s wing of the Army in North Virginia on August 29th.  Just a matter of weeks later, Cussons would lead his men in the skirmishes that took place  in the West Woods and checked the advance of Joseph Hooker’s advance, stopping them from gaining a good  place for their attack which came the next morning.
When he was in prison, he showed another side of his character rather than the automated killing machine of three years of action. He would help his sick comrades and raise money through the theatrical group  to buy extra blankets and clothes for the sick prisoners.
Altogether a larger than life character who needed a bigger stage than the quiet life of a country town like Horncastle, but one who lived life to the full and achieved all his great ambitions and became rich and famous, even getting an obituary in the New York Times.

M Silverton 2015


Fighting alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings was his staunch defender, the Champion of the Dukes of Normandy, Sir Robert Marmion. The Manor of Scrivelsby was assigned to Sir Robert, as the King's Champion, thus heralding the beginning of this hereditary title that continues to this day.

Scrivelsby Court in the early 20th Century, demolished in 1956

Scrivelsby Court in the early 20th Century. It was demolished in 1956.

On the winding and picturesque road between Horncastle and Revesby lies the estate and park of Scrivelsby Court. Sheep and herds of red deer peacefully graze on the lands that have been associated with the King's (and Queen's) Champion for over 900 years.

Fighting alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings was his staunch defender, the Champion of the Dukes of Normandy, Sir Robert Marmion. Following the successful conquest, Sir Robert became the first King's Champion who would fight for the monarch's right to rule over England against any who dared to challenge. For his service as Champion at coronations, the Manor of Scrivelsby was assigned to Sir Robert, thus heralding the beginning of this hereditary title that continues to this day.

The Marmion family retained this title and duty until the death of Philip Marmion in 1292 who had four daughters but no male heirs. This left a void until 1350 when Philip's great grand daughter, Margaret, married Sir John Dymoke who then took up residence at Scrivelsby. Despite a challenge from another descendant Sir John successfully claimed the office of Champion and later performed his duty at the coronation of Richard II in 1377. The procedure and scene in the Great Hall of Westminster must have been splendid to witness.

The first to enter were two knights on horseback bearing the Champion's spear and shield followed by the Champion in a shining full suit of armour with a plume of feathers in his helmet. He was mounted on a richly decorated white horse that he had chosen from the King's Stables. At his side, also on horseback, were his escorts, the Earl Marshal and the Lord High Constable.

Following a trumpet blast, the York Herald read out the proclamation of challenge to anyone who denied the sovereign his right to the throne. The Champion then threw down his gauntlet to challenge any dissenter to mortal combat. After the third time the proclamation was read, and the gauntlet thrown, with no challengers stepping forward, the King was presented with a gold cup full of wine. The King then drank to the Champion and passed the cup to him. The Champion finished the drink and shouted "Long Live your Majesties" before withdrawing backwards. The cup was kept by the Champion as a fee for his services.

Lion Gateway to the estates built about 1530 by Sir Robert Dymoke, still standing today

Lion Gateway to the estates built c.1530 by Sir Robert Dymoke, still standing today

Down the centuries the monarchy came under threat and the encumbent Dymoke Champion had to make a stance. During the War of the Roses, Thomas Dymoke supported the Lancastrians which led to his beheading by the order of Edward IV. When the Civil War erupted, Charles Dymoke naturally supported the monarchy, even leaving £2,000 on his death to the king. Regrettably, for the family, the Parliamentarians seized power resulting in Edward Dymoke being fined the vast sum of £7,000 for bearing the "lewd and malicious title of King's Champion".

Although he was reinstated at the coronation of Charles II and knighted for "his loyalty and great sufferings both in person and estate", the family fortunes had been decimated. Despite this the Dymokes retained the Scrivelsby estates finally acheiving financial stability again in the 19th century thanks to the efforts of Sir Henry Dymoke.

The full ceremony, in all its glory, was last performed in 1821 when Sir Henry Dymoke acted as Champion at the coronation of George IV. Since Richard II, in 1377, there has been a Dymoke officiating at the coronations of 25 Kings and Queens of England. The present Honourable Queens Champion, Colonel John Marmion Dymoke MBE, was present in his office at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Magnificent suits of armour from Scrivelsby Court can be seen at the Tower of London.

The information above was taken from articles written by H. D. Martineau
and Peter Wilkes who we thank and give full credit to.

Edward Harrison studied in Edinburgh, and then in London under the Hunter brothers – John Hunter (1728-1793) and William Hunter (1718-1783). He obtained his doctorate at Edinburgh in 1784, visited Paris, and subsequently practiced for thirty years in Horncastle in Lincolnshire, where he founded, among other things, a dispensary, the Medical Society of Horncastle, and the Lincolnshire Benevolent Medical Society. He also established a charitable spinal infirmary in London in 1837.

Edward Harrison MD


The Dispensary in St Mary's Churchyard
The Dispensary in St Mary's Churchyard


In December 1789 the citizens of Horncastle welcomed the opening of  Lincolnshire's first Dispensary at No.2, St. Mary's Churchyard. This was the first of many beneficial projects instigated by the world famous botanist, Sir Joseph Banks.

The two original physicians employed were Edmund Laycock, who retired within a year; and Edward Harrison who was to devote 32 years to his vocation in Horncastle. During his working life, of almost 50 years, his efforts and his methods of practise became known throughout the United Kingdom and the world at large. He became the subject of adulation, ridicule and controversy which still continues to this day!

Alongside his care to the sick and infirm, he was determined to implement a Medical Reform bill through parliament to regulate the licensing of medical practitioners in every sphere of medicine. This was prompted by the vast amount of unregulated "quacks" who were doing immeasurable harm to the public. With the support of his friend, and patient, Sir Joseph Banks, his crusade was to last 12 years, before being defeated by the Royal College of Physicians in London, who feared they would lose some of their power and influence.

Despite this set back to his ambitions, he expanded his interests by caring for the insane in his private asylum at 30 West Street, Horncastle. He also nurtured the talents of young medical graduates, the most notable being E.P.Charlesworth who later diligently served for 33 years at the Lincoln Asylum. Harrison also became the highly regarded physician to the father and uncle of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at nearby Somersby.

Edward Harrison's house at 30 West Street (house in centre of picture)
Edward Harrison's house at 30 West Street
(The house is in the centre of the picture)


In 1817 his wife Margaret died, resulting in Harrison making preparations for his retirement from medicine. These plans were cancelled the following year when he wed his second wife, Charlotte Chaplin, from Tathwell Hall. Her cousin was suffering from a spinal deformity which roused the compassion and curiosity of Harrison. He developed a new method involving the massage and manipulation of individual vertebrae that he concentrated on for the rest of his life, and lead to his world wide fame, or notoriety. He cured Charlotte's cousin within a year, enabling her to return to the social activities that she had previously abandoned, due to her discomfort.

Harrison resigned from the Dispensary in 1821 to pursue and promote his new cure in London, by which time over 10,000 patients from all over the county had received treatment in this small market town.

His remaining 17 years in London were to bring even more conflict with the Royal College of Physicians, who took him to court for practising without their license. Harrison went on to cure patients with extreme deformities and restore the use of previously paralysed limbs. His attempts to promote his new method within the more conservative and staid medical community was generally met with scorn and derision.

His ambition to open a Spinal Infirmary charity for the poor was achieved in 1837, one year before his death, at the age of 78. Casts of his patient's backs, before and after his treatment, were distributed throughout the world to practitioners who admired his methods.

Harrison was buried in Horncastle not far from the Dispensary and a white marble memorial commissioned in St. Mary's church. A further memorial plaque was positioned above the entrance to the second Dispensary in North Street built in 1866. His charitable infirmary in London was to continue for at least a further 30 years after his death, during which time they treated a patient referred by Queen Victoria.

Harrison's methods formed the foundation of the modern Chiropractor.


Edward Harrison's Memorial in St Mary's Church
Edward Harrison's Memorial in St Mary's Church


  • A biography of Edward Harrison is being contemplated, details of which will appear on this site, should it come to fruition.
  • A book has been published on Harrison's life and times entitled "A Victory Over Prejudice" details of which can be found on  www.edwardharrison.net
    Donations from sales will be given to the Civic Society.
  • This is an article about Edward Harrison which was submitted to the Horncastle News in July 2007. Please click here - HarrisonArticle.pdf to download the PDF document to your own computer.

Edward Stanhope MP (1840 - 1893)By a somewhat convoluted sequence of events, Edward Stanhope, born in London, became a respected benefactor to Horncastle and its people.

The lordship of the Manor of Horncastle had been held by the various Bishops of Carlisle since 1229 and leased to the grandfather of Sir Joseph Banks in 1714. This was inherited by Sir Joseph and upon his death in 1820 the title passed onto his wife, thereafter the lease was inherited by the Stanhope family.

During the time that James Banks Stanhope held the lease he took the opportunity to purchase it when the see of Carlisle relinquished ownership of the title in 1856. The estates and Lordship of the Manor of Horncastle were inherited, from his cousin, by Edward Stanhope in 1885.

Edward Stanhope was educated at Harrow School and Christ Church, Oxford where he studied law. In 1874 he was elected as the conservative Member of Parliament for Mid Lincolnshire. This constituency was abolished in 1885 and Stanhope became MP for the new constituency of Horncastle. During his nineteen years in Parliament Stanhope held many important offices including Under Secretary of State for India, President of the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for the Colonies and Secretary of State for War.

In an act of generosity, Stanhope offered the Market Place, The Wong, the Pig Market and their respective revenue in tolls to the Local Board of Health for the benefit of the people of Horncastle. At a public meeting in 1892 the people passed a resolution accepting the valuable gift that had been in private hands for nearly seven centuries. Around this time the old buildings that stood on the Market Place were demolished leaving us with the clear area we see today.

When Stanhope died of a heart attack in 1893 a memorial was erected in the Market Place leaving us with a permanent reminder of his generosity towards the town and its people.

An early photograph of the Stanhope Memorial with Sellwood House in the background.
Early photograph of the Stanhope Memorial -- Sellwood House in background


High Street, Horncastle.  Note the sunblinds and thatched roofs of the shops
High Street, Horncastle
Note the sunblinds and thatched roofs of the shops on
the right which were demolished to form the present
open space of the Market Place


Market buildings - 1890 - soon to be demolished.
Market buildings in 1890 - soon to be demolished

Sir Joseph Banks (1743 - 1820)Sir Joseph Banks British explorer and naturalist who, as long-time president of the Royal Society, London, became known for his promotion of science.

Joseph Banks studied at Oxford from 1760 to 1763, during which time he inherited a considerable fortune. After graduating, he travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1766, collecting plant and other specimens.

In 1768 he led the Royal Society delegation on a voyage around the world with Captain James Cook, during which time they landed in New Zealand, at Poverty Bay, in 1769. While there, Banks described a great number of plants found in the area and wrote detailed descriptions of the Maori people who lived there.

His scientific account of the voyage and its discoveries sparked considerable interest in Europe, encouraging European settlement near the Pacific islands.


Horncastle Connection

Although the achievements of Banks are widely acknowledged, both nationally and internationally, his affection for, and contributions to his home town of Horncastle is less well appreciated.

Through his endeavours the foundations were laid that would lead to the improved health, well being and prosperity to the people and businesses in and around Horncastle.

Sir Joseph Banks was the driving force behind:-

  • The drainage of the Wildmore Fens to the south of Horncastle leading to the reclamation of fertile land for farming.
  • The formation, and patronage, of Lincolnshire's first dispensary, in Horncastle, supplying medical treatment to the poor. This included free vaccinations against small pox.
  • Annual fund raising balls, on behalf of the dispensary, held at the assembly rooms of the Bull Hotel.
  • Replacing the Open Field system with Land Enclosure resulting in greater opportunities for individuals and families to farm and build houses on their own land.
  • The establishment, patronage and construction of the Horncastle Navigation canal opening a trade route to the River Witham and beyond.
  • The formation and patronage of the Medical Society of Horncastle and the Lincolnshire Benevolent Medical Society.
  • Edward Harrison's crusade to bring about Medical Reform through a Parliamentary bill.
  • The formation and patronage of the first British School in Horncastle built on his land with trees he supplied from Revesby Abbey.

Affectionately known by locals as "Cousin Joe", Banks dedicated much of his valuable time to the welfare and prosperity of the Horncastle townsfolk.

Until recently, the only trace of Banks in Horncastle is his Town House in the High Street adorned with a commemorative Blue Plaque.

But now, mainly due to the vision and determination of Paul Scott and Jean Burton, the Sir Joseph Banks Society and Sir Joseph Banks Centre are being established and opened here in his home town.

William Marwood (1820–1883), a cobbler, of Church Lane, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England at the age of 54 persuaded the governor of Lincoln prison to allow him to conduct an execution.

The efficient way in which he conducted the hanging of William Frederick Harry (or Horry) without a hitch on 1 April 1872 assisted him in being appointed hangman by the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, for which he was paid a retainer of £20 a year plus £10 per execution.

Marwood developed the "long drop" technique of hanging, which ensured that the prisoners' neck was broken instantly at the end of the drop, resulting in the prisoner dying of asphyxia while unconscious. This was undoubtedly kinder than the slow death by strangulation caused by the "short drop" method, which was particularly distressing to prison governors and staff who were required to witness executions at a close distance following the abolition of public executions in 1868.


In his nine years as a hangman, Marwood executed 178 people, including:

  • Charles Peace, the archetypal Victorian burglar and murderer, whose name struck terror in the hearts of everyone at the time. Hanged at Armley Jail, Leeds, Yorkshire, on 25 February 1879.
  • Kate Webster, an Irish servant girl who murdered her mistress with an axe. Hanged at Wandsworth Prison, London, on 29 July 1879.
  • Percy Lefroy Mapleton, who murdered Isaac Frederick Gold on a train between London and Brighton for his watch and some coins. Mapleton was arrested almost immediately, but escaped before being arrested again, convicted, and hanged on 29 November 1881.
  • Joe Brady and four other members of the Irish National Invincibles gang who murdered Lord Frederick Cavendish, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, the Permanent Undersecretary for Ireland, with surgical knives in Dublin's Phoenix Park. They were hanged at Dublin's Kilmainham Jail in 1883.

In Marwood's time there was a popular rhyme which went:

If Pa killed Ma
Who'd kill Pa?

This is a letter written by William Marwood on Saturday 10th April 1875

(click thumbnail to enlarge)

William Marwood's Executions

Compiled by Robert Pendell

William Marwood was an Executioner from 1872, becoming the official Crown Executioner in 1874 through to his death in September 1883.  His main occupation was as a cobbler, his shop and home he shared with his wife Ellen still exist in Horncastle today.
Although poorly educated he devised a more humane method of execution resulting in a quick end, in contrast to his predecessor William Calcraft, who lacked his compassion and strong religious beliefs.  He enjoyed his fame, or notoriety, and was no doubt delighted to receive an invitation from Madame Tussauds to attend sittings, enabling them to reproduce his likeness for their Chamber of Horrors.
What follows is a list of all the people he executed, ages, dates and prison locations, illustrating the extent of his travels and to remind us of the personal tragedies he confronted on a regular basis.  Every individual who faced Marwood in their last seconds undoubtedly had a tale to tell.  What were their upbringings like, what hardships did they face, what were their needs and aspirations?  When we take into account the comparatively unsophisticated policing methods of the day, we can perhaps pose the question, were some of his "victims" innocent?
Whatever the circumstances, the law dictated that they should be hanged by the neck until dead, resulting in letters being written by Prison Governers requesting the services of William Marwood, Executioner, Church Lane, Horncastle, Lincolnshire.


Note:  The exact total is 178, far less than the often quoted figure of 350 to 400.

-- 1872 --

  • April 1st 1872 - Lincoln - William Frederick Horry (28)

-- 1873 --

  • August 26th 1873 - Omagh - Thomas Hartley Montgomery

-- 1874 --

  • January 5th 1874 - Durham - Charles Dawson, Thomas Corrigan, Edward Gough
  • June 29th 1874 - Newgate - Francis Stewart (49)
  • August 10th 1874 - Exeter - John Macdonald
  • August 24th 1874 - Usk - James Henry Giggs
  • August 31st 1874 - Liverpool - Henry Flanagan (22), Mary Williams (40, female)
  • October 13th 1874 - Horsemonger Lane - John Walter Coppen (37)
  • November 16th 1874 - Winchester - Thomas Smith
  • December 28th 1874 - Durham - Hugh Daley
  • December 29th 1874 - Stafford - Robert Taylor (21)

-- 1875 --

  • January 4th 1875 - Newgate - James Cranwell (59)
  • March 24th 1875 - Sligo - James McDaid
  • March 29th 1875 - Chelmsford - Richard Coates
  • March 30th 1875 - Maidstone - John Morgan (19)
  • April 9th 1875 - Clonmel - John Russell
  • April 19th 1875 - Liverpool - Alfred Thomas Heap
  • April 26th 1875 - Bristol - William Hale
  • July 27th 1875 - Warwick - Jeremiah Corkery (20)
  • August 2nd 1875 - Durham - Michael Gillingham (22), William McHugh, Elizabeth Pearson (32, female)
  • August 9th 1875 - Lincoln - Peter Blanchard
  • August 11th 1875 - Jersey - Joseph Phillip Le Brun
  • August 16th 1875 - Lancaster - William McCullough (36), Mark Fiddler (24)
  • September 6th 1875 - Liverpool - William Baker, Edward Cooper (33)
  • October 5th 1875 - Glasgow - Patrick Docherty (21)
  • October 19th 1875 - Dumbarton - David Wardlaw
  • December 21st 1875 - Newgate - Henry Wainwright (37)
  • December 22nd 1875 - Newcastle - John William Anderson
  • December 23rd 1875 - Morpeth - Richard Charlton

-- 1876 --

  • March 28th 1876 - Morpeth - George Hunter (23)
  • April 4th 1876 - Maidstone - Thomas Fordred (48)
  • April 10th 1876 - St. Albans - George Hill
  • April 24th 1876 - Bristol - Edward Deacon
  • April 25th 1876 - Cardiff - Joseph Webber (63)
  • April 26th 1876 - Belfast - John Daly (47)
  • May 23rd 1876 - Newgate - Giovanni Caccaris (Mutineer), Pascaler Caladis (Mutineer), Matteo Corgalis (Mutineer), George Kadi (Mutineer)
  • May 31st 1876 - Glasgow - Thomas Barr
  • July 14th 1876 - Liverpool - William Fish (26)
  • July 26th 1876 - Durham - John Williams (37)
  • August 1st 1876 - Maidstone - James Parris (27)
  • August 14th 1876 - Liverpool - Richard Thompson (22)
  • August 21st 1876 - Armagh - Steven McKeown
  • August 25th 1876 - Cork - Christos Emanuel Baumbos, Thomas Crowe (63)
  • August 29th 1876 - Newgate - John Ebblethrift
  • December 11th 1876 - Newgate - Charles O' Donnell
  • December 14th 1876 - Cambridge - Robert Browning (25)
  • December 19th 1876 - Horsemonger Lane - Silas Barlow
  • December 20th 1876 - Leicester - John Green (41)
  • December 21st 1876 - Manchester - William Flanagan (35)

-- 1877 --

  • January 2nd 1877 - Horsemonger Lane - Isaac Marks (23)
  • March 12th 1877 - Reading - Henry Tidbury (24), Francis Tidbury (27)
  • March 26th 1877 - Lincoln - William Clark
  • March 27th 1877 - Manchester - John McKenna (25)
  • April 2nd 1877 - Chester - James Bannister
  • April 17th 1877 - Warwick - Frederick Edwin Baker
  • July 31st 1877 - Leicester - John Henry Starkey (28)
  • August 13th 1877 - Chester - Henry Leigh (23)
  • August 14th 1877 - Horsemonger Lane - Caleb Smith (38)
  • August 21st 1877 - Liverpool - John Golding, Patrick McGovern
  • October 15th 1877 - Newgate - John Lynch (26)
  • November 12th 1877 - Newgate - Thomas Benjamin Pratt
  • November 19th 1877 - Exeter - William Hassell
  • November 20th 1877 - Norwich - Henry Marsh (50)
  • November 21st 1877 - Nottingham - Thomas Grey
  • November 23rd 1877 - Dolgelly - Cadwaller Jones (25)
  • November 27th 1877 - Leicester - James Satchell (28), John William Swift (19), John Upton (32)

-- 1878 --

  • February 4th 1878 - Manchester - George Piggott (29)
  • February 11th 1878 - Winchester - James Caffyn
  • February 12th 1878 - Liverpool - James Trickett
  • February 13th 1878 - Nottingham - John Brooks
  • April 1st 1878 - Oxford - Henry Rowles (26)
  • April 15th 1878 - York - Vincent Knowles Walker (48)
  • May 31st 1878 - Edinburgh - Eugene Marie Chantrelle (44, female)
  • July 29th 1878 - Chelmsford - Charles Joseph Revell (25)
  • July 30th 1878 - Durham - Robert Vest
  • August 12th 1878 - Nottingham - Thomas Cholerton
  • August 15th 1878 - Bodmin - Selina Wadge (female)
  • October 3rd 1878 - Cupar - William McDonald
  • October 8th 1878 - Wandsworth - Thomas Smithers (31)
  • November 12th 1878 - Northampton - John Patrick Byrne (38)
  • November 18th 1878 - Usk - Joseph Garcia (21)
  • November 19th 1878 - Manchester - James McGowan (55)
  • November 25th 1878 - Huntingdon - Henry Gilbert (30)

-- 1879 --

  • January 10th 1879 - Limerick - Thomas Cunceen
  • February 4th 1879 - Maidstone - Stephen Gambrill (28)
  • February 10th 1879 - Worcester - Enoch Whiston (21)
  • February 11th 1879 - Lancaster - William McGuiness (40)
  • February 25th 1879 - Leeds - Charles Frederick Peace (46)
  • March 24th 1879 - Newgate - James Simms (43)
  • May 12th 1879 - Gloucester - Edwin Smart (35)
  • May 20th 1879 - Manchester - William Cooper (42)
  • May 26th 1879 - Taunton - Catherine Churchill (55, female)
  • May 27th 1879 - York - John D'Arcy (22)
  • May 28th 1879 - Liverpool - Thomas Johnson (20)
  • July 29th 1879 - Wandsworth - Catherine Webster (30, female)
  • August 11th 1879 - Exeter - Annie Tooke (female)
  • August 25th 1879 - Newgate - James Dilley (41)
  • August 26th 1879 - Warwick - John Ralph (28)
  • December 3rd 1879 - Ipswich - Henry Beddingfield (46)

-- 1880 --

  • January 5th 1880 - Newgate - Charles Surety (29)
  • January 16th 1880 - Galway - Martin McHugo
  • February 17th 1880 - Manchester - William Cassidy
  • March 2nd 1880 - Liverpool - Hugh Burns, Patrick Kearns
  • March 22nd 1880 - Newgate - John Wingfield (34)
  • April 14th 1880 - Omagh - Peter Conway
  • May 10th 1880 - Aylesbury - William Dumbleton
  • May 11th 1880 - York - John Henry Wood
  • July 27th 1880 - Maidstone - Thomas Berry (37)
  • August 16th 1880 - Derby - John Wakefield (28)
  • November 16th 1880 - Durham - William Brownless (22)
  • November 26th 1880 - St. Albans - Thomas Wheeler
  • November 27th 1880 - Bristol - William Joseph Diston (35)
  • December 13th 1880 - Newgate - William Herbert (44), George Pavey (29)

-- 1881 --

  • February 21st 1881 - Chester - William Stanway
  • February 28th 1881 - Derby - Albert Robinson (20)
  • May 1st 1881 - Liverpool - Joseph Patrick McEntire (42)
  • May 17th 1881 - Maidstone - Albert Moore (23)
  • May 23rd 1881 - Leeds - James Hall (53)
  • August 15th 1881 - Nottingham - Thomas Brown
  • August 23rd 1881 - Maidstone - George Durling (36)
  • November 24th 1881 - Derby - Alfred Gough (34)
  • November 28th 1881 - Manchester - John Aspinall Simpson (23)
  • November 29th 1881 - Lewes - Percy Lefroy Mapleton (22)

-- 1882 --

  • January 31st 1882 - Devizes - Charles Gerrish (70)
  • February 13th 1882 - Manchester - Richard Templeton (36)
  • April 28th 1882 - Wandsworth - George Henry Lamson (29)
  • May 16th 1882 - Durham - Thomas Fury
  • May 22nd 1882 - Norwich - William George Abigail (19)
  • May 23rd 1882 - Leeds - Osmond Otto Brand (27)
  • August 21st 1882 - Liverpool - William Turner
  • September 11th 1882 - Limerick - Francis Hynes
  • September 22nd 1882 - Galway - Patrick Walsh
  • November 13th 1882 - Bodmin - William Meager Bartlett
  • November 28th 1882 - York - Edward Wheatfall
  • December 4th 1882 - Liverpool - Bernard Mullarkey (19)
  • December 12th 1882 - Wandsworth - Charles Taylor
  • December 15th 1882 - Galway - Patrick Casey, Miles Joyce, Patrick Joyce

Note the increase in Irish executions

-- 1883 --

  • January 2nd 1883 - Maidstone - Louisa Jane Taylor (37, female)
  • January 15th 1883 - Galway - Patrick Higgins (55)
  • January 17th 1883 - Galway - Michael Flynn, Thomas Higgins
  • January 23rd 1883 - Tralee - Thomas Barrett, Silvester Poff
  • February 12th 1883 - Manchester - Abraham Thomas (24)
  • February 19th 1883 - Lincoln - James Anderson
  • April 30th 1883 - Cork - Timothy O'Keefe (20)
  • May 7th 1883 - Lincoln - Thomas Garry
  • May 8th 1883 - Chester - Patrick Carey
  • May 14th 1883 - Dublin - Joseph Brady
  • May 18th 1883 - Dublin - Daniel Curley (31)
  • May 21st 1883 - Taunton - Joseph Wedlake, George White
  • May 23rd 1883 - Glasgow - Henry Mullen, Martin Scott
  • May 28th 1883 - Dublin - Michael Fagan
  • June 2nd 1883 - Dublin - Thomas Caffrey
  • June 9th 1883 - Dublin - Timothy Kelly
  • August 6th 1883 - Durham - James Burton (33)

# THE INVINCIBLES - Irish Nationalists convicted of Murder

William Marwood died in September 1883.