The death of Edward Bethel Codrington, aged nearly 8 years old
Against an entry in the Kilchrenan parish baptismal registers dated 25 August 1853, is the following:
Edward Bethel Codrington son of William John Codrington of 110 Eaton Square London, Colonel Coldstream Guards and Mary his wife, born September 29th 1845, accidentally drowned in Lochawe at Sonachan (across the Loch) on Thursday August 18, 1853 and buried in the parish church of Kilchrenan August 22nd 1853, the burial service being performed by Revd F Sullivan, vicar of Kempton, Hertfordshire.
This entry naturally engaged my curiosity so I did some quick searching on Family Search, Ancestry, Findmypast, FreeBMD and Google. This is what I found along the way.
Wikipedia gives a synopsis of Edward’s father’s career in the Army and also as a Member of Parliament. It also refers to his career and also his position as Colonel in the Coldstream Guards and includes a photo of him in 1855, shortly after his son’s death. The wiki refers to his family, with data which has some inaccuracies, and states his “other two children died young” whereas in fact, only Edward appears to have died as a child while the other child assumed to die young was Jane who lived to marry. His wife was Mary Ames.
And what do we learn from the IGI in regard to young Edward?
|WARD BETHEL CODRINGTON|
|Father:||WILLIAM JOHN CODRINGTON|
The above birth entry has the date correct but not the location. The 1851 census clearly states that Edward was born in Northamptonshire. This is confirmed by the birth registration found on FreeBMD in the December quarter of 1845 in the district of Wellingborough on the border of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.[i] At the time of the 1851 census Edward and his siblings, Jane and Mary, were living with a range of 9 servants at East Ashling, ?, in Sussex. Findmypast places this in Westbourne Sussex and indexes Edward with no surname while Ancestry lists it as in Funtington parish (which is part of Westbourne), Sussex. All the children are listed as sons/daughters even though no parents are present. Ancestry “solves” this problem by linking them to the widow in the previous household, Elizabeth Brinkworth and identifying Mary, aged 9, as a wife!
The children’s parents meanwhile were enumerated at their grandparents’ house in 110 Eaton Square in the parish of St George Hanover Square, possibly because former Admiral Edward Codrington, the children’s grandfather died on 28 April 1851, less than a month after the census was taken. Presumably William John and Mary Codrington had left the children with the governess and other servants. The family reappear in the census records of 1871 and 1881 but couldn’t be found in 1861, presumably because Sir William was then governor of Gibraltar.
And what of poor little Edward drowned in Scotland, possibly while the family were on holidays? Despite being the first son, and named for his august grandfather Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, his existence goes unremarked in the various official documentation of his parents’ lives including the Peerage lists. Similarly the public family trees on Ancestry make no reference to him either. Nevertheless we can assume that it was his family’s importance that led his death to be acknowledged in the Kilchrenan registers. If he had been the son of a poor cottager or crofter would it have even been entered in the books?
Ironically however his life is noted in the Scottish records of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS). Their item PA 186 refers to photograph albums, originally owned by the Revd J B Mackenzie, which include inter alia a photograph of family graves at Kilchrenan as follows:-
One erected by John Williams, Merchant in Campsie, in affectionate remembrance of Margaret Crawford Mackenzie who died at Kilchrenan manse, 10 August 1861 aged 22.
Beside it the grave of Elizabeth Mackenzie who died at Kilchrenan on 17 December 1864 aged 61.
Also the small grave of Edward Bethell Codrington, only son of Colonel Codrington, Coldstream Guards and Mary, his wife, born 29 September 1845, accidentally drowned in Loch Awe at Sonachan House, 15 August 1853.
Once again we encounter an anomaly with the tombstone stating a different date from that in the parish register. The minister notes the death on a Thursday which is correctly identified as 18 August so either the day was mistaken or there is an error on the tombstone.
How frustrating to have walked through the Kilchrenan kirk yard only six months ago, knowing nothing of this story.
[i] Births Dec 1845