Friday, 6 May 2011

The earliest surviving headstone to a Hong Kong Police Constable ?

Atop a hillock right in the centre of the cemetery can be found what I believe to be the earliest surviving headstone to a Hong Kong Police Constable. The stone stands firm but leans slightly to one side reminding me of a member of the constabulary who has perhaps had one too many drinks!!

The headstone is now weatherworn and very few details are discernable but the name stands out clear and proud:

Sacred to the memory of Wm. SOUTHWELL, a native of Louth, Lincolnshire

There is no indication here to show that William was in any way connected with the Police but the burial register shows William to be a Police Constable aged 41, buried on 16 July 1858 in Grave Number 1700

William was not the normal poverty stricken police constable of the time for he smoked a meerschaum pipe and carried a silver watch & chain in his pocket. As he lay dying in the Government Civil Hospital one of his last wishes was that he be respectfully buried and that a stone be erected over his grave.

As I look at the old stone still standing on its hillock after 150 years I think to myself that William would have been pleased with the result.