There are many interesting gravestones in the churchyard at Holy Cross but it wasn’t until the sun fell across this inscription one afternoon that I took note of it. It reads “In Memory of Samuel Malcher Esq. Late Captain in the Second or Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot He died January the 23rd 1782 Aged 50 Years”. You can see the foot stone marked S.M. 1782 just beyond his headstone, on the left of the image. It is likely that his burial service was conducted by Edward Betham.
Captain Malcher was the son of a well connected London businessman, his maternal grandfather was William Poyntz who served as British Consul General in Lisbon. He may have been posted to Ireland but is on record as being in the Isle of Man in 1762 because he gets a mention in the marvellously titled “A List of the general and field-officers, as they rank in the army : of the officers in the several regiments of Horse, Dragoons, and Foot, on the British and Irish establishments ; (to which is now added, an alphabetical index) ; the Royal Regiment of Artillery, Irish Artillery, Engineers, independent companies, and Marines on full and half pay ; with the dates of their commissions, as they rank in each Corps and in the army ; the Governors, Lieutenant-Governors, &c. of His Majesty’s garrisons at home and abroad, with their allowances ; all the officers on half-pay ; and a succession of colonels ; the whole complete to 1767.” I have failed to discover anything more about his military career but it sounds as though it was relatively quiet for the time. According to Gerry Hughes, adjutant of Pulteney’s Regiment (13th foot), a re-enactment group, it would have been safe for the period, because at the time British regiments were engaged around the world and soldiers faced death from tropical diseases as well as military action. Please take a look at Pulteney’s Regiment (13th foot) website for details of how to get involved or see them in action. The Second Queen’s Royal Regiment of Foot has evolved into The Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment and I recommend a visit to their website.
Captain Malcher wrote out his own will on the 31st December 1781 in Greenford, less than a month before he died, which was either very good timing or an indication that he knew that he was nearing the end of his life. The bequests include one of £50 to Harry John King at the Feathers Tavern in the Strand. A cook and a waiter who had known him from the Strand gave testimony to prove the will in February 1782 and my guess is that they worked at the same Tavern. It must have been a fascinating place, the venue for meetings of the Society for the Support of Decayed Musicians and other interesting people (click here to read a fascinating blog post about the London Corresponding Society).
He also left £100 to Captain Thomas Simes of Bushey in Hertfordshire, a fellow officer in his regiment who made a considerable name for himself as an author. You can still buy copies of his best known title, “Military Guide for Young Officers, containing a System of the Art of War”, first published in 1776 (I wonder how he felt when he learned that George Washington was keen to get hold of a copy of it?).
I have wondered how Captain Malcher ended up here because his family seem to have been based in London and Kent. It is easy to speculate about him based on the little that I know but I’ve wondered if, like me, he chose to live in Greenford simply because he liked it. His grave would have been surrounded by open fields in 1782 and he would only recognise the original church, Greenford Hall and the school house. You can see all these buildings when you stand by his grave. The Black Horse pub was in existence at the time but the Red Lion and the Load of Hay are gone.
Over the centuries other military personnel have been laid to rest in the same churchyard and I think it is entirely appropriate that they are all just across the road from the Greenford branch of Royal British Legion. This post is dedicated with respect to all those who serve and have served in the UK’s armed forces.
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