Henry Buckingham, Naval Pensioner

The Battle of Trafalgar, J M W Turner, 1822 (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The Battle of Trafalgar by J M W Turner, 1822 (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Research into the 1841 census sometimes turns up an interesting nugget.  This is the case with Henry Buckingham of Broadhempston, aged 59, who is described as a Navy Pensioner.  Before going on, we need a little bit of background to the Napoleonic war at sea against France.  The Glorious First of June is still  commemorated by the Royal Navy, as of course is Trafalgar.  In the former case this took place West of Ushant off the Britanny coast on 1 June, 1794, and was seen as a great victory for Admiral Howe and the Royal Navy which sank seven of the French ships as against no loss of ship to us. The French took a different view as the supply ships under convoy made it to port. Everyone knows of Trafalgar, which culminated in victory over the French and Spanish fleets, on 21 October 1805, and in the death of Nelson on HMS Victory.

In 1847, twenty two years after Waterloo, applications for medals were recorded for those who served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic War between 1793 and 1815, and verified by the Flag Officers. Henry Buckingham’s name was one of those recorded. Naturally, we wanted to know what this meant, so a search of the Royal Navy records revealed that Henry was described as “Servant, Boy” on HMS Culloden, 74, under Captain Isaac Schomberg, at the Battle of 1 June, 1794,  and as “Marine” on HMS Mars, 74, under Captain George Duff, at Trafalgar.  Henry was recorded as  “Not Absent” and “Not Marked Run” (and therefore not a deserter) in both battles, and so qualified for the appropriate medals.

A few interesting details help to colour in these two events.  First of all at Ushant, Captain Schomberg was late at the battle and his career never recovered from the criticism following that, although he had served a distinguished if somewhat controversial career during the American War and after. Henry Buckingham would have been about eleven years old at the time of the battle, about the age of the children at our primary school who are thinking of their next move to secondary.  Health and safety and child protection were clearly not an issue two hundred and more years ago.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805 ex Longmans

Battle of Trafalgar, 1805 (F S Waller for Longmans Green & Co)

At Trafalgar, Captain Duff was killed on his quarter deck early in the battle when a cannon ball from Fougueux, a French frigate, struck him on the back of the neck, removing his head. The crew were undismayed, however, carrying the headless corpse around the deck and giving three cheers in memory of their captain, before covering him with the Union Flag where he had fallen.  There is a possibility that Henry Buckingham, as a Marine of about twenty two or three, was one of the party who did this. HMS Mars went on to fight with distinction for the rest of the battle.

Digging out snippets such as these of Henry Buckingham’s early life, linking ordinary people with great events, can provide a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure, which is what we in the Broadhempston Archive & Local History Group find.

This article was written by BALHG member Stuart Burgess in 2013, and was published in the Parish News.


Postcard Images of Broadhempston

Like many towns and villages, Broadhempston’s lanes and cottages have been the subject of a variety of postcards.

In 1904 Alfred Newton & Son produced several depicting life in our village.

St Peter & Paul's Church Broadhempston 27 May 1904 (Alfred Newton and Son)

Church of St Peter and St Paul

Village bakery and grocery store in the Square – now a private house called Moorview

Village Post Office until 1951 – now a private house also called Moorview

Group portrait in the lane outside Prestons (on the right), later Hope Cottage, and now Dale Cottage

Carved Pews

Copies of several pencil drawings came to light recently which match carvings on pews in St Peter & St Paul church.

We don’t know who produced these or undertook the carving, but it is clear they had considerable artistic talent.



We do know a little more about when they were produced.

From 1935, journalist and educator Arthur Mee undertook a perambulation of the whole of England. From this survey, he wrote a number of books under the collective title ‘The Kings England’; this became a topographical and historical series in 42 volumes.

In the Devon volume, first published in 1938, there is a reference to these carvings in the section on Broadhempston.

…when we called fine country scenes were being carved on the oak benches; among them scenes of a ploughman at work with birds hovering, a man sawing logs for his cottage fire, horses drinking, and apples on the way to the cider press…

20171023_125614358614967.jpgOnly one of the carved bench ends remains in the church at the present time, however as you can see it beautifully illustrates the carver’s skill.

If you have any more information about these carvings, the original pencil drawings, or who undertook the work, then please submit a comment below.

Broadhempston Tithe Apportionment 1841

The tithe was an annual payment of an agreed proportion (originally one-tenth) of the yearly produce of the land, which was payable by parishioners to support the parish church and its clergyman.  Originally tithes were paid ‘in kind’ (wool, milk, honey, fish, barley etc).  By 1836 tithes were still payable in most of the parishes in England and Wales, but the Government had decided on the commutation of tithes—in other words, the substitution of money payments for payment ‘in kind’ all over the country—and the Tithe Commutation Act was passed in 1836.

A survey of the whole of England and Wales was undertaken over a period of about 10 years from 1836.  This established the boundaries of land, acreage of fields, and states of cultivation.  From the survey, parish or district tithe maps showing all plots subject to tithe were produced.  When the overall value for the tithe in a parish or district had been determined, the tithe rent-charge was apportioned fairly among the lands of differing quality and various uses in the parish.  The Tithe Apportionment, linked to the map, was drawn up as a result.


Extract from the Tithe Map of 1841

Note the prevalence of orchards, the scatter of farms, and groups of cottages near the church and by the New Inn (now the Coppa Dolla).  In 1841, there were about 400 people in 60 houses and cottages in the parish.  In contrast, in 2001, there were 550 people in 180 houses and cottages.

Update as of November 2017: Devon County Council have published a full transcription of Broadhempston parish as part of their Tithe Apportionment Project, together with a high quality map.