1881: Strange circumstances of Cuckfield churchyard interment

Updated: Mar 2


West Sussex County Times - Saturday 12 February 1881


ON Wednesday last week Capt. G. R. S. Bowlby, captain in the 94th Regiment, South Africa, was interred in the churchyard, Cuckfield, under somewhat remarkable circumstances.


In July last, being off duty, he was engaged in a tiger hunt, and driving a large specimen of the native leopard into a mealiefield (with which South Africa abounds) he followed it, the result being a regular tussle with the animal. During the struggle the captain was killed, his body being very much mutilated. He was interred in Africa, but being a friend of the Maberly family, of Myttons, in this town, they requested his burial here.

Cuckfield Churchyard where Captain Bowlby is buried

His body being exhumed, it was brought to Southampton in a zinc shell, and from thence conveyed to Haywards Heath station on Monday week. It was conveyed to Cuckfield in a hearse. and deposited in the church till the Wednesday, during which time an oak coffin was made for the reception of the shell. On the day named at noon, the funeral took place amid demonstrations of respect, the immediate relatives and friends coming by train from London to be present at the ceremony, and bearing numerous wreaths, immortelles, and floral crosses.


At the church an impressive choral service was rendered by the choir, and the Revs. F. J. Mount, J. C. B. Fletcher, and R. Talbot; Mr. White. the organist of the church, presided at the organ ; and the Rev. Canon Bowlby (a relative of the deceased) performed the service. A procession was formed from the church to the grave after the first part of the ceremony, and arrived at the resting place (a steined grave on the south side of the church); the service was continued by the Canon, the choir chanting and singing over the grave.

Memorial to Captain Bowlby

At the close of the service the coffin was artistically covered with wreaths, crosses, flowers, and immortelles, by loving hands. The brass shield on the coffin lid bore the inscription:


GEORGE RUSSELL SALVIN BOWLBY,

94th Regiment,

Born 3rd February, 1845,

Died 12th July, 1880.


Captain T. Maberly was amongst the mourners present. It is understood that a widow and child are left.