Security For King George IV’s Coronation

On this drizzle-dismal day Jackie cut my hair and I scanned another batch of Black and White negatives from

Brompton Cemetery in September 2008. The entrance gates bear the name of West London and Westminster Cemetery Company which opened the facility in 1840. Freshly dug graves, awaiting the settling of the soil, occupy the foreground of the penultimate picture.

Two notable tombs in Brompton are those of pugilist John “Gentleman” Jackson, shared with his beloved niece and adopted daughter, Elizabeth; and of actor and dramatist Henry Pettitt.

Jackson (1769-1845) lies beneath the apt figure of a lion. ‘He was considered an exceptional amateur boxer prior to 1788. On 9 June 1788, aged around nineteen, Jackson defeated William Futrell at Smithham Bottom, England, in a bout lasting one hour, seven minutes.[1] Futrell was a giant of a man, undefeated, and held a string of 18 victories, when he faced the younger Jackson.[4]

In his second bout on 12 March 1789, against John Ingleston, on a rainy day at Ingatestone, England, he lost in five rounds, in a bout lasting twenty minutes and suffered a broken leg, not entirely uncommon during the brutal English bouts of the late 18th century. His injury was likely caused by a slip from the muddy ground. Many present believed Jackson would have won the bout if not for his unfortunate accident. Likely distressed by his injury, he announced his retirement after his loss, but would return six years later in his most important win.[2][1]‘ (Wikipedia)

In 1795 he defeated Daniel Mendoza to become Champion of All England from which he retired the following year. In 1803 he opened a Boxing Academy in London’s Bond Street. ‘Jackson’s academy was popular with the nobility and gentry and became a profitable business. His friend, the famed English poet George Gordon Byron, known as Lord Byron, an avid boxing fan, related in his diary that he regularly received instruction in boxing from Jackson. Jackson also profited from providing exhibitions for English and foreign lords and celebrities. Included among those for whom he arranged exhibitions were the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia, the Prince of Wales, and the Prince of Mecklenburg. Jackson’s introduction of the sport to English and European royalty, made boxing a more admired and to some extent accepted sport in England.[2] Jackson was charitable and held benefits for numerous charities, once raising £114 for a Portuguese town destroyed by the French, and later £132 for the benefit of British prisoners in France.[3]‘ (Wikipedia)

His Pugilistic Club, in which he arranged fights adhering to honest rules, followed in 1814. ‘In 1821, Jackson was asked to supply a force of unarmed men to preserve order at [3] King George IV’s Coronation, where he also served as a page. With his boxing connections, he selected 18 prizefighters to protect the King, and to keep back those unauthorized to attend.[1][3]‘ (Wikipedia)

Henry Alfred Pettitt (7 April 1848 – 24 December 1893), was a British actor and dramatist [whose portrait appears in bas-relief on his monument] .

With Augustus Harris, he wrote the play Burmah, produced on Broadway in 1896. With G. R. Sims, he created a substantial body of very successful works, including In the Ranks (1883, 457 performances at the Adelphi Theatre) and The Harbour Lights (1885, 513 performances at the Adelphi). Their Gaiety Theatre musical burlesques included Faust up to date (1888), which remained a hit for several years and coined a new meaning for the phrase “up-to-date”, meaning “abreast” of the latest styles and facts. Their next hit was Carmen up to Data (1890). Both of these were composed by the Gaiety’s music director, Meyer Lutz.’

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Malbec 2019.


  1. Wonderful black and whites, Derrick, and what a fascinating character Jackson was! I’ve heard of “Gentleman Jackson” but didn’t know details of his rich biography.

  2. I love the black and white photos, Derrick. Did I ever tell you I worked in a cemetery when I first moved to Charlotte? I always thought of the untold stories and buried dreams. It sounds like you had a perfect end to the day with Hordle Chinese Take Away fare! Yum!

  3. I must admit, the deeply important accounts of John Jackson and Henry Pettitt in the British history were hitherto unknown to me and would have passed entirely as such but for the intervention from the scans of your black and white films exposed in Brompton Cemetery in 2008. Those grand memorial tombs befit the stature of the two Goliaths in their fields, whose supremely rich careers lift the sombre mood created by the freshly dug graves.

  4. Impressive! I didn’t know you could scan negatives. I have some negatives and a bunch of slides that belonged to my parents. Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to do something with them.

  5. There is something about an old cemetery … the shapes of the graves, the language used at certain times in our history, the gentle erosion of time along with lichen, ants, beetles and plants … the stories that unfold if one is patient enough to look and to listen …

  6. Interesting AND fascinating history! I think it’s an honor to stand before someone’s final resting place, like that, and honor them by acknowledging their life and their contributions to the world. 🙂
    Love that lion sculpture! Quite the majestic kingly expression. 🙂
    How interesting and smart to have prizefighters be security for the King! 🙂
    The monochrome-ness to the photos adds texture, details, a sense of the passage of time, and the feelings of stillness and solemness.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  7. I was surprised to see fresh graves in the cemetary. It looks as though it wasn’t mowed. I enjoyed the well-research information about “Gentleman” Jackson. I was wondering where the protection of the king was going to come in!

  8. Fascinating. I was at college in Chelsea in the ’50s and often walked through Brompton Cemetery. Wish I’d paid more attention to it at the time. Thanks for your tour, Derrick.

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