To support the Find A Grave Global Community weekend taking place on Friday, 16th October – Sunday, 18th of October, the team from the Ancestry UK office recently visited our local cemetery in Hammersmith, London to help respond to some of the open photo requests listed.
On a rainy October Monday (perfect mise en scène for a graveyard visit, you might say), we headed to Margravine Cemetery (known as Hammersmith Old Cemetery on the Find A Grave) to try and track down the 15 headstones on the list.
We split into two groups, each taking a bunch of yellow roses (as a symbol of remembrance) so we could mark the grave of each photo request we were able to fulfill, and it was more of a challenge than initially anticipated!
We started off well, locating one name on the war memorial at the entrance to the graveyard. However, the remaining 14 headstones proved more elusive. Perhaps our eyes were simply not keen enough or maybe they rested amongst some of the headstones whose names were illegible due to age, wear and weathering.
After an hour of fruitless searching, we reluctantly turned and started to head back in the direction of the Ancestry office. But on our way out of the cemetery, our colleague Jack spotted the impressive headstone (pictured) that marked the grave of Charles Morton – listed amongst the outstanding photo requests. Jackpot!
We promptly uploaded the photo of Charles’ headstone to his Find a Grave memorial page, where his biography could also be found.
Born in October 1833, Charles came from humble beginnings – he was raised in Ayrshire, Scotland as the son of a coal agent. However by the age of 17 he’d responded to the call of the ocean, moving to Glasgow to become a sailor, before progressing to the role of Assistance Surgeon in His Majesty’s Royal Navy by the time he was 20-years-old. He rose to the rank of Royal Navy Fleet Surgeon in February of 1875 and served on the HMS Iron Duke, Flagshire of China Station (Singapore, Tamar and Hong Kong). Charles retired as Fleet Surgeon in September 1887, but was given a position as Inspector General of Hospitals and Fleets, Honorary Member. He lived in West Kensington, London until his death in 1910.
Uploading the photo of Charles’ grave allowed us to get in touch with the person who had submitted the image request – James Morton, a Canadian whose ancestry links back to Scotland (and Charles) on his paternal side. James has kindly allowed us to share the story of his ancestor Charles, and we’ve enjoyed learning about some of the other stories he’s discovered through his research.
Although we weren’t able to fulfil all of the outstanding picture requests, it was a worthwhile trip – we were able to get to know our local cemetery better, support the Find A Grave community, Charles’ descendant and make friends with a few inquisitive squirrels along the way.
We also spotted a few of the more unusual and impressive headstones in the cemetery. See those photos below.
To find out more about the Find A Grave Global Community Day, see this blog post.
(Many thanks to Find A Grave and Ancestry member James Morton for this further detail on Charles’ life)