Tuesday, May 29, 2012

1672 - State Funeral of the Earl of Sandwich

The picture above is instantly recognisable as a detail from Canaletto's The Thames on Lord Mayor's Day. In today's 'Independent' Adrian Hamilton about the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee river pageant  and refers to both the painting and the two well known state funerals (Nelson's and Churchill's) that took place on the river.

Not mentioned by Mr Hamilton, and almost entirely forgotten by historians, the state funeral of Edward Montagu, the 1st Earl of Sandwich went from Deptford to Westminster on 3 July 1672. Sandwich was Vice-Admiral of the Blue and at the Battle of Solebay his ship was attacked by a group of fire ships and was destroyed with the loss of many lives, including Sandwich himself, whose charred body was found washed ashore and only recognizable from the remains of his clothing.

The following report is from the London Gazette:

Whitehal, July3. This day was performed the Enterment of the Right Honourable Edward Earl of Sandwich, whose Body was taken up at Sea, after the late Engagement of His Majesties Fleet with the Dutch, in which this Noble Earl so extraordinarily signalized his Courage and Conduct that hIs Majesty out of a high sense of his Honour and Merit was pleased to order his Enterment to be at His Majesties expence; whereupon all things being prepared for the proceeding from Deptford, where the body was taken out of one of His Majesties Yachts, it was in the order following.

First, a Mourning Barge covered with Cloth, in which were the Standard and Guidon, born by two Gentleman of Quality, two Officers of Arms; Trumpets and Drums all in Mourning.

A second Barge also covered with Cloth, in which were six Officers of Arms in their Coats, bearing the Coats of Arms, Helm and Crest, and Sword, Targets Gauntlet and Spurs of the Defunct, the Great Banner being placed at the head of the Barge.

A third Barge covered with Velvet, in which was the Body covered with a large Sheet, and Pall of Velvet, adorned with Escutcheons, and an Earls Coronet Upon a Velvet Cushion at the head, six Bannerols being fastned On the outside of the Barge; at the head was the Flag of Union, and at the Stern six Trumpets with Banners, the top of the Barge was adorned with six Plumes of black feathers, and in the midst upon four Shields of his Arms, joyning in point, an Earl's Coronet.

The fourth Mourning Barge for the Chief Mourner, covered with Cloth without any Ornaments: after which their Majesties and Royal Highnesses Barges with divers others of the Nobility as well as the Lord Mayor, and the several Companies of the City; as the proceeding passed the Tower the Great Guns were discharged there.

In this order they pasted from Deptford, and about 5 a clock in the evening came to Westminster Bridge - where the Body was taken out of the Barge, and proceeded thence to the Abby in manner following.

The Marshals Men.
Four Conductors with black Staffs.
Fifty poor Men in Gowns.
Forty Watermen in Mourning Coats,
Drums and Trumpets.
Officers of Arms.
The Standard born by a person of Quality related to the defunct.
Servants to Gentlemen, Esquires and Knights.
Servants to the Defunct.
Officers of Arms.
The Guidon, born by a person of Quality of Relation to the defunct
      Gentlemen, Esquires, and Knights.

Chirurgeon, Physitian, Secretary, and Chaplains to the Defunct, in Mourning Gowns and Hoods.
The Steward , Treasurer, and Comptroler to the Defunct, with white Staffs, in Gowns and Hoods.

The Bishop of Oxon.
Sergeant Trumpeter.
Two Officers of Arms.

The Flag of the Union, and the great Banner born by two persons of Quality of Relation to the Defunct.

Six Officers of Arms bearing the Spurs, Gantlet, Helm, and Crest, Shield, Sword , and Coat of Arms.
A Coronet upon a Velvet Cushion , born by a King of Arms.
Then the Body, the Pall supported by four persons of Honor.
On each side of which, were the six Bannerols, carried by six persons of Quality, and of Relation to the Defunct.

After the Body, Garter Principal Kings of Arms, between two Gentlemen Ushers , preceding the chief Mourner, whose Train was born by a Gentleman, then followed 8 Earls Assistants, all in Mourning Gowns and Hoods; then divers of the Nobility, Privy Councel, and persons of Quality, according to their respective Dignities, preceded by a Gentleman Usher in short Mourning,

In this Order they proceeded to the West end of the Abbey, (through a double Lane of His Majesties Guard, who were drawn up On both sides the Streets,) where the Dean, Prebends, and Quire received them, and so up into Henry the Sevenths Chappel, where the Body was Enterred in a Vault, on the North Side of the Quire, which done, the Officers broke their White Staffs, and Garter proclaimed the Titles of this most Noble Earl Deceased.


  1. Don't understand the reference to Westminster Bridge, which wasn't built until about 80 years later. Is this a transcription error?

  2. Alan,

    No it is not a transcription error - the original London Gazette article copied is linked to above.

    The answer to the conundrum is to be found in Peter Cunningham's 'Handbook of London: past and present' (1850):

    "When we read in our old writers - and the allusions are common enough - of Ivy-bridge, Strand-bridge, Whitehall-bridge, Westminster-bridge, and Lambeth-bridge, landing piers alone are meant."