Ken & Teresa Ripper's Ancestors and Family

Alexander Repper (1773 - 1841)

Royal Navy Marine - 2nd Class - HMS Aboukir 1808 - 1815



Descent to Ken Ripper


Alexander Repper (1773 - 1841)


Ann Hutchinson (abt1775 - 1835)

... their son

William Repper (1807 - 1870)


Mary (abt1807 - abt1836)

... their son

William Alexander Ripper (1827 - 1876)


Sarah Harvey (1830 - 1873)

... their son

Robert Francis Ripper (1859 - 1904)


Mary Ann Mills nee Chesman (1861 - 19xx)

... their son

William Ripper (1893 - 1951)


Eliza Florence Miller (1891 - 1971)

... their son

William Frederick Ripper (1916 - 1974)


Mary Ann Bullion (1922 -       )

... their son

Kenneth Robert Ripper (1949 -        )


Teresa Mary Oldridge (1949 -       )




Helston Market

Alexander Repper was born in Helston in Cornwall in 1773, the son of Alexander and Philippa Repper and their only known child. It was not unusual in Cornwall for the name Alexander to be shortened to Sandrie and this may be how he was known.

Alexander had a half sister and two half brothers - Mary Guy, John Guy & William Guy. Their mother Phillipa had previously married John Guy who had died. Phillipa died in Helston during August 1794.

Helston Parish Church


Alexander was baptised in Helston Parish Church (pictured) on the 16th March 1773. His half brother John Guy had a son baptised as William Guy in 1793 in the same Helston church.


Parish Register Entry of Alexander's Baptism in 1773


No other detail of his early life is known. The first recorded entry of his life after his baptism is his marriage to Ann Hutchinson in Hampstead, Middlesex in 1796 which identifies Alexander as a Cornish Dragoon.




Cornish Militia


Alexander joined the local Cornish Militia, sometimes called the Cornish Dragoons, in either 1794 or 1795 when Britain was preparing to defend itself against potential invasion from Napoleon's France.


Militias operated under the auspices of local dignitaries who would raise a local volunteer force, made up a group of local men who have access to a horse. The men may have been supplied with a carbine by the person raising the force. When saddled up they would collectively represent the local militia, in reality being nothing more than armed mounted yeomen.


The local family with the responsibility for raising the force in Helston was most likely to have been the Vivyans on behalf of the Basset family.


The following is a copy of a notice which first occurs in 1794:

Badge worn on the shoulder belt of the Cornish Fencible Dragoons

Cornwall Militia Badge




A Corps of Fencible Light Cavalry commanded by


Colonel Commandant Sir Francis Bassett Major


Wanted, in Sir FRANCIS BASSET'S TROOP, some active Young Men, who are desirous of resisting French Anarchy & Confusion, and are willing to defend their KING and NATIVE COUNTRY, against all foreign Invaders. All persons who feel themselves inclined to enter, are desired to apply to at when they shall receive a handsome Bounty, be received into present pay, and may depend on the kindest Treatment. The Corps is not to go out of Great Britain, and is only to serve during the War. Persons entering will receive full Dragoon Pay, and will be mounted on Capital Horses.



The leading authority on Cornish Militia is a Professor A C (Charles) Thomas of St Clement, Cornwall. He has written to me (3 September 1996) as follows:


"I think it is fairly certain that your ancestor was in the (Royal) Cornwall (Fencible) Dragoons and was a Fencible, not a Volunteer. This would explain an aspect that rather puzzled me - enlistment in the Marines, like the regular infantry, would normally be via service in the Militia ... volunteers were very seldom wanted in the regulars because they were insufficiently trained or not the right standard. Men used to join the Militia to be 'fed up' to the right height and weight!"


The uniform of the Fencibles was a red jacket with black facings and white lace, a leather Light Dragoon helmet being surrounded by a yellow "turban" or pagri.


Professor Thomas doubts the ability of this force to resist an invasion from the French, the prime reason for setting them up, but advises that they did become an effective local "police" force. He also advises that these forces were frequently used to control public disturbances.


The British economy had been weakened by many years of war and the cost of food was high. The poorer members of society expressed their dissatisfaction in many ways, one being the "Bread Riots". There were several civil disturbances in 1795 leading up to the act of the King being stoned by a crowd in October 1795. Government then introduced the Seditious Meetings Act which prohibited gatherings in excess of 50 people. Militia were brought in from distant counties to control the situation because many militia troops in the capital were sympathetic to the rioters. Militia from Derbyshire were billeted in London and it may be the case that the Cornish Dragoons were also engaged in the London area at this time.



Marriage Register of Alexander Repper and Ann Hutchinson - St John Hampstead, 1796

The marriage record of Alexander Repper to Ann Hutchinson in 1796

Although no records have been found to evidence that the militia ever left Cornwall, Alexander was married as a "Cornish Dragoon" in Hampstead on 24th April 1796





The parish records for Hampstead show other marriages where the groom had a Cornish surname, two of them are noted as Cornish Dragoons. This may be an indication of the presence of the dragoons in the Hampstead area.



The banns for Alexander and Anne’s marriage had been read on 3rd April 1796, 10th April 1796 and 17th April 1796 at St John's Hampstead.


The witnesses to the marriage were Eliz Beale who signed for herself and James Woon who made a mark. The ceremony was conducted by the curate of St John's Hampstead, Charles Grant.


The parish register indicated that both Alexander and Ann were "of the parish of St John's, Hampstead" but no evidence of other Ripper or Hutchinson family events (baptisms, marriages or burials) has been found in the registers.

St John, Hampstead

St John Hampstead


It is likely that the dragoons would have been disbanded in Cornwall. This may mean that Ann had made the journey to Cornwall and back with him. Alexander and Ann married in 1796 and their daughter Ann was born the following year. The baptism of Ann is not recorded in the registers of St John, Hampstead in the period 1797 to 1810. This may indicate that baby Ann was baptised elsewhere, wherever the militia was posted at the time. Armies, even including the regular army, of the time often had soldiers’ wives moving with them from place to place as they provided a useful support in terms of cleaning, mending and cooking duties.


An unexplained entry in the 1841 census records a William Ripper, aged about 45. He indicates that his place of birth is Middlesex. He has not been found in the 1851 or 1861 censuses but in the 1871 census he gives his birthplace as Hampstead. No record of his baptism has been found there. This William was present at the death of Alexander's son, also called William, in 1870. It is possible that, whoever he was, he was not born in Hampstead but Cornwall and was a close relative of Alexander who had come to Hampstead with Alexander in the early 1800s.




The Marines


Alexander joined the marines in Uxbridge on 25th February 1808 and his occupation is given as a leather dresser.


Alexander’s Attestation Entry for The Marines



Marine Uniform of the early 1800s

The description register gives him as being 31 years old, born in 'Elston' in Cornwall; he had a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair, being 5 feet 3 inches tall; he was enlisted by Captain Hunt, entering company #43.


The recruitment of marines resembled that of the army, as they were essentially landmen they could not be "impressed" like seamen. Posters were printed and stuck up in market places, and recruiting sergeants roamed the area trying to recruit young men with tales of action and adventure.


Persuasion was not enough and in wartime a substantial bounty was offered which by 1801 had reached £26 per man. Despite this the rapid expansion of the navy caused a crisis as recruitment of marines did not match impressment of sailors. Some soldiers from the army were consequently used at sea and to overcome line of command problems many were offered bounties to transfer to the marines full time.


The marines continued to expand throughout the Napoleonic Wars so that by 1805 some 30,000 marines had been voted by parliament. Marines, like soldiers, were traditionally recruited for life -  however during the 1790's there was some attempt made to recruit for the "duration" instead.


Marine shore organisation centered on three divisions, with barracks near the dockyards at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Training on shore was almost entirely in the skills of an infantryman. The first many marines knew of a ship was on their first posting aboard.


Alexander’s wife later reported to the Guardians of the Poor in Hampstead that he was a marine and the record shows that he was on board the Arboukir. It is this record which enabled his marine record to be found.


On the 12th April 1808 Alexander was posted to HMS Aboukir, the only member of the 43rd company intake at this time to go to this ship. His last entry on the records of the 43rd shows that he had received pay for 12 days in April at 1 shilling per day. The pay of a marine private was £1-8s-0d per month as per the army. However on board ship this was reduced to 19s 3d per month as victualling and accommodation were provided free. The Aboukir was the second vessel of the name in the British line.


Like its predecessor it was a third rate ship of the line. The first Aboukir was captured from the French in the 1790's, having been called 'Aquilon'. The second Aboukir entered service in 1807 and remained in service until 1824, although not active much after 1815. When Alexander was posted to the ship it was still in a state of first preparations ahead of sea trials


The ship’s log for the Aboukir on Wednesday 13th April 1808 records westerley winds and this entry:

HMS Aboukir in 1814


Light airs and fine clear w~ [weather]. Employed embarking the marines. Rec’d [received] on board 106 being the compliment (sic) for the ship. PM Do w~. [Afternoon Ditto weather] . Riggers and Shipwrights at work on the ship. Rec’d provisions from lighter.


Badge of the Marines

Royal Marines Badge

Marines are often associated with the suppression of mutiny and this role greatly expanded during the Napoleonic Wars. They had always carried out guard duties aboard ship and had enforced regulations below deck. Marines were to stand guard whenever punishment was inflicted. They were deliberately separated from the seamen and in harbour, when mutiny was most likely, they were kept 'constantly at drill or parade, and not to be diverted by the ordinary duties of the ship'.


The marines were of prime importance in amphibious warfare. Co-operation between the army and the navy often led to disputes of authority, the marines however were clearly under naval discipline and hence more effective.


Marine duties on shore were not restricted to amphibious warfare. They could be landed as guards in a friendly port or to keep seamen from desertion. Their smart uniformed appearance was also used to impress enemies and allies. Occasionally they were used for impressment duties.


A small pension was taken from his pay for Alexander's wife Ann, as shown when she is examined by the Guardians of the Poor in Hampstead at a time when Alexander is at sea with the marines. This was in fact a "standing order" deduction from his pay for the benefit of his wife. This is evidenced in the naval pay books by the letters "FB".


In September 1810 Anne Repper’s pension was suspended, according to the records in Hampstead Workhouse. His pay records, the captain’s log and the ship’s log may explain why this has happened.






Hampstead Workhouse - as seen in the early 1800s

Hampstead Workhouse in 1807

By Sunday, 26th February 1809, the family were resident in Hampstead, as evidenced by the record of the baptism of Alexander and Ann’s second and third children, Mary Ann and William at St John's on that date.


Mary Ann was born on 10th July 1805 but not baptised until she was 3½ years old. William was born on the 16th February 1807 and baptised when he was 2 years old.


Where Mary Ann and William were born is not recorded in the register. It is not valid to assume they were born in Hampstead, despite the declaration in later census returns by William that he was born in Hampstead. This would have been either his belief, because he didn't know where he was born or because it continued his entitlement to poor relief from the Guardians of the Poor. To have declared he was born elsewhere would have initiated his resettlement to his place of birth. In the 1860s and 1870s he was wholly reliant upon the workhouse for survival.


It is most probable that Alexander was not present at the baptism of his two youngest children as he was likely on board his ship, HMS Aboukir. The baptism ceremony may have been prompted by the Hampstead Board of Guardians whom Ann had approached for financial help. On the day after the baptisms she asked the Guardians of the Poor for permission to leave the workhouse, and leave the children there. This indicates that the family were already resident in Hampstead. Whether they had left and returned or had remained there since the marriage of Alexander and Ann is not known.


The only known record of Alexander's whereabouts between 1796 and 1809 was when he enlisted for the marines in February 1808 when he was in Uxbridge. With Alexander having left for Chatham to commence his training and service, Ann and the children may well have turned to Hampstead as a home. Ann had lived here before and it seems her mother lived nearby. Ann informed the Hampstead Guardians of the Poor in March 1810 that her mother does not take good care of the children.


It may be significant that their eldest daughter, Ann, was not baptised in 1809 along with her siblings. The Hampstead records appear complete for this period and it is likely that she had been born and baptised elsewhere.


It is clear that the family had fallen on hard times. The following records are taken from the book of the meetings of visitors to the workhouse:


27th February 1809


Wants to leave the house as she wants to nurse a young woman, does not recollect her name, but her husband is a leather dresser and works at Mr Shipley's in Tooley Street and expects to lodge at Mr Humphreys in Charles Street, Horsleydown.
She expects a guinea for the month - she wishes to leave her children in the house and will return at the end of the month and take her children out.
Leave given - to have 2/6d.


27th March 1809

REPPER, Ann- aged 36

Quitted house 27th February 1809.


1st May 1809


Wife of Alexander Repper, now a marine on board the "Aboukir" man-of-war, applied to take her three children out of the house. {?} for pension - husband allows her out of his {?} - pay 4d per day.
Leave given to have 3/= per week.


8th May 1809

REPPER, Ann - (wife of Alexander Repper)

Her children, namely Ann aged 12, Mary aged 5 and William aged 4 were taken from the house on the 1st instant by their mother.


26th March 1810


Pension 4/=; she applied to put her three children into the house as she is going to service to Mr Maccon of Wetherall Place, Hampstead at 14 guineas per annum.
Children are aged thus - Ann 13, Mary 6 next July & William 4 years.
She says her mother does not take proper care of the children.
Relieved this day with 1/= but application to stand over.


2nd April 1810


Pension 4/=; relieved also with 1/=; agreed to allow in future instead of 4/= per week and children to be kept out of the house.


17th September 1810


Pension 5/=; wants to put two youngest children into house and give up pension - the allowance of her husband being suspended - will take children out again when allowance is returned.
Inquiry to be made about her husband - in the meantime allow her 2/6d per week extra.
(The paybooks, ship’s and captain’s logs of HMS Aboukir give no evidence for pay being affected in any way).


1st October 1810


Pension 5/= per week; relieved also with 2/6d.


15th October 1810


Pension 5/= per week; relieved also with 2/6d.


22nd October 1810


She wants to put her two children into the house and will then give up her pension.
Consideration postponed.


29th October 1810


Pension 5/=; relieved also with 2/6d.
She was very rude and impertinent because visitors refused to take children into the house.


5th November 1810


Relieved again with 2/6d exclusive of pension.


12th November 1810


Pension 5/=; relieved also with 2/6d.


19th November 1810


Pension 5/=; she has sold goods and gone away and left her family.
The children attended at the house, viz Ann aged 13 and upwards, Mary Ann aged 6 and William Alexander aged 5.
Children say their mother told them to come to the house.
Goods sold to landlord, Mr Cousins.
Children to be received into the house.


26th November 1810


The three children of Ann Repper who left them on the parish.


9th December 1811

REPPER, Mary Ann

Mary Ann died in the workhouse aged 7. (She was buried in the grounds of St John’s Hampstead two days later).


22nd June 1812


She left on same day to go to her mother.


Ann, the wife of Alexander, died during early 1835 and was buried as a pauper in St John’s Hampstead on 4th February 1835.


Ann, their eldest daughter, has been recorded at St Luke's, Chelsea in 1821. The parish register shows the baptism of William, son of Ann Repper and John Burton. Their residence is recorded as the poorhouse. The baby was buried six weeks later. No further evidence of Ann's life has been found. Searching the Hampstead St John's registers up to 1842 has not revealed her marriage or her burial.


HMS Aboukir

The muster rolls of HMS Aboukir show that Alexander was on the pay list from 13th April 1808 initially as a 3rd class marine and then as a 2nd class marine. His promotion occurred whilst the Aboukir was in Genoa harbour on 24th February 1815.


The contracted period for signing up to the marines was 7 years and upon achieving that Alexander received automatic promotion. He remained on board the Aboukir until discharged from the service on 11th September 1815. The muster rolls show unbroken service for the whole period as a member of #43 company, and all of that on board HMS Aboukir.


The political situation of the time was wholly influenced by the war against Napoleon and the desire to resist any invasion of Britain. The most obvious and direct route for attack on Britain was from the French occupied mainland of Europe. To deter this threat, Britain stationed many warships offshore around Britain's coast, but particularly from Cornwall, through the English Channel up to the Scottish border.


For its early service, Aboukir was part of this first line of defence, patrolling the coast from the Channel to The Wash.


A History of HMS Aboukir 1806-1816 (some selected incidents)

1806     Laid down at Frindsbury, Chatham, Medway.


1807     Fitting out at Chatham.


1808     Capt. George Parker was made ship's captain. On the 5th August the ship was ordered to be stationed in the North Sea.


1809     The Aboukir was part of the Walcheren Expedition.

Following Walcheren, the Aboukir resumed normal patrol duties in the North Sea.

27 August 1809 - Texel

8 September 1809 - At sea

15 September 1809 - Flushing, Flushing Roads


1811     Stationed off Flushing.


1812     Restationed to the Baltic Sea as part of the fleet under Admiral Saumarez which assembled off Vinga in May 1812

Capt. Thomas Browne, her commander, acted as Flag-Captain to Rear Admiral T. Byam Martin. Aboukir and Orion were detached to co-operate with the Russians who were now our allies since France and Russia had been at war from the 19th March. Details of the Baltic expedition are shown below.


Capt. George Parker was made Ship's Captain and the Aboukir was stationed to the Mediterranean.


1813     A court martial was held on board Hibernia off Toulon on 13 August 1813 to try private William Chaffer of the royal marines on HMS Aboukir for "having been frequently guilty of drunkenness and of behaving in a contemptuous and mutinous manner on the evening of 24 July." He was acquitted when the charges could not be proved.


Capt. Parker continued in Aboukir until the autumn of 1813 when he exchanged into HMS Bombay. Capt. Norborne Thompson (from HMS Bombay) took over as Ship's Captain. Aboukir remained stationed in the Mediterranean and took part in the capture of Genoa.

1814     The Aboukir was sent to assist in the taking of Genoa in April 1814. Details are shown below.


Following the defeat of Napoleon’s Forces the Royal Navy instructed HMS Aboukir to return to Chatham and discharge its complement.


1815     Sunday 3rd September 1815 - “At 10 mustered by open list and read the scale of pensions to the ship’s company with the different explanations"

11th September 1815 - Alexander was discharged from the Marines at Chatham.

Wednesday 13th September 1815 … "Finished paying off and at sunset hauled down the Pennant"


1816     Aboukir declared out of commission at Chatham.


The Walcheren Expedition


In July 1809 the Aboukir was part of the fleet which sailed on the Walcheren expedition and Alexander was one of the crew.


"After two months of discussion the Cabinet decided to strike at the Scheldt with an army of 40,000 men. Lack of transport, however, prevented it sailing until July, secrecy was lost and the French fleet escaped above Antwerp, our commander Chatham was unenterprising, and co-operation with the navy very bad. A prolonged siege of Flushing, on the island of Walcheren, destroyed any hope of surprising Antwerp, the dykes were cut, the troops-knee deep in water, and in September, when a quarter of our strength were sick, the survivors were brought home." (A History of England, Keith Feiling, pub. Macmillan 1966, p.773).


Some details from the Ship’s Log relating to this incident follow:

16 July 1809           "Received on board part of the 36th regiment, 675 men".

28 July 1809           "2 divisions sailed and landed in Walcheren and South Beveland. The enemy offered no resistance except at Flushing".

30 July 1809           "Sent all the troops on shore from the ship and the brigade of seamen".

31 July 1809           "Boats employed disembarking troops, horses and various articles belonging to the army".

3 August 1809        "Punished George Robinson, marine, with 8 lashes for insolence".

4 August 1809        "At 10:00 sent gunboat away with Lieutenant Seward and 14 seamen and 6 marines with 7 days provisions".

6 August 1809         Walcheren

13 August 1809       "Mustered ship's company by divisions. At one o'clock observed the cannonade to begin and to continue without interruption from our lines and shipping against Flushing. At eight o'clock the cannonade still continues. At midnight the cannonade continues".

14 August 1809      Ship's Log ... "Cannonade continues with increased vigour. At six cannonade ceased, our ships anchored observed the town on fire".


The Baltic - 1812


10 June 1812          The Aboukir passed through the Belt

20 June 1812          Arrived off Danzig, which was still in French hands. Here they found a Russian frigate.

7 June 1812            Anholt (Danish island in Kattegat)

14 June 1812          Fano Bay (near Esbjerg)

21 June 1812          At sea

5 July 1812             Aboukir arrived off Dunamunde near Riga

7 July 1812             Off Riga

18 July 1812           "Saluted the Russian Governor General and admiral with 17 guns on visiting the admiral".

12 August 1812       Capt. Browne fitted out some 33 gunboats, which arrived with a Russian frigate, in which some 300 to 400 of Aboukir's crew were employed daily in the defence of the city.

4 August 1812         At sea

22 August 1812       The frigates escorted 13 Russian transports laden with troops and landed them on the 3 September at Heel, near Danzig.

4 September 1812   "Held a survey and condemned and threw overboard ten putrid hides, being a nausea on the ship."

7 September 1812   Off Danzig

22 September 1812 At sea 

29 September 1812 An attack and occupation of Mittau (Jelgava), Gulf of Riga, Estonia took place. This was achieved by a party from HMS Aboukir, HMS Ranger and some gunboats. For this action the Naval General Service medal was awarded. The Medal was, however, first issued in 1847, fifty four years after the first naval action for which it could be claimed, after the death of Alexander. It was only issued to surviving officers, non-commissioned officers, Petty Officers, Seamen and some Army recipients. Alexander, therefore, did AlexMedalObv.jpg - 25381 BytesAlexMedalRev.jpg - 25494 Bytesnot qualify.






Naval General Service Medal

Genoa 1814

In a letter from Lieutenant-General Lord William Bentinck KB in Genoa to Earl Bathurst in Downing Street which was sent on 20 April 1814 which arrived on 8 May 1814 the following was written:

“I learnt that they were only 2000 men in Genoa. The possession of that harbour and fortress was of very great importance...Upon my arrival at Sestri I found that the enemy had been reinforced at Genoa. The garrison consisted of between 5,000 and 6,000 men...On the 16th [April] dispositions were made for attacking the enemy...On 17th at daybreak the attack began...Sir Edward Pellew's squadron came in sight and anchored in front of Nervi...In the evening a deposition of the inhabitants, accompanied by a French officer came to beg that I would not bombard the town;...The next morning several communications passed between myself and the French General but I would not listen to his propositions...the French garrison [marched out the following] morning...In the whole course of their service the navy have borne a distinguished part.”


A letter written on the 18th April 1814 from HMS America to Downing Street included the following: "Captain Thompson in the Aboukir, who, assisted by the ships and vessels Iphigenia, Furieuse, Swallow and Cephalus, blockaded the fort [of Genoa] conducted with much effect a false attack to the westward of the town, which drew off a number of the enemy's troops."



Return to Cornwall

On the 16th February 1838 Alexander’s son William remarried in St Pancras. The first marriage has not yet been found, but at this time the marriage certificate shows Alexander as being deceased. It also shows that his son William has adopted the full name of William Alexander Ripper.


In fact Alexander was not dead but living in Cornwall. The 1841 census shows him as a resident of the Helston Workhouse aged 65. As the 1841 census rounds ages to the nearest 5 years and his actual age was 67, and given that there is no other Alexander Repper who is contemporary, this is certainly the correct person. How he came to be back in Cornwall is not yet know and warrants investigation. It is possible to speculate on any number of options. He may have chosen to return to Cornwall upon his discharge from the marines in 1815, he may have returned to his family but was removed under the Settlement Act to his parish of origin, Helston.


I tend towards his removal as being the most likely scenario. He had shown throughout his naval career an affection for his family as his wife reports to the Guardians of the Poor in Hampstead that Alexander provided a pension for them from his wages. His wife died in 1835 and was buried as a pauper. His children were no longer his responsibility, having attained adulthood. It is not likely that either he or his children were living at anything other than poverty level. He had no real trade and work would have been difficult for him to find. As he would probably have been a drain on the parish resources it is likely that the local Guardians of the Poor would have been compelled by the recently enacted Poor Laws to remove Alexander back to Cornwall.


By the time his son married in 1838, they had probably not spoken for at least a couple of years and the prognosis for a long life in the workhouse was not great. The fact that he was recorded as dead in 1838 at the time of his son's marriage satisfies both conjecture on the part of any interested parties at that time and the real likelihood of his chances for survival.


In the 1841 census Alexander is recorded as an inmate in the Helston Workhouse, adding support to the theory that he had been forcibly removed from Hampstead to Helston under the Poor Law conditions.


His death is recorded as being on the 21st October 1841 at Adelaide Road in Penzance, Cornwall. The fact that he was on old salt and this was Trafalgar Day probably did not go unnoticed at the time. Adelaide Road was occupied at the time by Joseph Rowe who made his mark as the informant of Alexander's death. Alexander's occupation was given as a fellmonger, being somebody dealing with hides and skins. When he entered the marines in 1808 he gave his occupation as a leather dresser and later his wife had established a connection with Horsleydown in Bermondsey, the centre of the British tannery industry at that time. The highly unusual entry on his death certificate is the cause of death "Drinking cold water 4 days before his death". This may have meant that he drank impure, unboiled water.