Regency Obituaries

By 1814, the Romantic “cult of feeling” was finding its way into all sorts of media, including the obituary section of Regency-era periodical. Evocation of far-away places, heroic sacrifice, violence and a desire to return to the natural state of things were being expressed:


Sarah Anderson, a free black woman, a native of Guinea, of the Congo country, died the 20th of September last, at Providence Grove, St. John’s, Jamaica, at the extraordinary age of 146 years! She arrived on that island in 1687, during the Government of the Duke of Albemarle, whom she remembered well, and whose person she described quite accurately.


Major Maxwell McKenzie, Lieutenant-Colonel of the 71st Regiment..this gallant officer received his mortal wound in an engagement with the enemy near Bayonne, while nobly cheering and leading on his men to charge the enemy, and thus terminated an honorable life in a glorious death..


At Gibraltar, in consequence of a severe and violent attack of the dreadful disease raging at that place, John Smith, Esq., son of the late J. Smith, merchant from Inverness


In Presburg, Hungary, Eve Zuacher, at the advanced age of 123 years. Her hair was abundant and remained black; her teeth were very white and she retained all her senses to the last. Her sight was so piercing, that she could, at a distance of 1000 paces, distinguish the different kinds of cattle in the meadows. When questioned once as to her mode of living, she answered, ‘I eat and drink, not because the victuals are placed before me, but because I am hungry and dry; I go to rest with the cock and rise with him.’ A few days before her death she taught catechism to an infant of four years and walked eight miles (!)


— taken from The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany, Volume 76, dated 1814


This engraving comes from one of many so-called “Memoirs” published in the immediate aftermath of Her Highness’ death. Note the prostrate gentleman at the foot of the memorial, complete with discarded shield and heroic bust. I wonder if he is meant to be Prince Leopold, her husband, or the Author, humble esquire.