An 1824 funeral procession

Thomas Roberts was vicar of Tottenham from 1798 to 1824 (and also rector of St Peter Cornhill). When he died, aged 73, after 26 years in his parish, and was to be buried in a family vault near the west door of St George-in-the-East, his parishioners held a meeting 'to take into consideration the best means to be adopted for publicly testifying the regret of the inhabitants for the loss they had so recently and unexpectedly sustained.' They decided 'that in order to pay a suitable respect to their late highly esteemed vicar, the Rev. Thomas Roberts, such parishioners as intended to join the funeral procession, from Tottenham to the parish of Saint George's, Middlesex, should assemble at the workhouse, at nine o'clock, precisely, on Wednesday morning next, and proceed with the body to the southern boundary of the parish on Stamford Hill; from thence, as many as thought proper might continue in the procession to the place of interment.' These details are from William Robinson The History & Antiquities of the Parish of Tottenham (Nicholls & Son, 2 vols, 1840).

The procession left the vicarage house at half-past ten o'clock, and arrived at St. George's church, Middx. at two o'clock, p.m.
The funeral service was read by the Rev. George Hodgson Thompson, M.A., the then curate of Tottenham.
The children of the several schools, and the poor men and women from the work-house, on arriving at the southern boundary of the parish at Stamford Hill, drew up on either side of the road, and stood uncovered whilst the corpse passed onward. [Pictured: late Victorian funeral mutes - the tradition of mourners hired to stand in black and look mournful persisted from the 17th century until around the First World War; they are mentioned in Dickens' Oliver Twist]

 The following is a programme of the procession observed at the funeral, which proceeded from Tottenham to the parish church of St. George's, Middlesex, where he was buried in his family grave in the church-yard, on the right hand side, nearly opposite the west entrance to the church:—over the vault there is a flat stone with a suitable inscription.

The Beadle with the Mace
Undertaker's Assistant, as Out-rider
Two Mutes on Horseback
Lid of Feathers, and Page on each side
Two Mutes on Horseback
Thirty-two Parishioners on Horseback, two and two, with crape hat-bands and cloaks, &c
The Churchwardens with crape hat-bands, scarfs, and wands
The Vestry Clerk with crape hat-band, &c
* Fifty of the Free Grammar School Boys with crape on left arm, with their Master, two and two
* The Blue School Charity Girls, forty, with their Mistress and Attendants, two and two
* The Green School Charity Girls, thirty, with their Mistress and Attendants, two and two
* About forty of the Paupers out of the Workhouse, with the Master
* Thirty Parishioners on foot
* The Parish Clerk and Sexton, crape hat-bands, &c

drawn by Six Horses with plumes of feathers, five bearers with silk hat-bands, on each side, with truncheons, &c

* Those marked thus left the procession at the Turnpike Gate, Stamford Hill

Two Mourning Coaches and Four, containing two Clergymen and part of the Family, crape hat-bands and scarfs,
with coach pages, silk hat-bands, Undertaker's men behind, in crape hat-bands

The Carriages of Mr. Sparks, Lady Curtis, Mrs. Curtis, and Mrs. Pratt, empty, the servants in crape hat-bands, &c

The Churchwardens' Carriage, containing two Gentlemen

Private Carriages, with Company
John Holt, Esq.
Richard Mountford, Esq.
Henry Hare Townsend, Esq.
William Wright, Esq.
William Robinson, Esq.
Lewis Andrew Delachaumette, Esq.
William Hobson, Esq.
Edward William Windus, Esq.
William Howard, Esq.
Joseph Fletcher, Esq.
Cajaton Dias Santos, Esq.
James Wallace, Esq.

Carriages, without Company
Mrs. Buckworth
Miss Dermer
Mrs. Minnett
James Collins, Esq.
Thomas Rhodes, Esq.
Ralph Nicholson, Esq.
 Broadie Mc.Ghie, Esq.
Charles Hibbert, Esq.

The funeral expenses were paid by the family; the churchwardens, the parishioners on horseback, and those on foot, defrayed their own expenses. All other extras relating to the procession were defrayed by subscription.

A descendant of Thomas Roberts is Dr David Morris, churchwarden and lay canon of St Cyprian's Cathedral in the diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman in South Africa, and the Head of Archaeology at the McGregor Museum (Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre & Wonderwerk Cave), with whom we are in contact.

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