James Cornish, 1885

James Cornish, 1885

A carte-de-visite showing the grave of able seaman James Cornish in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Australia. The tombstone was erected ‘by his shipmates’ aboard the HMS Nelson.

The inscription reads: ‘To the Memory of James Cornish, Able Seaman, who accidentally fell from aloft at Sydney June 16th and died June 17th 1885, aged 25 years.’ This is followed by a verse from the Gospel of St Mark.

The tombstone was the work of D. McNab of Rookwood, a suburb of Syndney.

According to his service record, James John Cornish was born in the village of Peldon in Essex on 21 May 1860. He joined the Navy on 21 May 1878, signing up for a period of 10 years. He was a shade under 4’9” tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He had a rose tattooed on his chest. The record lists his various voyages and the ships on which he served. The last entry, dated 17 June 1885, reads ‘Fracture of the Skull.’

He appears on the 1861 census, the child of James and Eliza Cornish of West Mersea, Essex, which is next to Peldon. His father gave ‘Navy Coast Guard’ as his profession. By 1871 the family had moved to Worth in East Kent. James Senior was now a commission boatman ‘on active list / coast guard service.’ The family now included five children.

A wetstamp verso identifies the photographer as A. [?] Reebe or Reede of Sydney.


Code: 127459
© Paul Frecker 2023