1779 June 9th – Kentish Gazette
“Yesterday the Oxfordshire militia marched to Dover Castle.”
31st May 1803 – Kentish Weekly Post. Canterbury May 30th
“Since our last, the Leicester and Oxfordshire regiments of Militia, have passed through this city on their routes to Dover Castle.”
13th January 1804 – Kentish Gazette
“Brigadier General Manningham has been appointed to succeed Sir Charles Green in command of the Militia at Dover, and Captain Cameron of the Rifle Regiment, his Major of Brigade.”
A follow up on the 17th:
“Brigadier General Manningham has arrived in Dover, and takes charge of the brigade, lately under General Greene, who sets off for the West Indies.”
His command included the Canterbury Volunteer Infantry and Cinque Ports Volunteer Infantry.
15th June 1804 – Evening Mail
“On occasion of his Majesty’s birth-day, a Brigade, composed of the 1st Royal Surry Militia, Oxfordshire Militia, the Leicester and West Middlesex, under the command of General MANNINGHAM, who are encamped on Dover Heights, was drawn out on the occasion. At one o’clock at noon a Royal Salute was fired from the Castle, which was immediately answered by the ships in the Downs, and from thence communicated to our squadron off the French coast. At the same time, the Brigade and Arch Cliff Fort fired a feu-de-joye right to left three times.”
28th September 1804
“Our Volunteers were yesterday brigaded with the Leicester and Oxfordshire militias, and marched to the extensive Downs near St. Margaret’s where they were reviewed by Mr. Pitt; who afterwards, as Lord Warden, held a Court of Loadmanage, at Dover, for recruiting the Pilots here, at Deal, Ramsgate, and Margate.”
30th October 1804 – Kentish Gazette. Canterbury, October 30th
“The Oxfordshire Militia marched into this city from Dover yesterday, and this morning continued their route to Gravesend, where they will cross the Thames for the Eastern District.”
Headstones to the Oxfordshire Militia were erected under the orders of Lord Charles Spencer.
28th July 1810-Oxford University and City Herald
“The Oxfordshire Militia are ordered to Dover to succeed the West Middlesex.”
Headstones to the Oxfordshire Militia were restored by Colonel W. Gore Langton, MP.
Headstones to the Oxfordshire Militia were restored by Colonel John W. Fane.
8th March 1889-Dover Express
“SOLDIERS GRAVES.- The little cemetery under the Dover Castle slopes at the top end of Northfall Meadow, in which are interred a large number of men and officers of the Oxfordshire Militia, who were stationed at Dover during the early part of the century, has been in rather a disgraceful state for many years, but recently it has been nicely done up and a wire fence placed around it.”
1900 “History of the Oxfordshire Regiment of Militia (Fourth Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry) 1778-1900” by Lt. Col. Frank Willan
“On March 13, 1803, the Regiment was again embodied and in that year, and in 1804, was employed on Garrison duty at Dover Castle. Owing to a serious epidemic which arose, many of the men died, and were buried in a little cemetery on the eastern slopes of the hill on which the Castle stands. The names of nineteen of the men who died between October 9, 1803, and October 29, 1804 are recorded on five headstones. On the back of one of these stones is the following inscription: ‘These memorials of private soldiers of the Oxfordshire Regiment of Militia were originally erected by Col. Lord Charles Spencer, restored in 1841 by Col.W. Gore Langton MP and in 1877 by Col. John W. Fane.”
11th August 1905- Dover Express
“The Shropshire Militia – Their Burial Place at Dover
It is just now an appropriate time to take centenary notice of the lonely little graveyard situated to the side of Northfall Meadow, under the spur of earthworks of Dover Castle. The graves are mostly those of the Shropshire Light Infantry Militia who marched from Shrewsbury and down Kent to Dover at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century to assist in garrisoning this station when the country was denuded of its regular troops owing to the war on the continent.
There seems to have been a good deal of mortality amongst the Shropshire Light Infantry, most of whom seem to have been but youths, averaging from 18 to 20, and several of them died of smallpox, many of whom were buried in the graveyard above alluded to in the years 1803, 1804 and 1805. This graveyard has been much neglected, and a great many of the gravestones, which ought to be entire, have been ruthlessly broken and parts carried away. For some years past, however, there has been a substantial wire fence around it, and it is now topped with barbed wire, so that persons who would like to go inside for a closer inspection of the inscription on the stones that remain are unable to do so. This graveyard is about 40 feet wide by 200 feet long, and is thickly planted with yew trees, Scotch firs, and shrubs, but there is no attempt to keep the place ornamental or even tidy, and owing to the thickness of the undergrowth the inscriptions cannot be read without climbing the fence, which, in addition to the difficulty of doing so, would be a breach of orders in the face of the noticeboard prominently fixed near the margin. The writer of this being ‘A Man from Shropshire’, feels that a little more attention to the resting-place of the ‘lads’ of Salopia who volunteered and marched from the Midlands to defend these coasts in a critical period of our history, might, on the centenary of their untimely ends, receive a little notice from the Dover Castle authorities.’
(Note by Phillip Eyden. According to Atherton, 2003, the Shropshire Light Infantry were based at the Castle from Jan 1807 to May 1809)
19th November 1908 – Dover Express
Extract from: The Story of Dover a Century Ago, source Thomas Pattenden diaries (c.1810)
“…To this same period is to be ascribed the formation of that little burial ground in the Northfall Meadow at the foot of the earthwork. That burial guide was not, as the Dover Tramway Official Guide states, for the burial of those who died of cholera (that plague being then unknown in this country), but for the general internment of men who died here during the war when Dover was garrisoned by Militia Regiments, and more especially members of the Shropshire Light Infantry Militia, many of whom died of Small Pox while they were stationed at Dover Castle in the first decade of the Nineteenth Century.”
Bavington-Jones, J. Annals of Dover, Dover Express, 1916
“…in the year 1800 a graveyard was consecrated for the burial of soldiers outside the Castle walls near the top of Northfall Meadow. That graveyard still exists and there used to be a good many small headstones there indicating that the soldiers there buried belonged chiefly to Militia Regiments from Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Cornwall, Yorkshire, Sussex and Wales. Some, it was mentioned, died in the Castle of smallpox, which led to the supposition that this burial ground had been specially used at the time of an epidemic, but the evidence seems to indicate that it was generally used for the Castle Garrison internments, one writer, as late as 1844, said it was then occasionally used for soldiers.”
3rd August 1928 – Dover Express
“A monument has been erected by the 3rd Batt. of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in the cemetery at Northfall Meadow to the memory of the men of the 1st Oxfordshire Regt. Of Militia who were stationed at Dover during the Napoleonic Wars. The inscription on the monument is as follows:- “Erected by the 3rd Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in 1928 to the memory of 19 men of the Oxfordshire Regiment of Militia buried in this cemetery who died in 1803 and 1804 when on Garrison duty in Dover. The gravestones in this cemetery were originally erected by Col. Lord Charles Spencer, restored in 1841 by Col.W. Gore Langton and in 1877 by Col. John W. Fane.”
11th November 1938 –Dover Express
‘To Editor of the Dover Express
Sir, – I came across near Dover Castle yesterday a small disused cemetery, which, according to a small monument therein, contains the graves of a number of a number of Dover men who died from fever or disease following the Walcheren Expedition of 1809. This cemetery is unkept and uncared for and for the credit of your ancient town ought to be restored. I came across a similar number of graves in Harwich Cemetery last year, and a monument stating that that our late Queen Victoriahad had this last resting place of our national heroes erected and enclosed, but, alas, it had got into disrepair when I saw it and I wrote a letter which appeared in the local Press calling for attention of the Harwich authorities to the matter, with the result that this spot in God’s Acre has been restored. One sees mourning announcements with the words. ‘Gone, but not forgotten’, but I would think ‘Gone, but soon forgotten’ would be more appropriate in many a case these days.
George Easton (Colonel, C.B.E., T.D., J.P., etc)’
“This is not a burial place under the control of Dover municipal authorities, but is on War Office land. In 1928, the officers of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment placed a fresh monument to 19 of the Oxfordshire Militia who were buried there in 1803-4. Others belonged to the Shropshire Militia and there were few, if any, Dover men buried there. This monument does not refer to the Walcheren Expedition.”
Following the transfer of Dover Castle from the Ministry of Defence to English Heritage, the surviving headstones and obelisk were relocated to the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery on the instructions of Garrison Adjutant Colonel P.R.S. Jackson OBE. They can be found to the left of the lower gate and commemorate the deaths of 22 soldiers aged 18 to 47 between 1802 and 1804.
Credited to Phillip Eyden
Author Name Phil Eyden
Pictures from Phillip Eyden