Bendigo and Cricket

Bendigo’s interest and involvement with the sport of cricket is well recorded. Not only was the man himself a capable cricketer, he was also a regular visitor to Trent Bridge cricket ground from its inception in the 1830s.

This was the decade that Bendigo’s boxing career took off, and Bendigo would have been somewhat of a celebrity who was always good entertainment. There is a story about Bendigo being at a match when a ball was hit and heading in his direction. He calmly removed his top hat and caught the ball using the hat, only for the ball to go straight through it, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Nottingham Cricket Club is known to have played matches from 1771 and fifteen matches involving this side have been awarded first-class status. There was also a first-class match played by a combined Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire side in 1803. The first matches played as a Nottinghamshire side took place in 1829. 

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club was formally created in 1841, when William Clarke established Trent Bridge as a cricket venue adjacent to the public house he ran. It was Clarke’s successor as Nottinghamshire captain, George Parr, who first captained a united England touring team in 1859.

Bendigo Matched With George Parr

Bendigo’s cricketing ability is further enhanced by an invitation from George Parr to a challenge match one-on-one. George Parr was considered the best player in the world at the time.

Bendigo describes it in this article from BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk

Bendigo’s comments show his bravado has not diminished

In this article Bendigo brags about his achievements.

‘I have also played and beat at cricket Gerland of Leeds, one of the great All England players at that time’.

Bendigo appears to have mixed up the name Girling with Crossland to make Gerland!

I was matched to throw a cricket ball and then play the then great All-England cricketer George Parr. The match did not take place on account of me being seized with gout.

Bendigo forgets to say that Parr graciously declined to claim forfeit.

George Parr is commemorated at Trent Bridge

Trent Bridge was first used as a cricket ground in the 1830s. The first recorded cricket match was held on an area of ground behind the Trent Bridge Inn in 1838 with Trent Bridge hosting its first Test match in 1899, with England playing against Australia.

The modern Trent Bridge ground has stands that commemorate William Clarke and George Parr.

George Parr is widely considered to be the best cricket player in the world in his time

George Parr’s first-class career lasted from 1844 to 1870. He was a big name in cricket and was known as the “Lion of the North”. He was a right-handed batsman and bowled occasional right-handed underarm deliveries. He played mainly for Nottinghamshire, and was club captain from 1856 to 1870 making occasional appearances for other counties and for Marylebone Cricket Club.

Parr was a stalwart of the All-England Eleven and was captain of the first England touring team, which went to North America in 1859. He also captained England’s unbeaten second tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1864.

Parr played in 207 first-class matches and had 358 innings, in 30 of which he was not out. Parr is widely considered as the best cricket player in the world in his time. He scored 6,626 runs (average 20.20) at a time when conditions greatly favoured bowlers. His highest score was 130 for Nottinghamshire, against Surrey at The Oval on 14 July 1859. He made 31 fifties and took 126 catches. He took 29 wickets in his career.

Reports About Bendigo Facing Arthur Girling

Arthur Girling (1807 – 1849) was a first-class cricketer and umpire. He was born at Burton upon Trent and made his debut in first-class cricket for the North against the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) at Lord’s in 1841. He next played first-class cricket in 1845, when he appeared for Manchester against Yorkshire. He played cricket for Manchester until 1848, making six appearances. His best figures of 6 for 32 came against Sheffield in 1848, a match in which he took two five-wicket hauls. He also stood as an umpire in two first-class matches in 1840 and 1841.  Girling died at Manchester in June 1849 at the age of 42.

Bendigo faced another first class cricketer in Leeds

There is also a report of Bendigo visiting Leeds in Yorkshire where he played a two-on-two at Woodhouse Moor. Bendigo easily beat a man named Ibbetson who was described as a ‘professor of the noble game’ and who played professionally around 1850. This win against Ibbetson allowed Bendigo (and a fielder) to play Mr J Holland and Andrew Crossland (a first class cricketer and umpire).

Bendigo’s shows himself to be a ‘bad loser’.

Andrew Crossland (1816 – 1902) was active from 1844 who played for Sheffield Cricket Club. Born in Dalton, Huddersfield, he died in November 1902 in Hull. His son Samuel Crossland also played first-class cricket

The Top-Hat Story

This story featured in a 1903 copy of the Evening Star. The game in question is suggested to be 1847 and at Trent Bridge where George Parr was playing.

It was etiquette to wear a top-hat at cricket matches. Before the game, the batsman were practicing, and one of them hit a ball towards Bendigo who was described as a fine athlete and a great cricketer. Bendigo was described as more than capable of catching the ball, removed his hat to preserve his hands and attempted to catch the ball using his hat. However, the ball went straight through – to the amusement of the crowd.

The Top-Hat Article

George ‘The Squire’ Osbaldeston

We shouldn’t finish without mentioning George Osbaldeston, a first class cricketer (as well as Member of Parliament for East Retford) who played professionally for Marylebone Cricket Club, Surrey, Sussex, and Hampshire.

He also took on the unenviable task of refereeing the third fight between Bendigo and Ben Caunt in 1845, the one that was described as ‘the most scandalous brawl in boxing history. 

George Osbaldeston was the classic sporting hero of the period. The Cricket Mash blog describes him as ‘a versatile all-round sportsman, compulsive gambler and life-long philanderer. He was one of the most colourful characters of early cricket’.

Born in 1787 to a wealthy family, Osbaldeston went from Eton to Brasenose College.

In the same year he had his famous duel with Lord George Bentinck. Osbaldeston putting a bullet through his opponent’s hat within two inches of the brain.

Known as ‘The Squire’, Osbaldeston was a High Sheriff of Yorkshire and for six years M.P. for East Retford.

He died in 1866, leaving no heir, just his reputation.

Thanks to BritishNewspaperArchive.co.uk for the articles featured here.

If Belfast Can Do It Then Nottingham Should Too.

When our campaign started in 2016, former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan wished us luck. He also mentioned a similar campaign, for a statue to Rinty Monaghan in Belfast.

In 2015, a statue of the former world champion boxer, John ‘Rinty’ Monaghan was unveiled close to his birthplace in Belfast. Monaghan was the first boxer from the city to win a world title, becoming flyweight champion in 1948.  

We have recently discovered that, long before our campaign started, McGuigan had even celebrated the contribution of Bendigo to the sport.

In September 1991, he spoke about Bendigo in a BBC Radio 4 programme. The programme was mentioned in The Reading Evening Post as a Radio Highlight.

Similarities In The Two Campaigns

Having looked at the news reports about the Rinty Monaghan statue, we have identified a number of similarities to the campaign here in Nottingham. The two cities even have a similar population. Belfast 280,000 and Nottingham weighing in at 330,000.

BBC News in Northern Ireland reported:

‘He wasn’t just a fighter, he was an entertainer’

This was the description of Monaghan by the sculptor Alan Beattie Herriot. The same has been said of Bendigo.

Photo by Albert Bridge ©

Monaghan was the first boxer from the Belfast to win a world title, becoming flyweight champion in 1948.

Bendigo was the first boxer from Nottingham to win the All England title in 1839 and again in 1845.

The 3m bronze statue of Monaghan was erected in Cathedral Gardens Belfast, close to where he grew up.

The statue of Bendigo will (most likely) be erected in Trinity Square Nottingham, close to his birthplace.

Monaghan’s family attended the ceremony, and were joined by well-known boxers, Belfast councillors and crowds of boxing fans.

The ceremony in Nottingham will welcome the many people who have helped us and who have a connection with Bendigo’s story.

The website for Irish Boxing reported that ‘the unveiling of the Rinty Monaghan statue in Belfast this year was one of the biggest occasions in Belfast Boxing.

We know that when Nottingham’s statue to Bendigo is unveiled, it will be one of the biggest occasions in Nottingham Boxing.

Five Year Campaign

In the BBC article, Rinty Monaghan’s great-nephew Eamon McAuley said that the statue was ‘absolutely beautiful’. He described his great-uncle as a ‘working-class hero. He also said that after a five-year campaign to erect the statue, his family were going to celebrate ‘a wonderful day’.

We expect that our statue to Bendigo will also be a beautiful work of art to honour Nottingham’s ‘working class hero’.

Our campaign is now five years old.

Maybe it’s time that we celebrated with a beautiful day too?

A Year to Forget

2020 was a year to forget wasn’t it?

As we all tried to cope with the COVID19 pandemic, all non-essential activity was put on hold. This included our events and fundraising ideas. Let’s hope that 2021 is a year to remember.

Now that things seem to be improving, we are pleased to announce that in the near future, we will be launching The Bendigo Story. A guided heritage walk in Bendigo’s old ‘stomping ground’ of Nottingham’s city centre.

We are excited about this as it will allow us to meet visitors to Nottingham, and show them around. The timing of it will also coincide with the long awaited re-opening of Nottingham Castle as a major tourist attraction.

The 68 years of Bendigo’s life were during the most turbulent period in Nottingham’s history. On his 20th birthday, Nottingham Castle was destroyed by fire (1831) and it remained a ruin until two years before his death. Nottingham Castle became a museum in 1978, having been purchased by the Nottingham Corporation in 1875.

Was Bendigo one of the first visitors? We don’t know, but the sight of the burnt out ducal palace on Castle Rock would have been a permanent reminder to Bendigo of the political unrest in Nottingham.

The Bendigo Story is a guided walk that celebrates the life and times of William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson, Nottingham’s legendary Prize-Fighter and All England Champion. It will take you to a number of locations where you will learn not just about his life, but also what Nottingham was like during his time.

Image from nottinghamcastle.org.uk

Without giving everything away, the walk will last about two hours and we have decided it will finish up at St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market. At the end of the walk, each guest will receive a complimentary copy of our heritage booklet ‘10 Bells For Bendigo’.

Watch this space for more details.

Many thanks for your continued support, in particular those of you that follow our social media pages. We are all learning as we go along.

We will end with a recent image sent to us via our Twitter account @bendigonotts.

Emile Degand pays his respects to Bendigo

It is an image from a book that shows a Belgian flyweight boxer visiting Bendigo’s grave. His name was Emile Degand and he was in Nottingham for a bout with George ‘Tish’ Marsden. It gives the year as 1953. We have checked this and for some reason the date is wrong (by almost 20 years).

George Marsden fought 372 times between 1927 and 1946. He beat Emile Degand on 5th March 1934. We also noticed that Marsden’s birth (1911) and death (1980) were exactly 100 years on from Bendigo. Some coincidence eh?

Thanks for reading and maybe we will see you on the guided walk soon.

Bendy And The Baer

It is possibly unfair to try to compare Bendigo to other boxers with whom we might be more familiar. However, what is unfortunate for Bendigo, is that technology was not there for him. The invention of film allowed us to get to know boxers more personally. Facial features, fighting style, and personality are all aspects we can find out about regarding any boxer after the 1900s but, when it comes to Bendigo, we are not that spoilt. We must rely on articles, books and sketches. Owing to this, it seems more natural to use more current fighters to get a better feel for past pugilists and that is exactly what the New York Times did in 1935.

John Kieran, was a sportswriter for the New York Times and would go on to become a Hall of Fame sports broadcaster and a regular face on US television. His article in 1935 had the headline.

“Bending Backward From Baer to Bendigo”

“Here. Read about Bendigo. He must have been the Max Baer of old England” cheerfully declared a gentleman as he dropped a hefty book onto Kieran’s office desk.

That book was the famed “The Story of Boxing” by Trevor Wignall. In the book, which covers many 19th century old British bare-knuckle boxers, it describes Bendigo as a “Pugilist, Harlequin, and Revivalist”. It is the word ‘Harlequin’ that really grabs Kieran’s attention as to what the cheerful fellow was suggesting.

At the time of New York Times article, Max Baer (the ‘Clown Prince of Boxing’) was the heavyweight champion of the world.

Baer was a remarkable character who enlightened America during a time the country was rocked by the Great Depression. He was an old school American heart-throb, an eccentric, a joker, and sadly misunderstood. (Hollywood’s depiction of Baer in the film ‘Cinderella Man’ is quite inaccurate).

Bendigo was also a very colourful character.

Many people during his fighting career referred to him as the ‘Nottingham Jester’ and every article you can read about him describes him as being eccentric.

Bendigo was a master at taunting his opponents, he would dance around them, pull silly faces, reciting rude rhymes, calling his rival ‘a big chucklehead’- the crowds loved it.

When Bendigo retired from the prize ring, he began to enter a particularly dark time in his life, which involved too many pubs and cell bars. However, he would turn his life around when a priest would grab his attention with the story of David and Goliath. Bendigo replied,

‘I should like to know more about that David bloke. He must have been a good’un for a lightweight’.

A notable example of Baer’s mischief and jest was before his world title fight with the ‘Ambling Alp’ Primo Carnera, he sneakily plucked a hair from Carnera’s chest as if it was a garden daisy and said “He loves me!”. He then managed to grab another before the man mountain realised what he was doing and said “He loves me not!”, reporters present were rolling around laughing.

Carnero and Baer

Kieran suggests that the Bendigo comparison is perhaps a lazy one and that he could equally be likened to ‘The Fighting Marine’ Gene Tunney, who twice beat the famous Jack Dempsey and middleweight king Mickey Walker. Interestingly, they both had a history of saving people from drowning, which Bendigo did numerous times whilst fishing on the Trent river in Nottingham.

His heroic act of saving a drowning person was once mentioned to Max Baer whilst he was training at Asbury Park and he cheekily responded that ‘the waves were pretty high’ and that he would not attempt to rescue anyone unless they were a ‘prominent person like Johnny Weissmuller’. Maybe this was another example of the boxer’s jest. (Johnny Weissmuller was an Olympic Swimmer who became more well known in the 1930’s as an actor).

Another aspect of the Bendigo-Baer comparison that Kieran perhaps overlooks in his article is that both fighters had to overcome significant size disadvantages to win their championships. (In Bendigo’s case, to regain his championship in his third meeting with Ben Caunt).

Max Baer overcame four inches in height, four inches in reach and nearly a four stone weight disadvantage against the colossal Primo Carnera, who stood 6ft 5inches.

Bendigo was also the much smaller man in his battles against Ben Caunt who was 6ft 2 inches – a giant of the time when the average height of a man was 5ft 5 inches. Bendigo’s height was chalked up at just under 5ft 10 inches and he would also enter the ring around the 11st 11lb mark. He would look like a snack stood next to Caunt ‘The Tockard Giant’, as he entered the ring weighing up to 18st.

The main aspect that I think links Baer and Bendigo is that they both stood out and entertained people. They were different. They made the sport better and that is why they both have their names in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

 I mentioned earlier that Baer was misunderstood and also misrepresented in the film ‘Cinderella Man’. The film seems to portray him as a killer. In my opinion, Baer’s manager’s view has to be considered. He said that Baer’s ‘Heart was too big for his fists’. I invite readers to watch the Max Baer documentary called ‘Tender Hearted Tiger’ so you can decide in which thought league you stand.

Article written and research by Jevon Patrick for the Bendigo Memorial Fund

The Bendigo Story – Guided Walk

                                                                                                       

Visitors to Nottingham can now learn about the incredible life of William ‘Bendigo’ Thomson in a new guided walking tour in the city centre.

‘The Bendigo Story’ is led by trustees of the Bendigo Memorial Fund. The tour starts in Nottingham’s Old Market Square and finishes at St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market.

Jevon and Alan at the grave with their ‘tour-guide’ umbrellas

Total walking distance is about two miles, at a relaxed pace and with regular stops to talk and explain the incredible story of Bendigo and 19th century Nottingham.

Here’s a review from Trip Advisor.

Lovely Saturday morning on the Bendigo Heritage Walk. Alan is very informative and entertaining. Lots of tales of Bendigo’s life, and some other interesting facts and hidden gems of Nottingham.

Julie (April 2021)

Two tours are scheduled every weekend up until 16th May when the schedule will be reviewed. There is a choice between Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Tpurs are currently limited to five guests.

Tickets can be obtained at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-bendigo-story-tickets-127381011033

Private tours can be arranged by contacting the Bendigo Memorial Fund at bendigofund@gmail.com

“Our guided walk has taken a lot of planning but we feel it has been worth it. We can tailor the tour to different groups with specific interests. We are sure it will be of interest to locals and to people visiting Nottingham for a city break or sporting event”.

Tour guide Alan Dawson

“We’re so excited about this! We can’t wait to introduce people to a story that has been Nottingham’s hidden, little gem. We’re going to unravel a tale that would be fit for filmmakers in Hollywood – and it’s on the city’s doorstep!”

Tour guide Jevon Patrick

Ryan Walker-Drain, the chair of Bendigo Memorial Fund said:

Thanks go to Alan and Jevon (the tour guides) for setting this up, The Bendigo Story will be a great way for visitors to learn about our first boxing superstar. It will also raise funds for our statue appeal.

Just The Ticket from 1856

An original ticket to one of Bendigo’s exhibition matches is listed on a US Sports Memorabilia site for $2000.

Jo Sports Inc are currently offering for sale a full, unused ticket for an exhibition match between Bendigo and Bob Brettle on December 30, 1856. It is the earliest boxing ticket currently being offered for sale.

The match took place at the Talbot Inn in Digbeth, Birmingham.

Brettle was an active star in boxing at the time and the match was held to raise money for the retired Bendigo.

Robert “Bob” Brettle, born at Portobello, near Edinburgh, in January 1832. He was a successful bare-knuckle boxer active in Birmingham, England, during the 1850s. He was known as “The Birmingham Pet”.

A silver belt, given to him by his patrons to honour his achievements, and made in Birmingham, was featured on the television programme Antiques Roadshow. It was subsequently donated to the British Boxing Board of Control and is now displayed at their headquarters.

Brettle died aged 38 and is buried in the churchyard of St. Peter’s Church, Harborne in Birmingham.

The ticket is stamped in lower right corner and is not creased or torn. It has the allocated seat number and is described as in outstanding condition given the age. The ticket measures 2 3/8″ x 3 1/2.

The Bendigo Story (Guided Walk)

We are pleased to announce the launch of our Guided Walk, starting on April 17th.

The Bendigo Story is a guided walk that celebrates the life and times of William ‘Bendigo’ Thompson, Nottingham’s legendary Prize-Fighter and All England Champion.

The guided tour will be led by a trustee of the Bendigo Memorial Fund, who will take you to a number of significant and historic locations, where, you will learn not just about his life, but also what Nottingham was like during his time.

The tour lasts approximately two hours and is along pavements and involves no steps. It is a walking tour that is suitable for wheelchair access

Total walking time is an hour (talking time 2 hrs) and we have chosen a route that will include some interesting features and buildings too. The walk will finish up at St Mary’s Church in the Lace Market, where you will receive a complimentary copy of the Heritage Book and the opportunity to seek refreshment at a local pub

The Bendigo Story is registered with Visit Britain, the corporate website of the UK Tourism Industry. We have the Industry Standard mark meaning we follow government and industry COVID-19 guidelines. A Risk Assessment is in place and a process to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.

Whilst The Bendigo Story is an outdoor activity, we assess all of the locations and premises that may be visited. This might be in relation to the measures they have in place for social distancing and sanitising.

Our booking system is to encourage pre-booked so that we know the numbers involved will be manageable

Booking is via this link

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-bendigo-story-tickets-127381011033

BENDIGO

Our supporter Stuart Whomsley, tells the Bendigo story in this poetic tribute.

Great work Stuart, thank you.

Bendigo
 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Way back in the bible, a long time ago
Thrown by Nebuchadnezzar into the fiery pit
Surely that was the end of it?
But one son rose like a phoenix from the flame
Baptised in St Mary’s font with a different name
William Thompson, but as we all know,
William Thompson was Nottingham’s Bendigo
 
Bare chested Bendigo enters the ring,
Looks at his rival Caunt, with a massive old grin
Knuckles hit stomach then face, stomach then face
Sweat and blood, all over the place,
Caunt, he is hurting, now down on the floor
Victory for Bendigo. Hear the crowds roar
Southpaw, athletic, intelligent, quick and game
Soon all of England knew Bendigo’s name.
Banter like Ali when in his prime
Champion of all England by 1839
 
After the boxing, social justice was Bendigo’s fight
Rioting with the Nottingham Lambs deep into the night
Drink then did to Bendigo what no man could do
Put him down in the gutter, seemed his fight was through
Then preacher Richard Weaver lifted him up
Swapped communion wine for the beer in his cup
Reborn preacher Bendigo toured the land
Could not read the bible, but he could still understand
"See them belts? See them cups?” 
They were all vanity, and that self destructs.
The value of a soul cannot be priced,
“I used to fight for those, now I fight for Christ."
Satan he is hurting, Satan is now on the floor,
Victory for Jesus. Hear the crowds roar.
The hillsides of Nottingham were Bendigo’s Zion,
Bendigo, Bendigo Nottingham’s Lion.
 

Every Grave Tells A Story

We have now discovered more information about the grave of Mary Thompson, Bendigo’s mother.

It is not in the same plot as Bendigo, but actually in an entirely different cemetery.

Below is a photograph of a plaque, which is near to Bendigo’s grave. The information on the plaque is incorrect.

Plaque on the wall at the entrance to St Mary’s Rest Garden

Not only that, we have also discovered some interesting names to add to the Bendigo story.

Thanks to Scott Lomax (the archaeologist for Nottingham City Council) for pointing us in the right direction, literally. He has located the grave of Mary Thompson, and provided this plan of Nottingham’s General Cemetery to assist us in finding it.

General Cemetery (Plot 9136 marked in black)

Let’s remind ourselves of the Thompson family.

Bendigo’ parents were Benjamin Thompson and Mary Levers. They married at St Mary’s Church in Nottingham in 1805. They had the following children. 

Rebecca Thompson, born in 1805. Nothing more is known about her.

Thomas Thompson, born in 1807). We know that Thomas had two sons Benjamin and William.                                           

John Thompson, born in 1809. John became a respected optician in Nottingham. We do not believe he had any children. 

William and Richard Thompson, born as twins in 1811. They were probably triplets, with the third child not surviving the birth. Richard died a week later. Maybe this created the bond between William and his mother. A bond that was never broken.                                                                                                 

Mary Thompson, born in 1815. Mary died as a child in 1818

Why is it important to identify the grave of Bendigo’s mother?

Mary Thompson had a huge influence on his life. We must remember that not only was Bendigo the only triplet to survive, his father died when Bendigo was 15 years old. Both Bendigo and his mother ended up poverty stricken and spent time in the workhouse.

As Bendigo developed his reputation as a prize-fighter, he remained close to his mother. She is known to have encouraged him to take on Tom Paddock for his final fight in 1850. As a 39 year-old, Bendigo was in two minds as to whether to accept the fight or not. His 82 year-old mother encouraged him by saying “I tell you this Bendy, if you don’t take up the fight you’re a coward. And I tell you more, if you don’t fight him, I’ll take up the challenge myself.” Bendigo won the fight and stepped down undefeated as champion, with two prize belts and four silver cups to his name, perhaps the last of the great prize-fighters. 

Whilst there is no headstone on Mary Thompson’s grave, the records show that Bendigo’s older brother Thomas is also buried there. He is buried in the plot next to Mary. Thomas was buried there on 27th December 1863, aged 57 years. He was described as an engineer. He is interred in plot 9137 with an Elizabeth Thompson and Eliza Proctor.

What do we know about those buried with Thomas Thompson?

We know that Thomas Thomson had two sons by his first wife. He had moved to Sheffield in Yorkshire. Thomas’ second son (also named William) was charged but acquitted of his wife’s manslaughter in 1876.

Thomas appears to have returned to Nottingham. His second wife was previously known by the name Elizabeth Yates. We know that Bendigo was friends with a man called George Yates. He and George used to go fishing together. This helps to show that the family as a whole remained close. We know nothing more about Eliza Proctor.

Bendigo’s other brother, John Thompson was buried in the Rock Cemetery in 1873 aged 64 years. He is buried on his own in plot 1292.

Here are a sequence of photographs which will take you to Mary Thompson’s grave.

Why did the family use several burial grounds?

You have to remember that in those days the church was far more influential in society, than today. Also burials were the norm.

Nottingham’ main church was St Mary The Virgin Church on High Pavement in what is now known as Nottingham’s historic Lace Market.

With the development of the lace and textile trade, the population of Nottingham had increased dramatically. The area around St. Mary’s Church changed too.

This expansion brought with it many problems, not least of which was where to bury the dead. The parish church yard rapidly began to run out of space and it was decided new burial grounds were needed. Between 1742 and 1813 three new cemeteries were created on land around Barker Gate, near the church.

By the time of Bendigo, even these burial grounds were becoming full. Ordinary people would rarely pre-arrange a family plot. Burials were arranged the most convenient cemetery available.

Bendigo himself is buried at a former cemetery on Bath Street. This was created in 1935, after a Quaker by the name of Samuel Fox donated the land, after an outbreak of cholera in 1835.

The Nottingham General Cemetery Company was opened by Royal Assent for their Act of Parliament on 19 May 1836. The site covers 18 acres which is on a slope. The lower entrance is on Waverley Street (opposite the Arboretum) and then rises up to the cemetery gatehouse and alms-houses at the top entrance of Sion Hill, now Canning Circus. When the cemetery was opened, a single grave cost 7s 6d (equivalent to £34 in 2019). It stopped allocating new plots in 1923. The freehold passed to Nottingham City Council in 1956. The mortuary chapels were demolished in 1958.

The General Cemetery contains the war graves of 336 Commonwealth service personnel and one Belgian war grave from World War I. Most of those buried there had died at military hospitals in the city. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission continue to maintain the graves. One of the notable people buried here in 1888, is Samuel Morley VC. Morley was awarded the Victoria Cross, not once, but twice.

Nottingham’s Church or Rock Cemetery was not opened until 1856, and was not an option for the burial of Mary Thompson.

St Mary’s Church was also responsible for the Nottingham workhouse from 1726. This was the same workhouse where Bendigo and his mother were sent in around 1827. The church continued to manage the workhouse until 1834, when responsibility was transferred from parishes to secular Boards of Guardians. The workhouse was demolished in 1895 to clear part of the site needed for the construction of the Nottingham Victoria railway station.

As Nottingham expanded, St Mary’s created further parishes, including the Holy Trinity Church near to Bendigo’s birthplace. It is worth noting these, to show the influence that the Anglican Church had in society.

1822 St Paul’s Church, George Street, Nottingham.

1841 Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Square.

1844 St John the Baptist’s Church, Leenside (destroyed by bombing in May 1941).

1856 St Mark’s Church, Nottingham.

1856 St Matthew’s Church, Talbot Street.

1863 St Ann’s Church, Nottingham.

1863 St Luke’s Church, Nottingham

1863 St Saviour’s, Arkwright Street

1864 All Saints’, Raleigh Street, Nottingham.

1871 St Andrew’s Forest Road, Nottingham.

1881 Emmanuel Church, Woodborough Road.

1888 St Catharine’s, St Ann’s Well Road, next to St Mary’s Rest Garden on Bath Street.

1903 St Bartholomew’s Church, Blue Bell Hill Road.

Thank you for reading this.

We hope to find out more details, and update you.

Memorial Walk – 140 Years On

Supporters of the legendary prize-fighter ‘Bendigo’ will walk the route of his funeral, 140 years to the day.

On Sunday 23rd August 2020, supporters of the Bendigo Memorial Fund will walk the route of Bendigo’s funeral cortege in 1880.

The walk will go from the site of his former home at Wollaton Road, Beeston to his grave at Bath Street in Nottingham City Centre, a distance of 5.7 miles.

Here’s what the Nottinghamshire Guardian reported on 3rd September 1880.

The funeral of William Thompson, better known to the public as ‘Bendigo’, the ex prize-fighter, whose death occurred at his residence at Beeston on Monday last, took place on Friday afternoon in St Mary’s burying ground, St Ann’s Well Road Nottingham. 
The circumstances attending the death of this Nottingham celebrity are already well known, and it is unnecessary here to recount them further than to say that death took place in consequence of injuries received by a fall downstairs some little time ago. 
The funeral procession, which consisted of a hearse and several carriages conveying the relatives and friends of the deceased, left Beeston at one o’clock for Nottingham, the departure being witnessed by an immense number of residents. 
On the journey considerable interest was taken in the cortege, which moved at a very slow pace, and on arriving in Nottingham shortly after two o’clock, by the Derby Road, several hundreds of spectators had assembled to follow the remains to the grave. These were quickly augmented as the procession reached the Market-place, and on arriving at the gate of the burying ground – several thousands of persons were waiting to witness the funeral ceremony. 
Arrived at the door of the chapel the coffin was borne by some of Bendigo’s old friends into the building, where the service of the Church of England appointed for the burial of the dead was solemnly performed by the Rev. William Murray, curate of St Stephen’s Church, Nottingham, in the presence of a few who had been fortunate enough to gain admission. Outside a scene of a very different character was witnessed. As it was impossible for the immense concourse of people to gain admission to the chapel, a sort of religious service was conducted by several revivalists with whom Bendigo when alive was identified. Mr Richard Weaver, a well-known revivalist, through whose instrumentality the deceased prize-fighter is said to have ben brought under religious influence, mounted on of the mourning coaches, and gave out the hymn Welcome Home, which was loudly sung by the crowd, composed to a great extent of the lower classes. After this Mr Weaver delivered an address, in the course of which he said he was glad to see they had met to witness the burial of the ‘rags of Old Bendy’, for in the chapel close by were only the ‘rags’ of their old friend; he himself had gone above. The speaker then went on to give an account of his meeting with Bendigo some years since in the Mechanics Hall, Nottingham, by which led the deceased’s subsequent conversion. 
By this time the first part of the service in the chapel was concluded, and as soon as the coffin and the procession appeared from the building a rush was made towards them, and it was with great difficulty that the grave was reached. Fortunately a strong posse of police was present to keep order, so that there was no disturbance save what was necessarily caused by such a large assembly. The officers, however, were successful in keeping the people so far from the grave as to prevent annoyance, and the concluding part of the funeral service was gone through by Mr Murray. The coffin, which was covered with a number of immortelles, was then lowered into the grave. It bore the following inscription: William Thompson, alias Bendigo, born 11th October 1811 aged 68 years.
Next followed an impressive address by the officiating clergyman, who spoke of the deceased’s life, which had been brought under the influence of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. After the Rev gentleman had finished his observations, which were eagerly listened to, Mr J Dupe gave put a hymn, followed by an address, in which the speaker said that Bendigo’s last words were, ‘Harry, meet me in heaven’. Mr Weaver and other speakers followed, while the spectators pressed forward to take a view of the coffin in the grave, which is situated near to where the deceased’s mother is laid.
The people however, throwing off the restraint under which, for a short time they had been placed, commenced to joke and jeer and to talk of the early life of the deceased. The principal battles in which he had engaged were discussed freely, and such names as ‘Ben Caunt’, and ‘Jem Ward’ were constantly heard. Others directed their conversation to the deceased’s after life, and his appearance upon the platform as a revivalist. This kind of thing continued for some time, after which the multitude quietly dispersed.
Nottinghamshire Guardian article from Friday 3rd September 1880