Field Marshal Sir Richard James Dacres GCB.
Born in 1799
Died on the 6th December 1886
Buried in Hurstpierpoint Old Cemetery, behind Holy Trinity Church, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.
Sir Richard James Dacres GCB had a long and distinguished military career. He initially attended the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in 1815 at the age of 16 years and was commissioned from there as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1817. He then progressed through the officer ranks of the British Army - being promoted to and holding every rank that existed at that time. He saw combat in many famous battles including Balaclava, Inkerman, Alma and Sevastapol and continued to be promoted after his 'active service' years ended. His final promotion was to the rank of Field Marshal in July 1886, and it was this rank that he held for the shortest period, just 5 months, as he died in December 1886 at the age of 87.
Although Field Marshal Dacres made his career in the British Army his family was from a long line of high ranking Royal Navy officers. He was the son of Vice Admiral Richard Dacres, his brother Sydney became an Admiral and First Sea Lord, his uncle James Richard Dacres was a Vice Admiral and his cousins Barrington Dacres and James Richard Dacres were both Vice Admirals.
As Sir Richard James Dacres was promoted through the officer ranks of the British Army, his progression was matched by his honours and titles, something that would be expected in nineteenth century British aristocracy. He was honoured with Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Commander of the Order of Savoy, Commander of the Légion d'honneur and the Order of Medjidie - and probably a number of lesser titles and awards which are not all listed.
One honour bestowed upon him by Queen Victoria was in July 1881 when he was appointed "Constable of The Tower of London". With that post came the appointment of "Custos Retuloram of the Tower Hamlets" which was the highest civil post and would equate in a County civil authority to the post held be a 'Lord Lieutenant'. It was during his period in office as Constable of The Tower that he died on the 6th December 1886. Below is a Royal Court Announcement published in the newspapers regarding his appointment to that post :
London Daily News - Wednesday 06 July 1881
WHITEHALL. JULY 2 - The Queen has been pleased to direct Letters Patent to be passed under the Great Seal, appointing General Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B., to be Constable of The Tower of London, in the room of General Sir William Fenwick Williams, of Kars, Bart., G.C.B., resigned - Gazette
WHITEHALL. JULY 2 - The Queen has also been pleased to direct Letters Patent to be passed under the Great Seal, appointing General Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B., to be Lieutenant and Custos Retuloram of the Tower Hamlets in the room of General Sir William Fenwick Williams, of Kars, Bart., G.C.B., resigned - Gazette
Field Marshal Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B. died in Brighton on the 6th December 1886. He is buried in Hurstpierpoint Old Cemetery. Here is a newspaper article relating to his funeral.
Derby Mercury - Wednesday 15 December 1886
FUNERAL OF FIELD MARSHAL DACRES.
The mortal remains of Field Marshal Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B., Constable of The Tower, whose death took place at Brighton on Monday, the 6th inst., were laid to rest in the churchyard at Hurst Pierpoint on Thursday last. Although the deceased General had been a soldier all his life the funeral was only partly of a military character. Had it not been for the presence of the cavalry escort, with the band of the 5th Lancers, and the baton, insignia and sword placed upon the coffin, there was little to show that the soldier who commanded the whole of the siege operations before Sebastopol, and had survived the battles of Alma and Inkerman, was being laid to rest. Doubtless this was fully in accord with the simplicity which marked his character.
He was followed to the grave by his nephews, the Rev. Henry Olivier, Canon Alfred Olivier, of Wilton, and Mr Sydney Dacres. The officiating clergy were Canon Olivier, of Wilton, Cannon Borrer, rector of Hurst Pierpoint, the Rev Pemberton Lloyd and the Rev E.E. Baker. Amongst those present were several who had served as brother officers with the deceased. General Lord Chelmsford (Lieutenant of The Tower of London), General Hay (Governor of The Tower), General Tupper, General FitzHugh, General Sir John Adye G.C.B., General Sir E. Hamlet M.P., General Sir O. Dickson G.C.B., General Sir Henry Gordon (brother of the hero), Colonel Augustus King, Colonel Markham, Lieut-Col Campion, and others.
The oak coffin was completely covered with wreaths and crosses. It bore the following inscription ; "Field-Marshal Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B., (Constable of the Tower of London), who died December 6 1886, Aged 87 years"
Attached is a photograph of Field Marshal Sir Richard James Dacres G.C.B., and also a photograph of his resting place. I took that a couple of months ago. The inscription on the side face of the tomb-stone is the same as the inscription on his coffin - it is quite legible but the whole grave needs a tidy up and a bit of a clean. His grave is against the eastern boundary of the 'old cemetery' at the back of Holy Trinity Church.