Dereham – Church of St. Nicholas (Richard Peacock)

This is another in my series of wanting to find out whatever stories are possible from gravestones, for no real reason other than being intrigued about how much information still remains about a person.

This is the grave of Richard Peacock, who died on 28 April 1856, at the age of 36. The burial record remains and gives his full name, Richard Henry Peacock, buried on Sunday 4 May 1856.

That gives us sufficient information to find Richard on the 1851 census, where he was listed as living with his wife Mary Ann and his 1-year old son, Henry William Peacock. Richard was working as a machine maker and he had been born in Warham (a village in North Norfolk), whilst his wife who was also born in 1820 came from London. At this census, Richard and family were living on Theatre Road, which I assume is the same as Theatre Street in the town today.

Going back to the 1841 census, Richard was living in Binham with his parents, Henry and Ann, as well as numerous siblings. Richard and Mary Ann (nee Roper) married in the church in Dereham in 1848.

The Norwich Mercury reported in January 1856 that Jeremiah Oakley, a machine maker, had been arrested and charged with the theft of two match planes, three chisels and one gouge that belonged to Richard Peacock of Dereham. Given that these were tools used by machine makers, this is likely the same Richard Peacock. In March 1856, the trial took place and more information came to light, which was that Oakley worked with Peacock, who had been ill in late 1855 and noticed the missing items. The court wasn’t convinced and Oakley was found not guilty, although this does now give some background to the illness that may have caused Richard’s death in the April of 1856.

Richard’s grave also notes “also two of his children”, suggesting that they died young. Henry William Peacock, Richard’s son, did survive and was married in 1873, living in Dereham with his family until his death in the first few years of the twentieth century. So, that’s as much as I can find, it’s a life which sounds like it was challenging and led to a relatively early death. It is also sad that the last few months of Richard’s life were mired in part with the court case of some of his items being stolen.