Norwich – Earlham Cemetery (Valorous John Wright)

This is the war grave of Valorous John Wright, buried in the older military graves area of Earlham Cemetery. Incidentally, my photo of this grave is at an angle as there’s a big bush in front of it.

Valorous is a wonderful name and it’s because he was born on HMS Valorous, a Royal Navy paddle frigate built in 1851, on 24 December 1866. He went to North Road Boys /Steynton School at Milford Haven and his school records remain from 1878 and 1879.

As is this document which I very much like about the school’s progress and the students clearing off home, with Valorous mentioned at the bottom.

At the 1881 census, Valorous was living with his mother, Mary Jane Wright, at Robert Street in Steynton, his father having already died. There were two lodgers in the property as well with Valorous and his mother, Richard Wakeham and William Tinkham.

He joined the army at Pembroke Dock on 14 June 1883 at the age of 16, although he declared on his form that he was 18 years and 5 months old. He asked to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and his medical was the next day and magically he declared his age to be 19. The records show that he was 5’6″ in height and weighed 8.7 stone.

During his time in the army, Valorous married Martha Huggins on 10 September 1896 at the Church of St. Ethelreda in Norwich. At the 1891 and 1901 censuses, Valorous was away in the army, whilst his wife Martha was living with her father John Huggins, on King Street in 1891 and at 54 Argyle Street in 1901.

Whilst in the army, Valorous fought in South Africa, but was mostly stationed in the UK and he was uninjured in battle during his service. He was promoted to Colour Sergeant on 25 February 1900, moving to the Norfolk Regiment on 27 February 1906 and then leaving the military entirely on 31 July 1909.

Valorous died on 11 December 1910 at the age of 43, leaving his wife who was ten years younger than him, with his burial being on 17 December 1910. During their final year the couple lived at 115 Sprowston Road, a house perhaps more notable today for being opposite the rather lovely Brewery Tap pub. But, my favourite part of this story is really the name, and I think it’s not unusual for people born at sea to be named after the boat that they are on.