Walter Hawkes

In the part of the cloister of Westminster Abbey called the Dark Cloister, leading to the Little Cloister, is a wall memorial to Walter Hawkes. He attended Westminster School as did his brothers Jeremiah (who was a soldier in India and drowned near Bombay), John, and Joseph. He was a son of Jeremiah Hawkes of London, coal merchant, and his wife Sarah (Walter). Born on 23rd October 1761 he went on to Cambridge university and served in India becoming a Major in 1804. He was a deputy judge at Dinapore and Chunar. In 1797 he married widow Sarah Harriott. They were both drowned while on a voyage home in the ship Experiment in the bay of Bengal.

The Latin inscription can be translated:

Sacred to the memory of Walter Hawkes, who, having served as a soldier in the East Indies for over twenty seven years, being altogether exhausted by sickness and wounds, while returning to his native land was overtaken by storms in the Indian Ocean and, together with his beloved wife who shared his journey and his danger, was swallowed up in a shipwreck (ever, alas, to be lamented) and perished in the year of Christ 1808. His comrade in arms William Franklin, cast down by his tragic fate, placed this stone. For they were both King's Scholars in this place, were nourished by the same studies, and together endured arduous warfare. The one, renowned and illustrious, Colonel of the First Battalion of the Second Regiment, and military judge (Judge Advocate as it is known), vigorous in battle, irreproachable in courts martial, has yielded to Fate. The other, having raised this memorial to his own loss, does not assuage his present grief of spirit, but, trusting in God, he looks forward to renewing their companionship in heaven.

The memorial was conserved in 2018.


23rd October 1761





Memorial Type


Walter Hawkes
Walter Hawkes memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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