The Grade II listed ornate ‘sarcophagus’ tomb in the churchyard of St Mary’s is a striking memorial to Mr Edward Chuck, one of Ware’s most revered and prominent citizens of first half of the 19th century. He died in November 1852 aged 69, following a cart accident in High Oak Lane (this used to follow on from Crib Street until High Oak Road was built).
The inscription is now weather-worn and partly illegible, but it was recorded in about 1910 by William Gerish, a Hertfordshire antiquarian. It reads:-
‘To the memory of Edward Chuck Esq,..an eminent maltster of this town and magistrate of the court of Hertford who died from the effects of a severe accident November 2nd 1852 in his 70th year. This tomb is erected by his sorrowing widow. He was a dutiful son, a kind husband, a considerate master and a faithful ….. [illegible]. Having raised himself to affluence by honest industry he secured the esteem and respect of all who knew him, by his upright and benevolent character. And when suddenly called from this world he met the summons with Christian fortitude, calmlly [sic] resigning his soul into the hands of God. And dying as he had lived, in charity with all men.’
The other side reads ‘In memory of Elizabeth Moore Chuck, widow of the late Edward Chuck who departed this life 14th January 1860 aged 74 years’.
The Hertfordshire Mercury reported the accident in great detail…
Fatal accident to E Chuck Esq
It is our painful task to record a distressing accident, fatal in its consequences which has deprived the town of Ware of one of its most opulent and influential inhabitants; and the magistracy of this County of a member, who represented amongst them that great middle class in which he had raised himself by his integrity, his industry and his ability. The gentleman we refer to is Mr Edward Chuck, maltster of Ware. The particulars of the occurrence which deprived him of his life are briefly as follows:-
On Tuesday morning about seven o’clock, Mr Chuck was proceeding in a chaise to a farm of his, known as ‘Noahs Ark Farm’ in company with a carpenter named Hollingsworth who was going to do some work at the farm. Mr Chuck had passed through Crib Street and proceeded about 300 yards up High Oak Lane, when he met a cart drawn by two horses. The lane in question is extremely narrow, and the carter, on observing the chaise, drew up close to the bank and Mr Chuck went on at a walking pace, believing he had ample room to pass.
He had not quite cleared the cart, when the horse swerved, and some part of the chaise came in contact with the hind part of the cart. A slight jerk was felt at the moment, and instantly the shafts snapped short under the front of the chaise, and the horse walked on with the shafts, pulling the reins with it and so causing the body of the chaise to pull forwards. Mr Chuck and Hollingsworth were thrown out side by side, but the fall of the latter was broken by the dashing-iron. Mr Chuck fell aside of the dashing iron heavily on his knee which was frightfully fractured by the concussion. Hollingsworth almost instantly got up and procured a chair from a neighbouring cottage, set Mr Chuck on it and went to Ware for Mr Chuck’s medical attendant and his close carriage.
Mr McNab almost immediately arrived and removed the injured gentleman to his own horse. On examination the injuries were found so serious a nature that Mr McNab considered it necessary to call in the aid of Dr Davies, and after consulting with him, telegraphed to London for Mr Solly, who arrived early in the afternoon. A second consultation then took place, and it having being determined that amputation was necessary Mr McNab announced the result of the conference to Mr Chuck who gave his consent and the operation was performed at seven o’clock on Tuesday evening, while the deceased was under the influence of chloroform. The operation was entirely successful and for a time all appeared to be going on well; but unfavourable symptoms supervened, arising, as the medical attendants believed, from internal injuries and which they were wholly unable to check; and the deceased gradually sunk, until 12 o’clock on Thursday when he expired.’
After the accident, he was said to be very calm and that the driver of the cart should not be blamed. He was known as a frank and hardworking man with genuine manners who was proud of his lower class origins. He was a lover of the arts, attached to the church and was generous with his subscriptions to various charities. At the time of his death, he was carrying on a large malting business in Ware, a wholesale lead and glass business in London and a handful of farms. He paid over £100 week in wages at Ware.
An inquest was held at the Clarendon Inn (which stood where the former Wine Lodge now stands); the verdict being ‘accidental death’.