Plaque: John and Uriah Wilkinson
John Wilkinson died July 8th 1804 aged 15 years Uriah Wilkinson died Dec 21st 1806 aged 45 years.
16 ft 6 ins north of wall in Cloak Lane 7 feet east of this wall.
This plaque is the lowest of those on the wall that you can see through the open gate. A good look at the other plaque-like objects may help answer the queries that this plaque raises, or just raise more questions.
This entry was a real team effort. Alan Patient first found the photo of the plaque online, Andrew Behan then found it on Street View (2008 is the only date on which the Google camera captures the gate open) and researched the names, and then Alan took our own photo of the plaque.
Site: John and Uriah Wilkinson (1 memorial)
EC4, Cloak Lane
This plaque is puzzling in a number of ways: Material? Date erected? Where erected? Why erected? It’s not a simple burial marker since the last section of text directs one to the location of the grave. This suggests the plaque was created after some disturbance took place. We know that the church on this site, St John the Baptist upon Walbrook, was lost in the 1666 fire and never rebuilt. So, any one buried here in the early 1800s would have had graves in the graveyard, not the church, and hence the grave marker(s) would have been normal outside gravestones, not a plaque like this.
We know of no disturbance of the graveyard until 1884 when the railway arrived. The style of lettering looks earlier than that date but perhaps it was felt appropriate to ‘antique’ the plaque. The inscription on the nearby monument declares that "The formation of the District Railway having necessitated the destruction of the greater part of the churchyard all the human remains contained therein were carefully collected and reinterred in a vault beneath this monument". This suggests that the Wilkinsons' grave could have been in the smaller part of the churchyard which was not destroyed, but perhaps was turned into a small park. For whatever reason, the grave markers were removed and someone cared enough for the Wilkinsons (buried 80 years before) to want to record the location of their grave.
Another puzzle is the location text: it refers to two walls: the wall to which the plaque is attached and also a wall in Cloak Lane, but the plaque is on a wall in Cloak Lane. And how can something be east of a wall which runs east-west? All this suggests that the plaque has been moved. On our page for the Victorian memorial for the moved bodies we have already commented on the unusual display of that 3D monument. this 1904 map shows that the site, post the 1884 disruption, had no buildings and that the monument was free-standing in an oblong area. If this plaque was on the west wall of that space, then, according to the inscription, the Wilkinsons' grave would have been in the area to the north of the monument.
So the probably course of events is that the Wilkinsons were buried in the graveyard of St John the Baptist upon Walbrook, with normal gravestones. When the arrival of the railway caused the graveyard to be disturbed, the Wilkinsons' grave marker was removed and the grave's position was recorded with this plaque. Later another disturbance took place, possibly the construction of a building on the site, which caused the repositioning of the monument and also caused this plaque to be moved, possibly to its current position, thus losing its meaning and purpose.
Moving on to the people concerned: The commemorated grave contained Uriah Wilkinson, and John, who predeceased him aged only 15.
We gave this problem to Andrew Behan, who, despite the early date, has probably identified the two deceased. He writes “Most of my research depends on records from 1837 onwards when registrations for all births, marriages and deaths were recorded and local records were published in a national form by the General Register Office in London on a quarterly basis each year. Prior to this we only have sporadic records of baptisms, marriages and burials in church registers and most of these records are not on line.
I was able to find that a Uriah Wilkinson was, on 8 July 1794, admitted to the Freedom of the City of London by redemption into the Worshipful Company of Barbers. The fee was £2-6s-8d. The records state that he was the son of David Wilkinson of Manchester. (There are two ways to be admitted to the Freedom: by patrimony or by redemption. By patrimony is where the person was born after their father had already become a Freeman. Being born before your father was a Freeman does not enable you qualify by patrimony. The other method is by redemption where the applicant has to pay a fee to be admitted).
I was also able to trace that a Uriah Wilkinson, the son of David and Mary Wilkinson, was baptised on 16 August 1761 in Manchester Cathedral. Assuming that this Uriah Wilkinson was baptised as a young baby (as was common practice) he would have been born earlier in 1761. This would tie in nicely with the plaque that states Uriah Wilkinson was aged 45 years when he died in 1806.
Unfortunately, I could find no record of a baptism for a John Wilkinson in or around 1788/9. But I did find a baptism held on 18 June 1784 in St Anns Church, Manchester for James, the son of Uriah and Ann Wilkinson. Could this father be the same Uriah Wilkinson? Probably, as he would have been aged 22 or 23 years at the time, but I cannot be certain.
To have a memorial plaque erected here in or around 1806/7, one would expect it to have been someone of affluence, and a Freeman of the City of London would seem to fit the bill quite nicely.