Private David Downer was born on 20 April 1823 in Godshill, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, the eldest of the five children of David Downer (1797-1881) and Jane Downer née Merwood (1791-1879). On 18 May 1823 he was baptised in Godshill, Isle of Wight.
The 1841 census shows him living at Little Dungwood, Shorwell, Isle of Wight, with his parents and his three surviving siblings: Fanny Downer (b.1825), Mary Ann Downer (b.1827) and Caroline Downer (b.1829). His brother Mark Downer (b.1832) had died in infancy and his father was shown as an agricultural labourer.
In the 1851 census he is shown as a Private in the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marines at Gosport, Hampshire, his previous employment being recorded as a labourer. When the 1861 census was taken at midnight on 7 April 1861 he was shown as a single man, serving as a Private in the Royal Marines aboard HMS Harrier that was in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa.
He was killed in action, aged 40 years, on 20 November 1863 in the Battle of Rangiriri and was buried in the Maori War and Early Settlers Private Cemetery, 7 Rangiriri Road, Rangiriri, Waikato District, Waikato, New Zealand, where his memorial shows that he was serving in the Royal Marines Light Infantry.
Probate records confirm that Letters of Administration were granted on 10 October 1864 to his father who was described as a labourer living at New Village, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight. His effects were listed as 'Under £100. Queen's Pay'.
He is also commemorated on a memorial plaque located in St. Mary's Church, Fratton Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.