Monday, November 5, 2012

Rear Admiral Peter John Puget's Gravesite

Rear Admiral Peter John Puget was born on 16 November 1765 and died on 31 October 1822  in Bath, England. He was entombed 8 November 1822 in the All Saint's Churchyard, Woolley, England. This year marks his 190th year since his death, so our proposed Puget Memorial comes at an appropriate time.

I love a good story and long before Facebook, there was the "agony column" of the London Times; Our famous Rear Admiral Peter Puget's grave-site disappeared from the annuals of history. For over 140 years numerous people had tried to find his burial site, but to no avail. It was as though  his remains had disappeared east of the great pond. In the 1960's a die-heart historian and ship builder in the Pacific Northwest by the name of H.W. McCurdy of the Seattle Historical Society, wasn't about to give up in his efforts to bring honor to this Admiral.

As a final resort, he placed an ad in the"agony column" of the London Times, and within days he received a reply from a Mrs. Kitty Champion of Woolley, who stated they had a Rear Admiral Puget buried in their churchyard and unfortunately," it is the shabbiest grave in the churchyard." Unable to read any of the inscription, she began cleaning the tomb stone and researching the church records. Inscribed: "Rear Admiral Peter Puget C.B. of His Majesty's Royal Navy who after a long and laborious life spent wholly in the service of his country, terminated his earthly career in the arms of his family on the 31 day of October, 1822". In 1965, The Seattle Historical Society honored the grave-site with an memorial bronze plaque.

Today, I went on line to get an image of his grave and discovered some old photos from the archives of the Seattle Times are for sale on E-Bay. This photo was taken at the grave-site in Woolley, England at the ceremony in March 1965 when the Seattle Historical Society installed their plaque. I love serendipity. Amazing to see this old photo.

"A bronze tablet marking the recently discovered grave in Southern England of Peter Puget, the naval officer for whom Puget Sound was named, was dedicated in the churchyard of All Saints in Woolley, a suburb of Bath, in Somerset. J.E. Green, left, of London represented the Seattle Historical Society, which had sent the tablet to England. The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Rev. Edward Henderson, dedicated the plaque. More than 100 persons, including Wilfred H. Evans of Burton, Vashon Island, Washington, a civilian employee of the United States Navy in London, attended the ceremony." Seattle Times, 31 March 1965

So, on this Thursday, 8 November 2012, 190 years after his burial, let us all bow our heads and celebrate his extraordinary life and embrace our mission of creating a memorial to honor him in the waters he explored and the waters we, as boaters, so enjoy. McCurdy and the Seattle Historical Society honored Puget in England with a plaque and now its time to honor him with one in Puget Sound.

ref: Peter Puget, by Robert Wing and Gordon Newell, Gray Beard Publishing of Seattle, 1979