Memorials to Agnes Elizabeth Jones, 1832-68

Pioneer of the nursing profession

Agnes was born into a wealthy family in Cambridge in 1832, but moved to Fahan, Co Donegal in Ireland while very young. Her father was in the army and the family travelled a great deal as he was posted overseas. Agnes herself was very religious and had a strong sense of responsibility from an early age, always concerned with welfare of others.

In 1853, while on holiday with her family in Europe, Agnes met deaconesses from the Institute of Kaiserwerth, which ran one of the world’s first training schools for nursing. She also spent time at the Institution in Bonn, learning new standards of nursing. Once back in Ireland, she worked at Dublin Hospital, spending her spare time helping the sick and dying homeless in the city.

Passionate about her calling, in 1859 she moved to London where she met Florence Nightingale and Sarah E Wardroper, at that time the senior nurse at St Thomas Hospital. This inspired her to begin formal training as a nurse in 1862 at the Nightingale School at St Thomas’ Hospital. After a year’s study, she took up nursing roles in London, including acting as the Superintendent of the Great Northern Hospital from 1863-4.

Meanwhile in Liverpool, the philanthropist and merchant William Rathbone was keen to improve standards for the poor. In 1865, on the recommendation of Florence Nightingale, Rathbone invited Agnes to take a lead role in his new experiment to introduce trained nurses to the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary on Brownlow Hill. The law at the time discouraged the poor from entering the workhouses by making conditions inside far worse than for working poor outside. Those currently nursing the sick were female paupers who hadn’t had any nursing training. Rathbone believed so strongly in the measure that he personally funded the first three years of the experiment, rather than the money coming out of local taxes. Agnes was the first nurse countrywide to be appointed as the superintendent of such an institution.

Agnes threw herself into the role with a passion, tackling the typhus and cholera raging through the patients by cleaning the wards, destroying filthy bed linen and further improving conditions. She headed up a team of 12 nurses and 65 assistant nurses. As a direct result of her actions, the mortality rate dropped and health and living conditions in the workhouse improved.

Agnes Jones Window in Anglican Cathedral

Agnes Jones Window in Anglican Cathedral

However, her dedication to making the poor’s lives better took its toll on Agnes and she succumbed to typhus fever herself, dying on 19 Feb 1868 at the age of just 35.

Although she was buried in St Mura’s Graveyard, Fahan, Ireland, Liverpool recognises her huge contribution to the welfare of the city with memorials including a window in the Lady Chapel of the Anglican Cathedral and a statue in the Cathedral Oratory.



Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Memorials to Alfred Lewis Jones KCMG

Sir Alfred Lewis Jones

Sir Alfred Lewis Jones

Born in Carmarthen on 24 February 1845, Alfred Jones began his career in shipping at an early age. He was apprenticed at twelve to the African Steamship Company in Liverpool and spent numerous years rising through the business, reaching the role of manager by the time he was 26. However, he had greater ambitions and left to begin his own business, borrowing money to buy a couple of small sailing vessels. While successful in his endeavours, Sir Alfred realised that the future lay in steamships and sold his own ships, accepting a managerial position at Messrs Elder, Dempster & Co, which had by then taken over the African Steamship Company.

Alfred negotiated an employment package that included shares in the company and he continued to increase his influence in the shipping world, particularly in acquiring land and businesses in West Africa. He was the first merchant to import bananas to England in 1884 and the ships of the Elder, Dempster & Co line eventually became known as the ‘banana boats’.

As senior partner, he took a leading role in opening up trade routes with the West Indies, as well as developing tourism and the banana industry in the Canary Islands. With his increasing wealth, he became a great philanthropist and founded the world’s first School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool in 1898 – it was here later that it was first discovered that malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite.

Amongst other high profile roles in Liverpool, Alfred was President of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. He was also knighted in November 1901 in recognition of his services to the West African Colonies and to Jamaica.

Sir Alfred Jones Memorial

Sir Alfred Jones Memorial

He died without marrying on 13 December 1909, leaving large charitable bequests. During his final illness, he was impressed with the quality of care he received from local nurses and one of his dying wishes was to erect a new local hospital. Although he didn’t have time to change his will, his sister arranged for a donation of £10,000 to be made towards the building of the Sir Alfred Jones Memorial Hospital in Garston. The hospital opened in 1915 on Woolton Road, and although it was closed in 2009, a new treatment centre on the site incorporates elements of the original architecture.

There is also a Grade II memorial to Sir Alfred Lewis Jones at the south end of the Pier Head in Liverpool, facing west towards the River Mersey. Designed by Sir George Frampton and unveiled in 1913, this commemorates his lifelong support for Liverpool as a major port for trade and commerce. A main street in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands, is also named after him.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Liverpool memorials: Alfred G Rowe

Memorial to a well-travelled man who lost his life in the Titanic disaster

Albert G Rowe - Family Memorial - Inscription

Albert G Rowe – Family Memorial – Inscription

Alfred G Rowe was born in Peru, one of John James and Agnes Rowe’s seven children. His father was a successful merchant involved in trading and shipping between Liverpool and Chile. Alfred was brought up in England, but had certainly inherited his family’s wanderlust. After two years in the family business and education at the Royal Agricultural College in Gloucestershire, he moved to Donley County, Texas and with the princely sum of £500, started a ranch with two of his brothers, Vincent and Bernard.

As a rancher, Alfred flourished and got on well with the cowboys he employed, who thought him an honest man of high business principles. He also contributed greatly to the Texas community he lived in and even chose to become a US citizen while living there. In 1901, he married Constance Ethel Kingsley (a cousin of the priest and novelist Charles Kingsley who wrote The Water Babies) and by 1910, the family had moved back to England. However, Alfred returned to Texas to visit his ranch a couple of times a year.

For his last trip, he booked passage in first class accommodation on the brand new passenger liner, the Titanic, embarking at Southampton on Wednesday, 10 April. But he wasn’t impressed with the mighty ship – four days into the journey, he wrote to his wife, saying the ship was “too big” and “a positive danger” after a near-miss with the SS New York. The letter was posted in Queenstown, Ireland, the last port of call before it set off for New York, and only reached his poor wife after news of his death.

Albert G Rowe Family Memorial, Smithdown Road Cemetery

Albert G Rowe Family Memorial, Smithdown Road Cemetery

Accounts report that when the Titanic began to sink, Alfred refused a place in a life raft, declaring himself a strong swimmer. He made it as far as a floating hunk of ice, but died of hypothermia before his body could be recovered by the cable ship, the Mackay-Bennett. He was buried at Smithdown Road Cemetery on Tuesday 14 May, 1912 and an impressive family memorial marks the spot. His heartbroken wife gave birth to their fourth surviving child five months later and named him after his father. She eventually sold the Texas ranch to one of his hired cowboys, whose heirs still own parcels of the original land today.



Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

George Herbert Tyson Smith (1883 – 1972)

English Sculptor born in Liverpool

Herbert Tyson Smith's memorial, Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool

Herbert Tyson Smith’s memorial, Allerton Cemetery, Liverpool

The legacy of George Herbert Tyson Smith can be seen throughout the Liverpool and Merseyside area. Born in Liverpool in 1883, he was first apprenticed to a stonemason, then studied at Liverpool University and the Liverpool College of Art. He established his own practice in 1912, but was interrupted by serving in the Royal Flying Corps during WWI. Post-war, he set up his first studio, later moving to a larger one behind the Bluecoat Chambers in 1925, where he lovingly carried out some restoration work after bomb damage in 1941.

He was much sought after during his lifetime for his work on war memorials, on Merseyside and beyond. Perhaps the most striking of these is Liverpool Cenotaph, located on The Plateau directly before the entrance of St George’s Hall. First proposed by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool in 1920, the high rates of unemployment after the war delayed fund-raising efforts and a temporary wooden cenotaph was wheeled into position annually until 1930, when the one we see today was unveiled.

Liverpool Cenotaph, St George's Plateau, Liverpool

Liverpool Cenotaph, St George’s Plateau, Liverpool

The Cenotaph, designed by architect Lionel Budden and featuring panels by Smith, is unusual both for its horizontal design and the powerful and modern, realistic portrayals of soldiers and mourners. On one panel, row after row of uniformed men march onwards, as if to war. On the other, a group of mourners in 1920s clothing pay their respects against a backdrop of war graves stretching into infinity. If you get close, you’ll see the exquisite detail – every button, shoelace and fingernail is beautifully portrayed.

Tyson Smith’s work also included the Liverpool Post Office War Memorial, now located in the Met Quarter, and carving lettering and sculptures on many significant Liverpool buildings such as the dolphins, starfish, seahorses, mermen and other nautical details on the outside of Spinney House in Church Street, originally built for Littlewoods stores. His bronze panels for the former Martins Bank on Water Street can be seen in Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Herbert Tyson Smith died in 1972 and is buried in Allerton Cemetery.


Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

William Mackenzie’s Pyramid Tomb, Rodney Street, Liverpool

If you’ve ever passed the former Church of St Andrew (now student accommodation) in Rodney Street, Liverpool, you may have seen the unusual pyramid-shaped memorial in the grounds. It’s commonly thought that monuments of this shape were chosen by people to prevent the devil from lounging on the deceased’s grave. But according to legend, William Mackenzie took this precaution one step further by being interred above ground inside the pyramid in a seated position, with a winning deck of cards in his hand. A keen gambler who allegedly sold his soul to the devil, this civil engineer was apparently keen to avoid having to repay his debt…

William Mackenzie was born in Nelson, Lancashire in 1794 and began his working life as an apprentice weaver, but soon turned his attention to civil engineering. He became one of the leading civil engineering contractors of his era, working on projects such as railway tunnels between Edge Hill and Liverpool and further afield, railway projects in France, Spain, Belgium and Italy. He died at 74 Grove Street, Liverpool in 1851.

William Mackenzie - Pyramid Memorial, Rodney Street, Liverpool

William Mackenzie – Pyramid Memorial, Rodney Street, Liverpool

William’s striking and unusual 15 foot pyramid tomb was erected in his memory in 1868 by his youngest brother Edward, who inherited much of William’s £340,000 estate. It was Grade II listed by English Heritage in 1985. The plaque on the pyramid’s door reads:

“In the vault beneath lie the remains of William Mackenzie of Newbie, Dumfriesshire, Esquire who died 29th October 1851 aged 57 years. Also, Mary his wife, who died 19th December 1838 aged 48 years and Sarah, his second wife who died 9th December 1867 aged 60 years. This monument was erected by his Brother Edward as a token of love and affection A.D. 1868. The memory of the just is blessed”.


Given the 17-year gap between William’s death and the monument’s erection, it seems unlikely that he is still sat at his card table within, but then, the legend has never been disproved either…

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Memorial to John W Sutcliffe and Michael Prendergast

Shot dead during Liverpool’s general transport strike, 1911

In 1911, Britain was in economic decline. Workers’ wages had dropped, the cost of living rose steeply and living conditions were poor. Sailors and firemen in Southampton began the strike, and action quickly spread across the country in solidarity. But Liverpool saw the most organised and persistent action, led by syndicalist Tom Mann who headed up a dedicated strike committee.

Liverpool’s general transport strike of 1911 saw over 70,000 men join the action and by the summer, the city had come to a virtual standstill.

Home Secretary Winston Churchill ordered troops out onto the streets and the authorities shipped in an extra 2,400 police and 5,000 troops from other areas to contain the action. Events came to a head on 13th August at a rally at St George’s Plateau. After Tom Mann’s speech, police attacked crowds apparently without reason. In total, 186 people were hospitalised and 96 arrested.

Two days later, prison vans containing 90 men convicted for involvement in the riots were being escorted by the 18th Royal Hussars towards Walton Jail via Vauxhall Road, a controversial route as many striking dockworkers lived in the area. Unrest broke out and soldiers opened fire on the crowd. Thirteen were injured and two men killed.

  • John Sutcliffe, a 19-year-old carter, was shot twice in the head on the corner of Hopwood Street and Vauxhall Road, virtually on his own doorstep.
  • Michael Prendergast, 30, a docker, was shot twice in the chest at close range on the corner of Lamb Street.
1911 Transport Strike Memorial Plaque

1911 Transport Strike Memorial Plaque

Later inquests gave verdicts of justifiable homicide. But by 24 August, the government had realised it simply couldn’t contain the troubles across the country, and concessions were made to the workers.

This was one of the last occasions in history when British soldiers have killed civilians on the streets of mainland Britain.  It’s widely believed to be the nearest this country has ever come to revolution. But it also transformed trade unionism on Merseyside.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Police Monument and Fire Brigade Memorial

Liverpool’s continuing growth in the nineteenth century as a major international commercial and manufacturing centre presented a huge range of fire risks, from packed warehouses full of combustible goods to densely-packed residential areas. The city’s proud firefighting history is a testament to innovation and bravery. Up until World War II, the Liverpool Fire Brigade was part of the police force. The pictured memorial within Toxteth Park Cemetery is therefore known both as the Police Monument and the Fire Brigade Memorial.

For the Fire Bobbies

Police Monument and Fire Brigade Memorial, Toxteth Park Cemetery

Police Monument and Fire Brigade Memorial, Toxteth Park Cemetery

Erected in 1863, it was paid for by subscription by members of the police force and others to commemorate those who died saving lives and property in fires in the performance of their duties.

The princely sum of around 120 pounds was raised and the memorial was designed by a Mr Beard, the manager of the cemetery at that time. The first names to be engraved were those of Inspector John Commelin, Robert Hardaker and Richard Atkinson.

  • Inspector John Commelin was crushed by a falling wall during a fire in 1861 at Messrs Garnock, Bibby & Co on Wavertree Road, a hemp and wire rope making factory. No other lives were lost. John left a wife and young family.
  • PC Hardaker No: 384 was one of two men to die in a fire at the Sailors’ Home in 1860, falling 40 feet from a ladder which broke as he was ascending to break windows to fight the fire with water. The other death was of a steward at the Home. All residents were saved.
  • PC Richard Atkinson No: 259 died in hospital after sustaining injuries when a wall fell on him at a fire in a packing case manufacturer in School Lane in 1863. No other lives were lost. Richard left a wife and three children.

Further names were added to attest to the bravery of other officers killed in the line of duty over the years, the last two added for deaths in 1921. The memorial was restored and rededicated by Tony McGuirk, Merseyside’s Chief Fire Officer, in 2003.

You can find out more about the fascinating history of Liverpool’s ‘fire bobbies’ at the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service website

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Sarsfield Memorials

Here at Sarsfield Memorials Liverpool, we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes for months now and at last, we’re delighted to announce that after years of faithful service, our old website is retiring and we’ve introduced a fresh new site. Whether you’re familiar with our work or have just come across us, welcome, and thank you for taking the time to look at our website.

So what’s new? As well as refreshing and updating the content, one new feature is this, our regular blog, in which we hope to share updates and interesting stories with you. As always, we welcome your feedback and thoughts.

Pulling together the content for this website has involved me looking back at the early days of Sarsfield Memorials. With a history going back almost seventy years, we’re proud of our local knowledge and reputation, but we didn’t quite expect it to have stretched across the Atlantic and beyond! To our surprise, we’ve had several enquiries recently from as far afield as Australia and America, from people doing genealogy research into their family trees and ancestry. As our customers know, our hours are flexible, so we’ve been conducting transatlantic phone calls late in the evening, revealing interesting snapshots of history.

We’re always happy to help with such requests in any way we can, but it’s especially pleasing when it results in new commissions for our work. One satisfied customer arrived from America only last week to see a memorial from the 1950s which we’d refurbished. It was quite fascinating to discover that the original memorial was supplied by this gentleman’s relative, a William Henry Patrick Wilcoxson, one of the many talented stonemasons who worked on Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Of course, Liverpool Cathedral is the UK’s largest cathedral and the fifth largest in the world. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott at the tender age of 22, it took 74 long years, during which time there were two World Wars and five English monarchs, to construct this wonderful building, from the laying of its foundation stone by King Edward VII in 1904 to its completion and dedication in 1978, attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

All this history really brought home to me the importance of our own work in supplying lasting memorials. Our families all live the most amazing lives in their own way and some are privileged to be involved in huge and lasting undertakings like this staggering cathedral, which continues to touch the lives of millions. People are genuinely interested in their ancestors and some even travel thousands of miles to seek out their legacies.

As a family-run business with a legacy of our own that we’re immensely proud of, we truly understand the importance of your family and the impact it has when you lose a loved one.  From an enquiry from our American friend to the loving hand-preparation of a memorial, we’re honoured to be entrusted with providing the physical presence that preserves your family history and memories of your loved one, for now and for future generations.