Rev H. T. ELLACOMBE, rector of Clyst St George

Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser

July 12th, 1871

A Devon Worthy

From the, "Memoir of General Sir Charles Grene ELLICOMBE, K.C.B, whose death was recorded a fortnight since.

"He was the 5th surviving son of the Rev William ELLICOMBE, rector of Alphington, by Hannah daughter of co-heiress of Thomas ROUS of Farrington, Esq, and the younger brother of John William ELLICOMBE, Ensign in the 40th Regiment, killed at Oude-Carspel in Holland, 19th September 1799. His only surviving brother is Rev H. T. ELLICOMBE [who some years since revived the ancient mode of spelling the family name], rector of Clyst St George, Topsham, in the same county. He was born in his father's rectory, on the 3rd August 1783, and after receiving his early education at the grammar school in Chudleigh, entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, as a cadet on the 14th September 1798, from which he passed in the corps of Engineers, on the 1st July 1801, and in consequence of the usual number of vacancies, obtained at once the rank of first Lieutenant.

From that date until November 1802, he was employed under Major-General EVELEIGH, in the military works and fortifications of Portsmouth, and was then ordered to Ceylon, where he arrived in January 1803, being one of the first batch of British Engineers ever stationed there. At that time the colony was in a very disturbed state, which necessitated active military operations. In theses Lieutenant ELLICOMBE had his full share and acquired high credit as a young officer for his zealous and useful services. In 1806 on the 1st July, he became 2nd Captain, and had to return from Ceylon to England in September 1807, in very shattered health. On regaining his health after several months leave, he held the appointment of 2nd Engineer at Chatham, from July 1808 to May 1811, and served afterwards for a few months, to September 1811, as commanding engineer of the northern district of England On the 1st May 1811, he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and in October following joined the army under WELLINGTON, in the Peninsula. In January 1812, he was at the siege of Cindad Rodrigo. For some time he was one of the directors of the attack, and accompanied the column of VANDELEUR'S brigade to the storm of the breach. In March and April the same year, he was at the siege of Badajoz. Among the many incidents of that hard service that fell to his lot, it is recorded of him, that being on duty at the advance sap on the glacis of the lunette of St Roque, he went, at dusk, to adjust the lines of direction of the sap for the night. Those portions of it already being proved to be in a very good and safe direction, but the return marked by the white tracing tape [and not then commenced] he found to fall directly on the Castle, which he at once rectified. On coming back to the camp after being relieved, he mentioned the discovery he had made, occasioned apparently by the white line catching in the dark against a stone or bush. Had the return been executed as the white line indicated, it would have been in the direct enfilade of three guns. With the keen sight of thorough soldiers the French immediately perceived their advantage, and, as proved by some Engineer orders afterwards found in Badajoz, had prepared a reception for our troops which, but for the clear and searching eye which discovered and rectified the mistake, would have made the trench a place of massacre. For his services at this siege, ELLICOMBE received the brevet rank of major on the 27th April, having been recommended by the Duke in his despatch of the 10th of that month. Subsequently he present in the retreat from Burhes and crossing the Ebro.

The following year he took part in the battle of Vittoria, serving on the Staff as Major of the Brigade, and shortly after was detailed for the siege of San Sebastian through the whole of which [from July 11 to September8] he acted as Brigade Major to the corps. For his exertions in the effectual discharge of this onerous duty, and his distinguished conduct, he was made Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel, September 21st 1813. And under the order of June 1st 1814, was decorated with a gold medal. He subsequently fought at the passage of the Bidassoa, and also at the battle of the Nivelle and Nive on the 10th, 11th, and 12th, December, 1813, concluding his war career by sharing in the campaign of 1814, particularly at the passage of the Adeur, blockade of Bayonne, and repulse of the sortie from that fortress. At the cessation of hostilities he joined the head-quarters of the army at Toulouse, and in July returned to England.

Some thirty years afterwards, for these distinguished services, he was awarded the war medal and five clasps for Ciudad, Redrigo, Badajoz, Vittoria, Nivelle and Nive. On the 4th June 1815 he was created on of the first Companions of the Bath, and in July was appointed to Eastbourne as commanding engineer of the Sussex district, which command he filled till the 8th January 1821, from which he was removed from being Major of the Brigade to the corps. As such he was attached to the Inspector-General of Fortifications at the Ordinance Office, London, having been selected for the duty on account of his well-known administrative ability and intimate acquaintance with the vast range of complicated details connected with the military and scientific business of the corps, for which his great energy, clear mind, and untiring activity so singularly fitted him, and he continued to fill the functions of the office till December, 1842, near 22 years, during which he had attained the ranks of Lieutenant-Colonel in the corps, 23rd March 1825, Brevet-Colonel, 22nd July 1830, Regimental Colonel, 10th January 1837, and Major General, 23rd November 1841. His subsequent promotions, Lieutenant General 11th Nov 1851, Colonel Commandant of Engineers, 30th May 1856, General, 20th April 1861, followed on the 10th Nov 1862, by his advancement to the honour of a Knight Commander of the Bath.

For several years he contributed some of his valuable time as a Director, and subsequently Deputy Governor [having declined the Governorship] of the new River Company, where his engineering abilities were of considerable public advantage, and in that undertaking he engaged himself the more heartily as a direct descendant from the original adventurer Sir Hugh MYDDLTON, from which the elder branches of the family still inherit a large interest. He married in 1822, May 3rd, a daughter of Rev Edmund PEACH, rector of Cheam, Surrey, who died without issue, June 25th 1860. On withdrawing from the active duties of his profession he passed at Worthing a life of great retirement, in accordance with his own natural unobtrusiveness, and dislike of putting himself forward."

February 25th, 1885

The late Rev H. T. ELLACOMBE

The funeral of the late Rector of Clyst St George took place yesterday. The coffin, borne by the ringers and workmen of the deceased gentleman, left the rectory at 7.25am followed by his daughters, Mrs WELLAND, Miss ELLACOMBE, and Miss G. ELLACOMBE, and amongst the numerous friends that attended were Lord DUNBOYNE, W. C. SIM, Esq, Adjutant COURTENAY, Colonel JACKSON, T. KOKEWICH Esq, Messers HERNE, PHILLIPS, STOKES, ELLIS, LEATT, WELLAND, COLES etc, and churchwardens HELLIER and STILES. Amongst the clergy present were, Revs F. W. PULLIN, J. G. DANGAR, T. W. WHALE, Dr KERR, J. L. FULFORD, G. ALFORD, C. D. E. MALET, and J. T. BARTLETT. The officiating clergy were the Rev C. R. CHEPE, curate of the parish, and the Rev T. G. MARSHALL. The remains were afterwards removed to Bitton, via G. W. R. in charge of Messers J. L. and H. STEER of Clyst St George, the undertakers, who had the management of carrying out of all the arrangements. Arrived at Bitton the cortege was met by a number of clergy [friends and relatives of the deceased], and a large concourse of parishioners. The service here was conducted by the Rev Preb ACLAND and Bishop TOXER. The deceased was followed to his last resting place by Canon the Rev H. N. ELLACOMBE, Vicar of Bitton, Mrs WELLAND, Miss ELLACOMBE, Miss G. ELLACOMBE, Mr H. N. ELLACOMBE and family, and Mr George ELLACOMBE.

As a mark of respect to the late Rector of Clyst St George Rev H. T. ELLACOMBE, eight members of the St Sidwell's Society of Ringers rang a muffled peal comprising 1,050 Grandsire Triples, on the parish bells on Tuesday evening. Treble, J. MOSS, second, F. R. SHEPHERD, third W. G. GOSS, fourth, A. SHEPHERD, fifth, W. RICHARDSON, sixth, E. SHEPHERD, seventh F. SHEPHERD, tenor, T. J. LAKE. It has also been suggested in a letter to the "Standard" by Mr T. A. TURNER, President of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers, that a similar tribute ought to be made to the memory of the deceased by the whole of the ringing fraternity. He writes, "No one has done more than he to advocate the science of change ringing and to elevate the ringers in the social scale. To his great energy and ability all the County and Diocesan Ringing Association owes their birth. He has visited more towns than any other man in the land and has unearthed many an "Ancient Briton" in the old church steeple. He has written more upon bells than any other man, and his great learning and courtesy were extended to any and every correspondent, however humble. He was the means of our earliest special organ, "Church Bells" being started in 1870, and despite his great age, he has to the last edited its columns on "Bells and Bell Ringing".

Comrades all! With permission of vicar and churchwarden, sometime during this month, and out of respect to the good man, let us ring a muffled peal, or a date touch, or a plain course [sending a report to the bell papers], or, at the least, a round ring as a requiem."

Attention has been called by another correspondent to the fact that the Rev H. T. ELLACOMBE had attained a national reputation as a florist. "The Garden" a paper in which he was a contributor, in June 1853, dedicated its 23rd volume to the rev gentleman describing him as a "grand old gardener" An excellent portrait was given as a frontspiece and in a short biographical sketch it was stated that "few men have done more to promote the culture of both the hardy plants and trees than he has done." In a last tribute to his memory which appears in the current issue of the same paper, he is described as, "the patriarch of the hardy" gardening fraternity of recent years, and used playfully to sign himself the "old gardener"."

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