MURAL MONUMENTS AT ST. MARGARET'S, WESTMINSTER, HIDDEN BY THE NEW
“Sacred to the Memory of
George Sparrow Esq
Murdered in Sicily when on a special mission
for the British Government in 1807
and of Mary Sparrow his Widow,
who died 20th Feby. 1830, aged 68.
Also of Sigismunda Hannah their daughter
who died 1843, aged 48.
This Tablet is erected by Margaret Elizabeth
last surviving child of the above named George &
Mary Sparrow, in commemoration of the death of
her beloved parents and sister, and who anxiously
looks forward to their reunion through the
merits of a blessed Redeemer.
“GEORGE1 SPARROW was born C 1759, and died December 1807 in Murdered in Cefalu,Sicily age 48 years. He married MARY. She was born C 1761, and died 20 February 1830 in Aged 68 yrs.
More About GEORGE SPARROW:
Occupation: 1807, Kings Messenger, Spy, carrying British papers in Sicily when assassinated
Residence: 22 Downing Street, Westminster
Will: George Sparrow of Downing St, St Margaret, Winchester Middlesex ref PROB 11/1478
More About MARY:
Will: Mary Sparrow of Downing St, Westminster, Middlesex 18/2/1832 Ref PROB 11/1796 “
“Mr. George Sparrow, a King's Messenger, died at Cefelu in the month of September 1807 and was buried in that Town, his wearing apparel was sold to pay the ....”
“Perhaps the most intriguing event relating to our Sparrow / Pennington family tree concerns George Sparrow the father in law of Theodora (Pennington) Sparrow. In 1807 George Sparrow was assassinated as a spy in Sicily carrying British Government documents as a Kings Messenger. At this time, during the Napoleonic wars, the Italian island of Sicily was under British control. His 1804 will shows that he was living at 22, Downing Street and that his executer was a 'Mr Walpole of the Foreign Office'. Further research will hopefully reveal the strange circumstances of his death.”
“In the Rare Books Room at Cambridge University Library, Philip Hargrave was able to inspect a copy of 'The History of the King's Messengers' and confirm the incident. The work of the King's Messengers is to personally carry diplomatic dispatches. In May 1807 George Sparrow embarked on such a mission to Vienna intending then to proceed to Sicily and Constantinople.
News came back that he had died and been buried in September 1807 at Cephalu, Sicily as a result of severe wounds. Further enquiries showed that 'His pistols were with him and both had been fired ………….. his portmanteaux had gone and so had his dispatches …….. he drifted ashore in an empty boat.' The informant promised to send back to Whitehall George Sparrow's silver watch and Messenger's medal with the Kings Arms on it.
The outcome for the Sparrow family was that George's son Robert, and future son in law to our Rector Thomas Pennington (1798 - 1852), was given a commission in the British army in recognition of his father's 'most heroic defence of his dispatches'. The commission was the personal gift of Prince Frederick, Duke of York, and second son of King George III.”
The history of the King's messengers by Vincent Wheeler-Holohan. Published by Grayson & Grayson, 1935. 291 pages. I have access to this work.