The memorial plaque to Dr Alexander Stewart Brown (1855 - 1900) reads. "Alexr Stewart Brown, Of Brockley, Fellow Of The Royal College Of Surgeons, Though Suffering From Severe Spinal Injury, The Result Of A Recent Accident, Died From His Brave Efforts To Rescue A Drowning Man And Restore His Life, October 9 1900."
In fact, it was whilst embarking upon a recuperative break, to recover from the spinal injury mentioned on the plaque, that Dr. Brown lost his life.
Regarding his loss, the Whistable Times and Herne Bay Herald carried the following article on the 27th October 1900:-
"Dr. Stewart Brown, of Holly Bank, Brockley-road, S.E., has died under sad circumstances.
A fortnight ago he had a carriage accident, which severely injured his spine.
In pursuit of health, he was travelling to the South of Europe, and just as he arrived at the quay at Boulogne, he saw a man fall from the pier.
Without hesitation, injured though he himself was, he jumped overboard, and brought the stranger ashore.
Then, in his wet clothes, he set to work to revive respiration.
This took him two hours, but he discharged his duty bravely.
He had to come back home at once, and, as a consequent of his nobility of conduct, he died on Wednesday, much to the regret of manifold friends in Lewisham."
The funeral of Dr Alexander Stewart Brown took place on Tuesday October 30th 1900.
In its edition of Saturday 3rd November 1900, the Leamington Spa Courier published a detailed report on the funeral and of the sermon given by the presiding clergyman, the Rev. W. Russell:-
"The funeral of the late Dr. A. Stewart Brown, Brockley, whose death we announced last week, took place on Tuesday morning at Lewisham Cemetery amid general signs of mourning.
The coffin, which was borne on an open hearse drawn by four horses, was of polished oak with brass fittings, and had the following inscription:- "In loving memory of Alexander Stewart Brown, died 17th October, 1900. At rest."
The deceased's favourite trap followed.
Upon the hearse were a number of beautiful wreaths sent by deceased's mother, and 50 other relations and friends.
The chief mourners were Mr. Ashton Lever (brother-in-law of deceased), Mr. Basilio, Mr. J. Ernest Lane, F.R.C.S., Sir T. W. Williams, Mr. J. Sodson, Dr. Smith. Dr. Leyden, and Dr. Toogood.
The cortége proceeded direct from the residence to the cemetery, where had assembled a large number of deceased's colleagues in local and public works, representing the Lewisham Vestry, Board of Works Union, Guardians, and the local Conservative Association.
Many of these gentlemen, with others who were present, also represented Freemasonry, in which the deceased held a distinguished position.
Among those present in the chapel and around the grave were Mr. J. Penn, M.P., Major West, Rev. S. Luffman, and one hundred and thirty more.
The service was read by the Rev. W. Russell, P.G., Chaplain of the local Mark Master Masons Lodge, and Vicar of All Saints, who gave an address based on the words, "Greater love than this hath no man that he lay down his life for his friend."
Referring to the noble act which deceased had performed in saving the life of a gentleman at Boulogne, the Rev Chaplain said their departed friend was not a preacher of the Gospel, but he did something far better than that, he acted the Gospel. He acted the Gospel in the truest sense when, by saving the life of a fellow man, he risked and eventually sacrificed his own.
Innumerable were the acts and many the services of comfort he bestowed on others.
The best of all lives was made up of deeds which sunk in the hearts and lived in the memories of those with whom he came in contact day by day.
They were met that day to commit to the earth the mortal remains of one who was known to them, and reverenced and esteemed by them. They were committing their friend to the earth in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead, when God in his infinite mercy and love would take into account every act and word and deed.
A medical man ran all kinds of risks and dangers, but he thought not of his own life, his great idea being to save the life entrusted to his skill and care. It was a splendid and gratifying thing to find a man who was ready to give his life for another, and so they would not altogether mourn their friend who had whilst still young entered into his rest.
The act of self sacrifice, by which their brother met his death should be an incentive to them all to leave no stone unturned to sacrifice themselves that they might approve themselves in the sight of the great Architect of the Universe, and that they might approve themselves that they might be commended in these words, "Greater love hath no man than this that be lay down his life for his friend?"
When their brother saw the life of a fellow man in danger his thought was not for himself, but that he must do all he could to save the life which was in peril.
Might God bless his soul, and might the great Architect of the Universe give him perfect rest and peace, and might his life be an example to them, that when they came to balance accounts with the great Architect of the Universe they might be found worthy of everlasting life.
When the committal prayers had been said at the grave side, sprays of acacia, were dropped upon the coffin by the Masonic brethren present, after which the large gathering of mourners dispersed."