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The memorial plaque to Herbert Peter Cazaly.


The memorial to Herbert Cazaly (1859 - 1889) in Postman's Park reads, Herbert Peter Cazaly, Stationer's Clerk, Who Was Drowned At Kew In Endeavouring To Save A Man From Drowning. April 21 1889.' "


Monday April 22nd 1889 had been the last day of a bank holiday weekend, and, as was the norm, many people had headed out onto the Thames, and other rivers, over the course of the weekend, in order to enjoy a little messing around on the water.

Sadly, several of these river trippers never returned and, one thing that is notable when studying the pages of the Victorian newspapers, is how many of them carried reports on "Fatal Boating Accidents" in their editions on the day's that proceeded a bank holiday.

Tuesday 23rd April 1889 was no exception to this tragic rule and, in its edition of that day The Evening Standard carried the following brief report:-


"A Correspondent telegraphing last night from Kew, say:- "A serious boat accident has happened. Two lives have been lost opposite Kew Gardens. Only one body has been recovered."


There was, initially, confusion in the press about the identity of at least one of the victims of the tragedy, and some uncertainty as to how they had been related.

On Wednesday 24th April 1889, the Western News demonstrated this confusion:-

"There were several accidents on the Thames on Bank Holiday, one of a very serious nature.

A holiday party of four chartered two boats at Richmond, and proceeded down the river towards Kew.

When opposite Brentford Ferry one of the boats capsized, and the occupants were thrown into the water.

With much difficulty one of the men succeeded in reaching the shore; the other, Herbert Geraty, 27, was drowned, as was also his brother, Joseph Geraty, 25, who jumped out of the boat to his rescue."


However, by Thursday 25th April 1889, the mistakes that had initially circulated were being corrected and The Evening Standard published the latest known details on the tragedy:-

"From later information it appears that the two men drowned in the recent boating accident opposite Brentford Ferry were no brothers.

The name of one of the deceased was Herbert Cazaly, who was in a boat with two friends when he witnessed the accident to the deceased Geraty.

Seeing the latter in the water, Cazaly at once plunged in to the rescue, but in consequence of the manner in which he as grasped by Geraty, was drawn under, and both were drowned."


The inquest into the deaths of Herbert Peter Cazaly and Joseph Geraty was held at the King's Arms Hotel, Kew Green, on Thursday 25th April 1889.

In its next day's edition The Evening Standard provided its readers with a full and detailed report on the proceedings:-


"At the King's Arms Hotel, Kew-green, yesterday, Mr. Braxton Hicks, Coroner for Mid-Surrey, held an inquest on the bodies of Herbert Peter Cazaly and Joseph Geraty, two young men who were drowned by the upsetting of a small pleasure boat on the River Thames, off Kew Gardens, on Bank Holiday.

James Cazaly, engaged at the Empire Theatre, and residing in Hutton-street, Whitefriars, identified one of the bodies as that of his brother, Herbert Peter Cazaly, aged 30. He was a clerk in a firm of stationers at Hatton-garden, and resided with Witness. He was a very good swimmer and diver, and accustomed to boating.

Thomas Geraty, printer, Dublin, identified the other body as that of his brother, Joseph, who, he said, was 24 years of age, and was a painter, residing in Romney-street, Westminster.

Police-constable William Warman, 156 T, stationed at Brentford, deposed that he recovered the body of Cazaly on the morning of Tuesday, about 20 yards below Brentford Ferry, on the Surrey shore.

Sydney John Bridgeman, landlord of the Grapes beer-house, adjoining Brentford Ferry, stated that on Monday last, about a quarter to seven, as he was ferrying and leaving the Brentford side for Kew, he saw four men in the water about 600 yards off.

It was getting towards high water time.

He went to their assistance, and caught hold of two men, one by each hand, and pulled them into his boat.

He afterwards tried to reach the others at the stern of the boat, but was unable to do so.

The other two men were holding on to each other, and ultimately sank.

The men who he succeeded in saving were Jefferies and Moore.

The boat which had overturned was of "cockle-shell" construction, and he should not have cared to have gone out in it himself.

Charles Spittles, an evangelist, of Ashmore-road, St. Peter's-park, said that on Easter Monday he was at Kew Gardens.

About 6.45 p.m. he saw the police boat going up the river, and two other smaller boats going in the same direction. There was plenty of space between them. He saw two men in one of the small boats, which was swaying, either from a difficulty in rowing, or the restlessness of the men,

The boat suddenly turned upside down. The two men who had occupied the boat were struggling in the water for several minutes, and the Witness shouted for the police boat to return.

Francis Moore, printer, of Drury-lane, W.C. said that the deceased Geraty was a friend of his.

They went together on Easter Monday on the river. They hired the boat at Kew-green at 6.45p,m., for an hours row. Witness understood a little about boating, but did not think his companion had any knowledge of it.

They were sober when they started. They had three half-pints of beer during the day. They went up the river on the tide. Witness did not notice that the boar rocked at all. Geraty was rowing and Witness was steering the boat, which was very small and light; the least thing would overturn it. They were not asked if they could row when they hired the boat.

Geraty got on fairly well with his rowing. They were going slowly, just drifting, when the police bat passed them by Kew Gardens.

The occupants of a boat, two gentlemen and two ladies, in passing them swiftly tossed their oars right up, and Geraty did the same with his oar to avoid collision, when their boat capsized and they were both thrown into the water. Witness could swim a little. He could not say whether Geraty could swim.

Witness clung to the overturned boat until he was rescued, with Mr. Jefferies, by the ferryman.

Geraty was still in the water, and Witness saw Mr Cazaly take of his coat and vest and jump in after his friend from his boat.

He saw them catching hold of each other.

Jefferies then jumped in after both men.

Witness saw no more, as he lost his senses.

They hired the boat from a man named Pierce.

Henry Jefferies, fine art dealer, of Tudor-street, Whitefriars, said he went out with Cazaly on Bank Holiday.

They went on the river with another friend, hiring a boat at Putney at 4.45. Witness and Cazaly could swim, and were well up in boating.

They got up to Kew about 6.45, and saw a boat containing Moore and Geraty upset in front of them.

Cazaly jumped in to the assistance of the men, and Witness tried to get their boat up nearer to him. Being unable to do so, he also took off his coat and waistcoat and jumped in to the rescue of the other men.

He swam towards a scull, seized it, and threw it towards his friend, when he became entangled in a coat which was floating on the water.

A boat came towards him, and he put his hand up to save his head.

he was immediately afterwards pulled out of the water by Mr. Bridgeman.

Police-serjeant Winnett, of T Division, stationed at Brentford, said he had charge of the police boat referred to.

He noticed the boat occupied by Moore and his companion about ten minutes to seven. They crossed the river in front of the police boat, apparently through bad steering. Witness in passing them told them they had better be careful and keep on their proper course. He afterwards noticed that they seemed to be pulling very steadily.

Subsequently he heard shouting and saw four men in the water, but he was unable to get up to their assistance in time.

The Coroner, in summing up, referred to the carelessness and indifference of watermen in letting out small boats to persons who possessed no knowledge of rowing, and suggested that the matter should be taken up by the police authorities.

The Jury returned a verdict of "Accidental Death", and commended the gallant action of the ferryman, Bridgeman and of Jefferies. They also endorsed the opinion of the Coroner with regard to the carelessness of watermen in the letting out of boats, particularly at holiday times.

Inspector Rowling, of the T Division, said he would communicate the suggestion to the proper quarter."