William Drake (1811 - 1869), aged 57, according to his memorial plaque, "Lost His Life In Averting A Serious Accident To A Lady In Hyde Park, April 2nd 1869."
The plaque continues, "Whose Horses Were Unamanageable Through The Breaking Of The Carriage Pole."
What the plaque doesn't state is that the lady in question was Thérese Johanne Alexandra Tietjens (1831 - 1877), a leading Victorian opera and oratorio soprano, whom many opera historians consider to have been the finest dramatic soprano of the second half of the 19th century.
On Sunday 4th April, 1869, Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper carried a brief report of the accident, which, at that point, had not proved fatal:-
"Yesterday morning a shocking accident happened to William Drake, who lived in Elizabeth-place, Battersea.
While endeavouring to stop some carriage horses that had taken fright in Hyde-park, he was knocked down and nearly crushed to death,
He now lies in St. George's hospital in a dangerous state."
It appears that, in endeavouring to bring the frightened horses under control, William Drake received a kick on the leg which, over the next few days, became infected, which led to pyoemia [a severe form of blood poisoning] setting in, and, on the 8th of April 1869, he died.
An inquest into his death was held at St George's Hospital on the 9th of April 1869.
A full report, together with details of what had occurred on the day of the accident, appeared in The Cardiff and Monmouth Gazette in its edition of the 17th of April, 1869:-
"Mr. St. Clare Bedford held a lengthened inquiry, on tin 9th inst., at St. Georges Hospital, on the body of William Drake, who was killed in endeavouring to stop the horses attached to the carriage of Mdlle. Tietjens, in Hyde Park, on the afternoon of the 2nd inst.
It appeared that as the brougham of the distinguished cantatriee was entering Hyde Park, by the south gateway of Stanhope-gate, another carriage (a waggonette) crossed in front, causing the driver of the brougham to pull up so suddenly that the pole broke, whereby all control over the heroes was lost, and they became unmanageable.
The deceased ran forward with Police-constable Wright, 294 A, but in trying to stop the off-side horse he was knocked down, and received a severe kick on the right knee, which, according to the evidence of Mr. George Bishopp, the house surgeon, resulted in pyoemia, which caused death.
Mr. Francis Tagart [of] 31, Craven-hill-gardens, Hyde Park, who saw the occurrence, deposed to the heroic ends of the poor man to stop the horses, and had he not succeeded in doing so the consequences must have been most serious to the two ladies who were in the brougham, Mdlle. Tietjens being one of them.
A verdict of Accidental Death was returneded, and a gentleman in the inquest-room said that those dependent on the deceased would be amply cared for by Mdlle. Tietjens, who was in the waiting-room at the hospital, but did not give evidence."
William Drake was laid to rest in a common grave in Brompton Cemetery on the 13th of April 1869.
He left a wife Mary, who survived him by six years.
Thérese Johanne Alexandra Tietjens, one the women whose life he had saved, died of cancer on the 3rd of October 1877 and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.