Benjamin's headstone in St Giles church graveyard. Photographs by Hampton Gay Story Oxfordshire Copyright 2010

Benjamin Taylor

We decided to dedicate a page to Benjamin Taylor who was killed in the Shipton on Cherwell Train crash on Christmas Eve 1874. Benjamin was making his way home to spend Christmas with his family.

We are so intrigued by his story; why was he buried at St Giles Church in Hampton Gay along with another work colleague William Cavannagh?  Why weren't they taken home for burials?


Click here for information on William Cavannagh

Benjamin Taylor was 19 years old and lived in Tettenhall Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. His parents were called William and Elizabeth. He was employed by a Henry Lovatt as a gas fitter.

Henry Lovatt was born in Wolverhampton on January 19th 1831. He was a very big contractor in the area, employing a lot of people to work on his projects throughout the country which included churches, railways and government buildings. 23 of Henry Lovatt's employees were on the train the night of the crash.

Benjamin was badly injured in the train accident; he was taken by train to Oxford train station but died.on the way.

When the authorities were still trying to identify the bodies, his was described as: “ …a man, between 20 and 30 years of age, short and thin, no beard or whiskers, having on him two old pilot jackets, white slop (dirty) cord trousers, nailed boots, and a quantity of gas burners in his possession, apparently just left off work, has not yet been identified.  He had also a pocket-knife, latch-key, and several copper coins, viz, one French, four old pennies, and 21/2d in bronze, with a pocket book.


Was he taken to the Old Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford?  Some of the newspapers of the day reported that his body was missing for a few days, and some claim that his body was at Oxford station. Another report said that George Day, a foreman for Mr Lovatt identified the body and that Benjamin was working in the Westbury area. One article states that Henry Lovatt would do all he could to give Benjamin and his other work colleagues, who were also killed, a proper burial.


A report from the Berrow Worcester Journal on Sat the 2nd of January 1875:

Benjamin Taylor and William Cavannagh bodies were removed from the roughly made shells into neat elm coffins, which were forwarded to Kirtlington from Wolverhampton. They were possibly buried together in one grave in front of the church over looking the railway line.


Benjamin Taylor and William Cavannagh were buried in St Giles Church yard on Tuesday the 29 December 1874. Rev Henry William Yule took the service. Benjamin’s grave stone was added later.

So why was Benjamin buried in Hampton Gay churchyard and not taken home?


1861 Census shows Benjamin age 5, living with Francis and Martha Ecclestone, his Uncle and Aunt along with his parents William and Elizabeth.



We are still researching so hopefully we can uncover further information on Benjamin. This site is constantly being updated so please come back and take another look soon.

This site was written and created by Sally Bridgman and Jon Smart. If you would like to reproduce any of the information, please contact us. Copyright © 2010

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