*UPDATED* See: Richard Starke – update
While examining the Master List to find errors and lapses, I stopped a moment on a name, Richard Starke. Of course I had already seen it many times but probably my attention was somewhere else. “Starke” reminds me immediately of Mariana Starke, the quite famous travel writer, but I had never thought about a connection before. I started my usual search pattern on the Internet, and I happened to read the wikipedia page on Mariana but I had searched for Richard, so I noticed right away that her father’s name was Richard, but no other detail apart that he spent a long time in India working for the British East India Company…
I browsed the Old English Cemetery images until I found the pictures of the grave and started reading the inscription helped by the transcription on the book:
Sacred to the memory | of | Rich.d Starke Esq.re | An Englishman of the Parish of Epsom, in the County of Surrey | who died at Pisa on y. 5th of March 1794 aged 74 years. | He served the Hon. English East India Company 24 years | with fidelity & honour | & when advanced to the important Station of Governor of Madras | he sacrificed all personal considerations to the dictates of Filial Piety | & quitted India in obedience to a Father | who earnestly solicited his return | As a Husband, & a Parent his conduct was equally exemplary | & | proved him to be in practice what he ever was in principle | a firm & zealous | Christian.”
It really seemed to be him, but strangely I have never heard about this. A rapid search on the IGI gave me exact dates for his children’s baptisms, and the town was matching, then I read that Mariana and her family were in Pisa in the winter of 1794. It was him indeed. I thought I really had made a discovery!
A few moments later I tried to look him up in the Ingamell’s dictionary and found him under his daughter’s entry. Ingamells was aware that he had been buried in Livorno but how is it that the book on the Inscriptions of the cemetery just transcribes his inscription without even a small note about him ? Quite odd.
Another search led me to find a book in italian by Prof. Mario Curreli: “Scrittori inglesi a Pisa”, edited by ETS in 2005. He reports the presence of Mariana and her family in Pisa in that year and also her father’s death in March 1794, followed by his burial in Livorno.
Ok, very good, it’s not really a discovery… but still this seems to be quite unknown to the general public, so I decided to publish my finding here, admitting my childish enthusiasm !
Here’s a very small outline about Richard:
Richard STARKE was born about 1720 and married Mary HUGHES at Banstead, Surrey, on June 30th, 1759. Their children were baptised in Epsom, Surrey between 1760 and 1772. His daughter Mariana was baptised on Saturday October 23rd, 1762. Mariana’s biographers tell us that she grew up in India, where her father served as Governor of the British EIC’s post at Fort St. George in Madras. He worked for the EIC during 24 years and he probably entered first as a writer, some sources indicate around 1735, becoming Deputy Governor in 1750 until 1752. I didn’t find any information at the moment for the period 1752-1792 when all the family came to Italy for a Grand Tour and for the health problems of a close relative (the mother?). He died at Pisa on March 5th, 1794 and was buried on the 9th, no other note exists on the Chapel Register #2. His will is under examination.
Here’s his grave and inscriptions photographed few days ago: