The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Ballam, Edward Harris (1848 – 1905)

Grave Number 657

Edward Harris Ballam was a military man, born in 1848 in Burnley, Lancashire to Elizabeth Wilkinson, age 20, and John Ballam, age 30, an Irishman.  A sister, Eliza Ann was born in 1853 in Fermoy, Cork, a brother, John James in 1857 in Leeds and a sister Susannah who was only 5 months old in 1861, their father then being described as a Chelsea Pensioner and Volunteer Drill Sergeant.  In 1877 Edward married Sarah Street at Portland, Dorset. In 1881 they were living in barracks where he was employed as a Company Sergeant and by 1891 they had moved to Little Gaddesden, where Edward is described as ‘soldier Serj. Major’. Joseph Herbert, was visiting with his two daughters Kate age 11 and Alice age 3 –the Ballams in fact adopted Kate, and she is living with Edward and Sarah in 1901 in Upper Kings Road. By that time, Edward himself is an Army Pensioner and Secretary to the Water Co.

His funeral, as detailed below, was remarkably elaborate, and demonstrates how relatively quickly Edward had become a recognised and respected figure in the Berkhamsted community.


The late Captain and Quartermaster, E.H. Ballam, whose death, after a connection with the local Volunteer force of over a quarter of a century, took place at the Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, the obsequies being marked by an impressiveness unusual in the locality, principally owing to the military honours accorded to the remains of the deceased officer.

In addition to the short notice we gave last week of Captain Ballam’s career, it may be stated that his connection with the local Volunteer Force began as a band boy, his father being Sergeant-Instructor for many years in the Ashridge, or “C” Company, which was one of the first corps enrolled on the formation of the force. A singular coincidence in this connection was mentioned by some of the veteran Volunteers attending Tuesday’s sad ceremony, it being remarked that that day was the 46th anniversary of the establishment of the force. It is stated that Captain Ballam was in his time one of the best bandsman the corps ever had. It is undoubtedly a fact that he retained to the last his interest in the Battalion band, and was, until very recently, a regular visitor at their practices. In 1866, as a lad of 18, he joined the East Surrey Regiment, and served in various parts of the Empire. He left the Regulars in 1881 to take up the duties of Sergeant-Major of the 2nd V.B. Battalion Beds Regiment in succession to his father, a position in which he was able to do a great deal of useful work for the Volunteer movement, and in fostering its progress in the locality. A more efficient and hard-working officer it would be difficult to find, and when he at last retired, after several years’ extension of time, it was with deep regret on the part of all concerned. All were gratified when shortly afterwards he renewed his connection with the force on appointment as Quartermaster and Hon. Captain. His interest in and connection with the Volunteers has thus been maintained up to his death, and he was at that time carrying out the duties of Acting Adjutant to the Battalion. In that capacity he had served for the previous five months since the resignation of Capt. A.M. Whitaker, and had carried through most of the arrangements and been largely responsible for the successful brigade camp held at Ashridge last August. In addition to his other public duties, as secretary to the Berkhamsted Water Works, as the leading member and acting manager for the B.D.C, and as the officer in the local lodge of Freemasons, he was for some years a useful member of the council of the Berkhamsted Mechanics Institute.

The scene in Berkhamsted on Tuesday afternoon was one which will not be easily forgotten. Some thousands of people lined the streets, while shutters were up and blinds drawn at every house and place of business on the road to the church and cemetery. The desire to show regard to the deceased officer’s memory had in most minds as great an influence as the unusual spectacle of a military funeral. The crowd in the streets were most orderly, and every part of the arrangements went off without a hitch.

Contingents of Volunteers were present from all the companies in the Battalion, the Berkhamsted and Ashridge Companies being almost at full strength. They all met at the Castle Grounds, and marched, headed by the Battalion Band, under Bandmaster J. Hager, and a cyclist section bringing up the rear, past the railway station to Captain Ballam’s residence, “Verdala”, Kings-road. The full strength of the force was about 300, the school cadets providing a good proportion of that number. Captain J. Parsons was in command, with Lieutenants F.G. Fox and E.C. Foster as subalterns. The gun carriage, which had been made at Gaddesden, was in the form of a converted machine gun carriage, and was in charge of Sergeant-Instructor Herbert and a section of men from the Battalion. The band had their drums draped. From the house the procession marched to the Parish Church, the family mourners following immediately after the coffin, which was covered with a Union Jack. It was surmounted by the deceased officer’s sword and helmet, together with a lovely wreath. The pall bearers were Captain E.J. Dwight (“E” Company), A.G. Welsford (“D” Company, and Acting Adjutant in succession to Captain Ballam), E. Montague Jones (St. Albans School cadets) and J.G. Weall (Watford). The bearers were Colour-Sergeant Harding and Sergeant Holliman (Berkhamsted), Colour-Sergeant Downer and Sergeant Downer (Watford), Colour-Sergeant Randall (Tring), Colour-Sergeant Webb and Sergeant Kirby (Hemel Hempstead) and Sergeants Beall, White, and James (Watford).

The service in the church was conducted by the Rev. H. Constable Curtis (rector)  and the Rev. Lawrence Gee (Hemel Hempstead, acting chaplain to the Battalion). The hymn, “Peace, perfect, peace,” was sung, and as the funeral cortege was again formed the solemn strains of the “Dead March” in Saul began to sound through the church, played by Mr. W.H. Leadon, A.R.C.O., at the organ. As the procession passed from the church and along the High-Street towards the cemetery the band commenced to play the same music, the impressiveness of the scene, as the mournful procession passed along the street, with the solemn music played in perfect tone and time, with the muffled beating of the drum, were very suggestive. The Volunteers formed a guard of honour up the hill leading to the cemetery, standing with inverted rifles as the mourners passed between the lines.

The grave is situated just inside the new part of the cemetery, where a large concourse of people had assembled. A firing part of 100 Volunteers, drawn from the Berkhamsted and Ashridge Companies, under the command of Captain Parsons, formed up in a large double rank on the slope at the foot of the grave, and the committal service was soon completed. The “Nunc Dimittis” was sweetly sung by the surplice choir, and the Volunteers then prepared to pay their last tributes of respect to their deceased comrade in due military fashion. A few sharp words of command from Captain Parsons, and a volley rung through the air, followed by the bugle notes from the Ashridge Bugle Band. Twice more was it repeated, and then the “Last Post” was sounded over the grave before mourners and Volunteers took a farewell look at their dead friend’s last resting place. The coffin, a plain oak shell, with brass fittings, bore on the name plate the inscription :-

Edward Harris Ballam

Died October 5th 1905,

Aged 57 years

The bands and Volunteers then marched away down into the town again, the former appropriately playing “For Auld Lang Syne” and the regimental “March Past.” The Freemasons also followed their usual custom of dropping a sprig of acacia into the grave.

The immediate family mourners and friends were: Mrs Balham (widow) and Miss Herbert (who has from childhood lived with Captain and Mrs. Balham as their adopted daughter): Mr Merv. Balham (brother and Mrs Ballam); Mrs. Andrews and Miss Ballam (sisters); Mr. W. Ballam (brother) and Mrs Ballam; Mrs Timbury (sister-in-law); Mr Edmonds, Mrs hayward; Major McDermott and Sergeant-Major Pope (of the East Surrey Regiment); Mr rowe (late Sergeant-Major of the East Surreys); Mr Foss and Mr Herbert (also late of the same regiment); and Mr. H. Killen (late Sergeant-Instructor to the Hemel Hempstead Company). Among those who were also present either in church or at the cemetery were the Rev. G.T. bent (curate), the Rev. H.M. Rowdon (Long Marston), the Rev. W. and Mrs Jones Price, Earl Brownlow (whose tall figure in its attractive Brigadier-General’s uniform towered head and shoulders above all others in the procession), the Countess Brownlow, Colonel H.J. Foster, Surgeon-Captain R.L. Batterbury, Surbeon-Captain J.B. McBride, Captain A.C. Wilson (in uniform), Sergeant- Major J. Turner, Messrs. F.Q. Lane, G. loader, R.A. Cooper, J. king, C.J. Gilbert, W. Wilson, J. Bunker, J. King, T. Penny, R. Gregory, H.W. Rainer, L.E. Thomas, J.R. Hatherly, W.J Pickin, W. Cheeld, E.J Pearson, G. Chilton, W. Dwight, A. Slater, W.J. Orchard, A. Prudames, W.G. Howard, J. Timson, T. Price, G. Loosley, G.W. Loosely, J. Garner, E. plat, D. Osborn, W. Saville, W.C. Harragin, A.L. Brown, P.H. De Fraine, and J. Reynolds.

The wreaths included some lovely specimens of floral art. Lillies were sent by Mrs. Ballam and the Rev. G.H. Siddans, and inscriptions on the other wreaths were as follows:- “In affectionate remembrance of Uncle Ted, from Mr and Mrs Herbert and family”; “In deepest sorrow, from Will and Rose and little Norah”; “A small token in memory of a dearly-loved godfather, Eugenie”; “With fondest remembrance, J. Timbury” “From Countess Bownlow, with deep sympathy”; “From the officers of 2nd (Herts) V.B. Beds Regiment, in affectionate remembrance of a true soldier and faithful comrade”; “In remembrance from an old friend and comrade, Major S.R. Timson”; “In affectionate remembrance from Major R.M Foot”; “From Major S.W. Jenney”; “With deep sympathy, from the officers of D Company”; “With deepest sympathy and regret, from the Sergeant-Major, Staff-Sergeants, and Sergeants of the 2nd (Herts) V.B. Beds Regiment”; “With sincere sympathy, Surgeon-Captain H.A Rudyard”; “With Sergeant-Major and Mrs turner’s deepest sympathy”; “From Berkhamsted School, in affectionate memory of a highly-esteemed and faithful instructor to the School Cadet Corps”; “From the Battalion Band, 2nd V.B Beds Regiment, in affectionate remembrance of a true friend”; “From the N.C. officers, ‘E’ Company, in affectionate memory of a true friend”; “From the N.C. Officers and men of ‘B’ Company, St Albans; “With sincere sympathy, Dr. and Mrs. McBride”; “In affectionate remembrance, from Mr. Dick Cooper” “A token of respect, from Captain and Mrs. A. Whitaker”; “From the Berkhamsted Lodge of Freemasons, a token of fraternal affection and highest esteem”; “With deepest sympathy, from Messrs. G. Chilton, F. Dwight, Colonel Foster, C.C. Chilton, R. Gregory, rev Dr. Bartram, A.F. Phillips, and W.G. Howard, the directors and staff of the Great Berkhamsted Water Works Company”’; “From the president and members of the B.D.C in memory of their most distinguished and deeply-regretted member”; “From the lady members of the B.D.C. with deepest sympathy”; “A token of esteem and regret, from the Council and members of the Berkhamstead Mechanics  Institute”’ “With much sympathy, from Mr. and Mrs. W Armatrading Frith, in ever loving memory”; “With deepest sympathy, from Mrs Howard, Lill, Frank and May, ‘To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die’”; “With deep sympathy, from Mrs Chas. Fry, Bedford” “In affectionate remembrance, Mr and Mrs Hartley”; “With sincerest sympathy, from an old friend, Jane Hayward”; “With deepest sympathy from Rose Cookham”; From Mrs. A. Harding”; “With sincerest sympathy from Mr. and Mrs. G. loosely and family”; “With loving sympathy, from Mr. and Mrs Jas. Wood and family”; With deepest regret, from Mr. and Mrs. C. Edmonds, Hornsey”; “With deep regret from Mrs. William H. Bell and ruthie”; in ever affectionate remembrance of a very dear old friend, and with much sympathy, from Mr. and Mrs Foster and family”, and “With sincere sympathy, from Joseph Green, Shepherds bush.”

Messrs H. and J. Matthews of Berkhamsted carried out the duties of undertakers, and Superintendent Frogley and Inspector Domoney had charge of the police arrangements.

Watford Observer

Also reported in Bucks Herald 4th November 1905 ‘A large number of magnificent wreaths were placed on the grave’

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