Appeal to fund new headstone for police officer

Sgt John Hately's gravestone.
Sgt John Hately's gravestone.

An appeal has been launched for a new headstone to a police officer who died in a riot in Alnwick more than 140 years ago.

The Police Roll of Honour Trust wants to raise money for a replacement headstone for Sergeant John Hately, from Northumberland County Constabulary, who died during a riot in Alnwick on March 6, 1875.

The original headstone was funded by subscriptions from his colleagues and civic leaders, but it is badly eroded by the weather.

A retired police officer contacted the charity for help and now a £3,000 appeal has been launched to pay for a new one.

Sid MacKay, chairman of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said: “As a charity, we were very keen to provide the appropriate funding to replace the headstone of Sgt Hately.

“A retired Northumbria Police officer contacted us with a view to getting help with a replacement headstone which we were willing to do given the circumstances. The original headstone has been completely eroded by the weather and is entirely unreadable.

“The Police Roll of Honour Trust is completely reliant on public donations, and we would be very grateful to anyone who is able to provide a donation towards the restoration or replacement of memorials or gravestones dedicated to officers who died whilst on duty.”

Sgt Hately died following a riot at the Alnwick March hirings, a time for farmers to hire workers for the next 12 months.

The Alnwick Mercury reported that a drunken brawl broke out at the Angel Inn.

Constables trying to take a man from the inn to the police station found themselves confronted with a 2,000-strong crowd, most of whom were drunk.

Sgt Hately and other officers went to help but he was surrounded by the mob and fell to the ground. The constables carried him to the police station where he was declared dead.

A post mortem revealed that he had died of a heart attack.

He left a widow and eight young children.

Donations for the headstone can be made via the Police Roll of Honour’s JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/policerollofhonour/Donate