Thomas Thetcher (1737? – 1764), also known simply as The Hampshire Grenadier, was a grenadier in the North Regiment of the Hants Militia. He is known to the present day only through his gravestone, which stands in the graveyard of Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, England.
The North Hants Militia was a militia regiment in Hampshire, England which existed nominally from 1757 to 1853, as part of the reorganization of the standing armies of the United Kingdom brought in by the Militia Act of 1757. The regiment was not continuously embodied, being mustered only in times of need.
Winchester Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of England in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral.
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England. The county town is the city of Winchester. Its two largest cities, Southampton and Portsmouth, are administered separately as unitary authorities; the rest of the county is governed by Hampshire County Council.
His grave site was designated as a Hampshire Treasure by the Hampshire County Council.
Hampshire County Council (HCC) is the county council that governs the majority of the county of Hampshire in England. It provides the upper tier of local government, below which are district councils, and town and parish councils. The county council has 78 elected councillors, and is based in the county town of Winchester.
In Memory of
a Grenadier in the North Reg. of Hants Militia, who died of
a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small Beer when hot the 12 May 1764. Aged 26 Years.
In grateful remembrance of whose universal good will towards his Comrades, this Stone is placed here at their expence, as a small testimony of their regard and concern.Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye're hot drink Strong or none at all.
This memorial being decay'd was restor'd by the Officers of the Garrison A.D. 1781.An Honest Soldier never is forgot
Whether he die by Musket or by Pot.
The Stone was replaced by the North Hants Militia when disembodied at Winchester, on 26 April 1802, in consequence of the original Stone being destroyed.
And again replaced by The Royal Hampshire Regiment 1966.
The gravestone has been vandalised with the text "NO LIMITS WAS HERE" written on the top of the stone.
Grenadier Thetcher's gravestone has been quoted and misquoted extensively in the centuries since his death.
We landed in England. I visited Winchester Cathedral. Much moved, I wandered outside. My attention was caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone: 'Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier / Who caught his death / Drinking cold small beer. / A good soldier is ne'er forgot / Whether he dieth by musket / Or by pot.'"
I copied it from an inscription on a tombstone in the churchyard of Winchester Cathedral, and a military friend then quartered there informed me that a statement once appeared in Fraser's Magazine to the effect that the quatrain commencing "Here sleeps in peace", was written by Dr. Benjamin Hoadley, sometime Bishop of Winchester. Now, as Bishop Hoadley died 17 April 1761, it is plain that he could not have written an epitaph on a person who survived him more than three years.
I have divided the lines exactly as they appear on the tombstone, and beg to direct your attention to the ambiguity of "when hot", which might apply to the "beer" or to its victim; also to the disembodiment of the North Hants Militia in April, 1802, being assignable (owing to the "obscure language")[sic] to the destruction of "the original stone", and not to the peace of Amiens, which was ratified in March, 1802. The inference drawn by the poet that the grenadier was killed by the smallness of the beer, and not by its want of caloric, is, as original as it is, doubtless correct.
Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country was a general and literary journal published in London from 1830 to 1882, which initially took a strong Tory line in politics. It was founded by Hugh Fraser and William Maginn in 1830 and loosely directed by Maginn under the name Oliver Yorke until about 1840. It circulated until 1882, when it was renamed Longman's Magazine.
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The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814.
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