The monument, known locally as the Monument to the “Inglês Morto” (Dead Englishman) is dedicated by his fellow officers to Captain Conway Shipley, Royal Navy, who was killed by the French at Belém on 23 April 1808. It is located beside the Tagus River at Paço de Arcos, in the municipality of Oeiras, just outside Lisbon.
A friend who recently moved into the area was concerned about the condition of the monument and that the tribute to a brave young Royal Naval Officer was barely legible. So he contacted my husband, Selwyn Kennard, a retired Royal Navy Officer living locally. I had also served in the Royal Navy as a member of the WRNS and decided to research Captain Shipley’s career and the circumstances that led to the death of this young officer. On inspection it was clear that the monument had been so badly neglected due to time, weather and its proximity to the sea that some action needed to be taken to restore it in order to preserve it as a testament to the Royal Navy’s involvement in the Peninsula Wars.
The monument was moved in 1940 because the original location, in a fort on the edge of the Tagus River, was crumbling into the sea. It is unclear whether Conway Shipley’s body was moved with the monument or even if the body was originally under the memorial.
More details of his career and the cutting out expedition which lead to his death can be found at this link:
Further research into his descendants provided a contact with Lord Langford, Hon Owain Grenville Rowley Conwy, who was aware of the monument, had visited it several years ago and is very supportive of the effort to get the monument restored. Their hereditary home is Bodrhyddan Hall: http://www.bodrhyddan.co.uk/.
At Bodrhyddan Hall there is a painting by his First Lieutenant of his famous engagement, “HMS HIPPOMENES” pursues L’Egyptienne”. It was because of this engagement that he was awarded a Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund Sword, rewarding those who distinguished themselves with “successful exertions of value or merit”, which was presented to him in 1805. This Sword, which was attached to Conway Shipley’s wrist when his body washed up on the shore, is still in the family’s possession at Bodrhyddan Hall.
Marcus de la Poer Beresford (the 7th Baron Decies), is a student of the Peninsular Wars and a descendant of Lord Beresford, Commander of the Portuguese Army during the Peninsular campaign, has also been extremely helpful. He was unaware of the monument, but mentioned two volumes of ‘Memorials from the Peninsular’ produced by David & Janet Bromley and provided a copy of page 485 of volume 2. On this page there is a place index which lists 18 memorials in Portugal, including 8 in Lisbon, but the Conway Shipley Memorial is not listed. David & Janet Bromley are retired librarians and Honorary Archivists of The Waterloo Association who have devoted many years of their retirement to researching and recording memorials and graves to soldiers who fought in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo between1808 and 1815. He commented that the memorial is not recorded in either of the 2 volumes, which indicates that the memorial was largely forgotten.
Coincidently, there is also a connection between the Beresford and Owain Rowley-Conwy families, as they were both originally from County Meath, Ireland and one of the daughters, Anne, married Tristram Beresford, ancestor to the family of Tyrone, in the 17th century. Members of the family who also served in the campaign included William B.H Rowley with the 4th and 2nd dragoons, George Shipley in the 97th Foot and Robert Shipley in the Royal Engineers!
The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has also been extremely helpful in providing details of the career of Conway Shipley.
A visit to the British Historical Society (BHS) library to look for information on Conway Shipley revealed several articles referring to him:
By Jackie Kennard.