The last Duellist

This plaque is on a grave in the south-west corner of the churchyard of St Laurence, Stroud.

the REMAINS of
Joseph Francis Delmont
of His Majesty's 82nd Regt
Born 25th November 1785
18th August 1807

In his book Notes and Recollections of Stroud, (1871) Paul Hawkins Fisher points out that it merely records that "once in the flight of ages past there lived a man".

And yet visitors to Stroud have been known to seek out this uninformative memorial. Why?

One day in 1807, our Lt. Delmont made a remark to Capt. Heazle which gave offence. Fisher is not able to shed light on what was said. Delmont refused to apologise and from that point on little went right for him. It was agreed to settle the matter in a duel.

Finding a couple of pistols at short notice in Stroud proved difficult, and poor Delmont ended up with a rusty one. Later it was discovered that it could only be fired with difficulty. At the duel itself our unfortunate Delmont was still preparing to shoot when Heazle fired his pistol, seriously wounding Delmont. With hindsight, it might have been better for Delmont if he had been killed on the spot. The nurse tending his wounds had some "lotion" for bathing the wounds but gave it to him to drink instead. He lasted only a few more hours. Meanwhile Heazle managed to flee the scene and escaped to the West Indies. Perhaps the yellow fever that was then rife there caused his death a few years later. So, this unremarkable plaque is on the grave of the victim of one of the last recorded duels in England. There are records of other duels in 1845 and 1852.