The Dark Side of Victorian London: John Atcheler

London's Highgate Cemetery is known for being the resting place for many famous people, but it also has some infamous names, one being John Atcheler. Have you ever heard of him before? I can't say I had before this trip!

John was born in the village of Hockliffe in 1791. During his first job he was employed as a Professional Fighter, one that I believe his peers at the time wish he'd kept. 

Before I get into what John Atcheler did for a living, I'm going to go through his family tree a little bit. This is because, many believe that the following grave is for the resting place of himself, but it isn't.

John Atcheler's Family Tree

Firstly, John was the son of John and Mary At the age of just 19, in 1811, John married his first wife by the name of Mary Ann Hewson. It is unknown what happened to Mary, but 27 years later, John went on to marry Margaret. John and Margaret's marriage lasted 22 years.

His third marriage was to Sarah Mansfield, who's remains are located within the grave below. Sarah is buried with their son, John, who died in 1853 at the age of 27. Also buried here are the remains of John's stepson, Henry, who passed away in 1857. Sarah passed in 1859, the same year John married his 4th wife, Victoria Chancellor.

If you would like to see a full scale picture of this grave, please visit my Instagram where I share more about the lives of people buried at Highgate, and the rest of the world!

The Dark Side of John Atcheler

It is no secret that this grave here commemorates a very infamous name of Victorian Britain. When John retired in his career as a Professional Fighter, he sought out a new and very different career; a Horse Slaughterer. 

John soon started his training, and within a few weeks, the Atcheler name was soon to be banished from any conversation from locals in the area. He was like the Victorian Voldemort, if you think of it. Soon after graduating from his Slaughter School, John decided to pick up and move his office nearer to the Cattle Market at Kings Cross. It was here that people started to notice John's claims, and specifically his plaque above his office door, reading 'Horse Slaughterer for Her Majesty Queen Victoria'.

... but was he really?

Fortunately for John, making false claims to Royal Warrants would only be made illegal in 1883, this was 16 years after his death. However, there are no official claims of this status and many people in those days did not believe him at all. Although, in his will, this statement was accepted. 

The Horse Monument

Sadly, the resting place of Sarah, John (jr), and Henry has become the victim of hate crime over the years. The horses legs have had to be repaired. This is quite sad since John himself isn't actually buried here. He is, however, buried within this cemetery, and on this side (the west). Unfortunately since I only had an hour in the cemetery, I wasn't able to plan very well, but I'm going to save his actual grave for another day and update this page!

This Grade II listed monument is also very weathered. I found it impossible to read, but the power of the internet has provided me with the original listing. Thank you Pet Histories!

“She’s gone; whose nerve could rein the swiftest steed,
whose heart and hand to all in time of need
we’re ready, and with a cheering hope she gave
to soothe the suffering and weak to save”




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