If you’re thinking of seeing the “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” a movie showing in the Quad-Cities, you also might want to visit a Quad-City connection to author Charles Dickens, on whose novel the film is based.
His son, Francis Jeffery Dickens, is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Moline.
According to www.findagrave.com, Francis was the fifth son and third child of Charles and Catherine Dickens, and was named after his godfather, Lord Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Review.
Francis was educated in Boulogne. “He considered studying medicine in France and Germany, but abandoned this with the intention of farming in Canada or Australia,” according to findagrave.com.
Charles Dickens found him a job on the magazine “All The Year Round,” but Francis was “unsuited to office life or to journalism,” findagrave reports.
In January 1864, he traveled to India to join his brother Walter, discovering Walter had died on New Year’s Eve.
Francis joined the Bengal Mounted Police, and returned to England after his father’s death.
“Having squandered his inheritance, he managed to find a position with the North West Mounted Police because his mother’s aunt, Georgina Hogarth, was an acquaintance of Lord Dufferin.” Francis served in Canada from the fall of 1874 until February 1886, “allegedly because of increasing deafness.”
After that, he applied to several jobs but was not hired.
Lord Dufferin had returned to England, so Francis was “unable to benefit from his influence,” even pawning his father’s pocket watch.
In Ottawa, Francis met Dr. A. W. Jamieson, from Moline. The doctor heard Francis had fallen on hard time, and invited him to Moline to give a speech about his famous father.
On the evening he was supposed to speak, Francis died from a heart attack.
On Sept. 24, 2002, an official North West Mounted Police tombstone was unveiled over his grave.
His epitaph says “Take ye heed, watch and pray for ye know not what the time is.”