Wickham Genealogy



Mark Wickham c.1838 - 1897 
Superintendent of the Cork Fire Brigade 1877-1891


 Cork Fire Brigade 1892.  Alfred Hutson (center left with beard), Mark Wickham (presumed) to his left.

In 1877 the Cork Corporation was investigating the establishment of a professional fire brigade.   The Waterworks Commission recommended the salary of 100 a year be paid to a head of a Fire Brigade and that he be selected from the staff of the Dublin Fire Brigade.

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Click image to see Mark Wickham's Repealer Card 

Captain J. Robert Ingram of Dublin proposed Mark Wickham, an inspector on his staff, to head the  Cork Fire Brigade.  Inspector Wickham surveyed the situation in Cork and reported that a Fire Brigade could be set up for a nominal sum.  Wickham's report was adopted by the Corporation on September 28, 1877.  On October 1 the Corporation decided to pay for the Brigade without going to the insurance companies for funds and the Brigade came into existence.

From the start there was a shift in emphasis on the side of the firefighting force in Cork.  Whereas previously the primary object of the Insurance Brigades was the saving of property, Superintendent Wickham indoctrinated his men with the importance of saving human life and the rendering of humanitarian service to all, regardless of creed or class.

On Good Friday, March 27, 1891, a great fire occurred in the Cork Courthouse, Washington Street, while cases arising out of the political movement of the time were being tried.  William O'Brien, M.P., and John Dillon, M.P., were in court that day to give evidence for five Tipperary men who were being tried.  The fire was first observed shortly after six  o'clock in the evening, when flames were seen licking around the base of a chimney shaft, but Judge Monrose refused to adjourn the court until it was noted that the frames of the roof lights were ablaze and molten lead from the windows began dropping down into the courtroom.  The Fire Brigade arrived as did a large party of military from Cork Barracks, but the building was beyond saving, along with the municipal records and most of the County's legal records.

The political trials created quite a bit of feeling in 'Rebel Cork' and the crowd cheered when the Union Jack was enveloped in flame, prompting Rudyard Kipling to pen "The English Flag".

Superintendent Wickham was already in trouble with the Corporation (click here to see further details) and the Courthouse fire sealed his fate.  In May, 1891, he was demoted to Brigade Foreman and Alfred Hutson was made Superintendent.  Mark Wickham died six years later.

adapted from the book "Firecall", compiled by Patrick Poland

Click here to go to Mark Wickham's family and their contribution to Irish freedom