James Close was a Sergeant in the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot and then became a member of Salford Police Force.
He was born in Northern Ireland, the son of John Close, Shoemaker. It is believed that the Close family originated in the Netherlands and came to Northern Ireland with William of Orange (King William 111, who shared the throne with his wife Queen Mary 11. Protestant William defeated the Catholic forces of King James 11 at the Battle of the Boyne).
James enlisted in the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot. The regiment was stationed in Ireland in 1869, Channel Islands in 1872 and in Ireland again in 1877. However, it was whilst stationed in Fleetwood Barracks, he met and married Mary Scott, daughter of William Scott, Grocer, of 4, North Johnson Street, Salford and formerly of Northern Ireland. The wedding took place at St. Matthias Church, Salford on 15th December 1876. He was aged 24 and she was 27.
On 17th April 1877, James took advantage of the Salford Police Force policy of recruiting army personnel into its ranks and became a probationary Police Constable. He became a full Constable a month later, on 19th May 1877. In 1881, the couple were living at 2, Bermondsey Street, Salford. However, eight years later, James was to die on Saturday 9th November 1889 at the age of 38. An Inquest held by Salford Borough Coroner Mr F Price, revealed that for the past five weeks, James had complained of pains in his back. He continued on duty up to the morning he died (having been on night duty) when he went home at 6 am. He appeared to be very ill and said that the pains in his back were very bad, but would not allow his wife to send for a doctor. She applied cloths soaked in hot water and turpentine, but he became worse and died at 5 pm. The Jury found a verdict of death from natural causes. (However, the Close family have a "family legend" that James was attacked on duty in the Adelphi area, and this lead to his death).
The funeral of PC Close took place at Weaste Cemetery on Thursday 14th November. The cortege left the deceased's residence, 17, Rosamond Street, Salford, consisting of a car and three carriages of relatives and friends, preceded by 20 constables and followed by Salford Police Band. The full force of constables followed the carriages, including the Chief Constable (Mr W.L.Marshall) and Superintendent Donohoe. The coffin was of solid oak with brass mountings and was covered in wreaths. The funeral service was conducted by the Rev. Sykes of St Clement's Church, Lower Broughton and the constables sang hymns at the graveside, accompanied by the police band.
Shortly after James's death, his widow Mary, appealed to the Chief Constable for financial assistance. The minutes of the Watch Committee record that although James had died from heart disease, she would be awarded up to £20. But due to her "intemperance" the Chairman would decide weekly sums as appropriate. Mary was to return to Belfast where she eventually ended her days in the Workhouse infirmary.
Two other names appear on the gravestone: John and Mary Close. John was James's younger brother, born in 1854 in Northern Ireland. He too joined the 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment of Foot and later became a Labourer. By coincidence, he too married a Mary Scott and she was the daughter of William Scott, Labourer, of Kilkeel, County Down. The wedding took place at St. Bartholomew's Church, Salford on 25th May 1883. He was 28 years old and she was 23. In 1901 they were living at 28, Brighton Street, Salford with their 15 year old son James and Mary's sister Sarah Scott. John was to die of bronchitis on 1st March 1916 at 10, Regent Square, Salford, aged 62. Mary died on 2nd November 1926 aged 66.
Thanks to Cora Close of Flixton for providing family details.