Surgeon Major Francis Synge Sillifant 1832-1894


Francis Synge Sillifant was born in Teignmouth in 1832.


His parents were John Sillifant, JP and Chairman of the Crediton Poor Law Union Board of Guardians, and his wife Caroline (nee Woolcombe) who died when Francis was 11. His father inherited Coombe House and its estate near Coleford in 1844.


Aged 18 Francis was a medical student, living with a surgeon in Greenwich, London.

He qualified three years later and in 1855 joined the Honourable East India Company as an assistant surgeon of the third contingent of the Rajah of Gwalior, being promoted to surgeon of the 14th Native Infantry in 1867.


In 1878, he married Fanny Gertrude Hamlyn, daughter of Shilston Calmady Hamlyn, High Sheriff of Devon, who owned Paschoe nearby and Leawood near Bridestowe. They had no children. After he retired from the army they lived in Exmouth.

He died suddenly, aged 62, in Exeter.

The funeral was at Colebrooke church where he was interred in his family vault.

His widow paid for the magnificent altar in his memory, unveiled in Colebrooke Church in 1896. Carved from Devonshire oak, its centrepiece is a white clunch stone relief depicting the Pentecost. This was the work of Harry Hem & Sons of Exeter.

His widow changed her surname to Sillifant-Hamlyn in 1897 and died as an inmate in the Wonford Hospital, then a private mental asylum, on the outskirts of Exeter, in 1901.

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Above: Dedication to Dr Sillifant on South side of altar

Left: Reredos or Altar at Colebrooke Chuch.

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