John Graham Chambers (1843-83) is arguably one of Llanelli's least known 'famous sons'. Born at Llanelly House, the eldest son of William Chambers Junior, John Graham went on to become one of Britain's most eminent sporting journalists and administrators. He staged the FA Cup Final (in 1873), helped to reorganise athletics and rowing along modern lines, and above all, was the man actually responsible for drawing up the definitive rules of boxing, even though these were given the name of his friend, the Marquess of Queensberry (who later became notorious due to his relationship with Oscar Wilde). True, Chambers is commemorated by a LCH blue plaque, which I sponsored, on the Vaughan Street wall of Llanelly House. This will be very familiar to all twelve-feet tall inhabitants of the town, but perhaps rather less well known to those of more modest proportions.There are several mentions of Chambers in the recent biography of Queensberry by Linda Strattman:

At Cambridge Queensberry formed a close friendship that was, for a time, to supply a much-needed focus in his life. John Graham Chambers was born in Llanelly on 12 February 1843, had been educated at Eton and entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1861. He was a fine sportsman who excelled at rowing [he took part in two Boat Races], putting the shot, throwing the hammer and the cricket ball, and walking, although his 'heavy build and powerful frame' did not make him an ideal runner. Known for his integrity and loyalty to his friends, Chambers was a firm believer in the value of physical education, and was admired and much respected by his fellow sportsmen.
Indeed, it seems that Chambers was known to his friends as 'Honest John'. Later, Strattman writes of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules of boxing: 'Queensberry never made any secret of the fact that it was Chambers who drew up the main body of the rules, which he then approved with some small amendments concerning weights'. Chambers later rowed alongside Captain Webb during latter's cross-Channel swim, the first ever recorded, but died at the age of just thirty-nine at his London home, following a short illness.

I'd known for some time that John Graham Chambers was buried in Brompton Cemetery, London, but hadn't had an opportunity to look for his grave. Recently, though, the very useful (if macabrely named) website 'Deceased Online' placed the burial records for Brompton on the internet, so it was then an easy matter to obtain an approximate location. As I had a meeting in the area and a couple of hours to kill beforehand, I was able to track down the grave. Fortunately, it's in one of the plots alongside the main road through the centre of the cemetery, which are kept reasonably clear; all of the plots further away from the road are heavily overgrown. The simple inscription to Chambers is perfectly clear [In Beloved Memory of John Graham Chambers Died 4th March 1883], but unfortunately, the large cross which should form the headstone is no longer in position, but laid across the grave; it's unclear whether this is a result of vandalism or the decay of the mortar, although I suspect it was probably the latter. Perhaps the restoration of the grave might be a worthy cause for interested parties in Llanelli at some point in the future?


See also:
The Olympics:Made in Llanelli?
The Olympics, Dai Greene and Chambers