A Pembrokeshire sailor, who spent his boyhood chasing smugglers and lived to the age of 102, finally has a headstone to mark his final port.

George Reynolds grew up in Milford Haven and later lived in Lower Town Fishguard, where after his death, he was buried in a grave left unmarked for more than seven decades.

Now his descendants have joined forces to provide a headstone to commemorate the life of George, his wife Mary and two of their 12 children.

George went to sea at the age of just 14, joining the HMS Eagle sailing ship in Neyland.

The Eagle was stationed in the channel with the task of intercepting smugglers running between France, Britain and Ireland.

Milford Mercury: George Reynolds lived to be 102 and now has more than 150 descendantsGeorge Reynolds lived to be 102 and now has more than 150 descendants

In an interview with Captain Thomas Richards towards the end of his life, in 1946, Mr Reynolds recounted how the Eagle would try to disable the smuggling ships with its cannons.

Sometimes the boat would sail alongside the smuggling vessel and then the sailors would board it.

“Oh my what a thrilling life it was for a boy,” he said. “Especially that part when the seamen armed with cutlasses actually spang like monkeys from one ship’s rigging to another.”

George worked on the smuggler interception ships for 27 years, coming of age and being allowed to ‘slash away with my cutlass’ alongside the others.

He described the food during this time as ‘beyond description, magotty biscuits and stinking salt beef’ but still with the daily tot of rum.

George witnessed the opening of the Suez canal in 1869, with his ship standing by to salute Princess Eugenie as she opened it.

He was invalided out of the navy in 1872 while serving on his favourite ship the Caledonia, after which he named his house. He received long service and good conduct medals during his time at sea. He then served in the coastguards ending up working in Goodwick and living in Lower Town.

Milford Mercury: George reynolds at the age of 102George reynolds at the age of 102

George married his wife Mary in 1875 and together they had 12 children. Three of his sons were lost at sea, two children died in infancy and another son was injured in the first world war.

His son Willie was another well-known local character who lived in Lower Town all his life and befriended Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole during the filming of Under Milk Wood.

George died in 1946, outliving Mary by decades and being looked after by his daughter Emma.

The couple, along with two of their children were buried in a family plot in St Mary’s Cemetery, however the grave was unmarked up until this year, when his descendants clubbed together to mark his life with a headstone.


“We feel proud that we have done them justice,” said his great grandson Alan Reynolds. “He was such an important man, the head of the family who had done so much in his life.

“He lived to a ripe old age. There are more than 150 descendants today from George and Mary’s marriage.

"It was important for some of us to club together and put the headstone there. We felt that it was so wrong. Nobody deserves to be buried in an unmarked grave.

“It has brought the family together. We didn’t all know each other before. If they are up there looking down, they would be pleased that their offspring have managed to find each other.”