Dr William Stevenson, who had served in the Peninsular War in his youth, was the first medical man to settle in Birkenhead, well before it expanded into a thriving industrial town in the 1820s.
Within its elaborate Gothic frame (appropriate to the architecture of St Mary’s) the relief carving of Stevenson taking a sick woman’s pulse combines an odd mixture of historical styles: 19th century dress for the doctor, vaguely antique draperies for the women, an almost baroque twist to the patient’s pose, and a Grecian lamp in the background. (Sculptor John MacBride).
William and George Hetherington were the sons of William Hetherington, owner of the Birkenhead Ferry and the Ferry Hotel. Both died of consumption and their mother, already a widow, erected this monument. Her second husband lived in Cheltenham, which explains the use of the most prolific firm of sculptors in that town.
Above the inscription a grieving maiden is shown leaning against a broken column and pointing towards tow fragments which have toppled from it. The broken column came to be used on countless 19th century monuments as a general symbol of death, but here it retains its original precise meaning, the breaking off of a family’s line of descent by the death of its only children. the inscription refers to the deceased being buried in ‘the Abbey chapel yard adjoining this church’. (Sculptor George Lewis of Cheltenham).Text taken from 'The Oratory', a guide to the building and its monuments, Joseph Sharples, 1991.