In the 21st century it is quite unusual to find a new memorial inside a parish church.

There are often plenty of older ones, but there needs to be a good reason to be able to obtain permission for a new one from any Diocese.

In Falmouth Parish Church of King Charles the Martyr, however, there is an exception to the rule by the entrance to the Lady Chapel.

Erected and consecrated in 2005, it is a memorial to Joseph Emidy, an African turned British citizen whose story is a strange one.

Now a statue of Emidy has been sculpted by local artist Graham Hall and it was dedicated by Revd Stephen Tudgey at the Seafarer's Cabin in Falmouth Docks on Saturday morning. 

Born in Guinea, West Africa, in 1775, he was sold into slavery at the age of 12.

He was taken to Brazil by the Portuguese traders who now owned him. There he was taught by Jesuit Priests and very soon showed that he had an aptitude for music.

Luckily he had an enlightened slave master who took him to Lisbon and provided him with a violin and a teacher. After three or four years young Joseph became second violin in the Lisbon Opera Orchestra.

In 1795 during the war with France, HMS Indefatigable struck and rock and put into the River Tagus for repairs. The British frigate was under the command of Captain Sir Edward Pellew, a renowned Cornish seafarer.

He was rowed ashore and visited the opera in Lisbon and was impressed with the way Emidy played his violin.

The captain ordered one of his lieutenants to take two or three of the boat’s crew and press Emidy, against his will, into service on Indefatigable.

The captain noticed that Emidy hated his situation but also the music he had to play, so he was not allowed to set foot ashore for the next four years in case he made a break for freedom.

In 1799, after Indefatigable had put into the Isles of Scilly for repairs in the previous year, Emidy was discharged in Falmouth.

In 1802, Emidy placed an advert in the Royal Cornwall Gazette, stressing that he taught piano, cello, clarinet and flute, as week as guitar and mandolin.

On August 19 a benefit concert was held for him at Wynn’s Hotel, Falmouth. The last remnant of this hotel still exists as De Wynn’s Coffee House in Church Street and backing on to the quay where Mr Wynn built Falmouth’s first gas works.

A number of older Falmothians still refer to it as Gas Works Quay.

The concert contained a violin concerto, composed by Emidy. At this time he was already leader of the Falmouth Harmonic Society.

IN 1802 he married Jenefer Hutchins, daughter or a respected local tradesman, in Falmouth Parish Church and in the following year their first son, Joseph, was born and baptized in the church.

IN 1804 James Silk Buckingham, of Flushing, began flute lessons with Emidy and in the same year, Emidy was involved with the first of Truro’s biennial concerts and balls.

The following year a second son Thomas was born and he later became a cabinet maker, carpenter and leader of quadrille band.

After the birth of their third son James in 1808, a sketch called A Musical Club was done, featuring the only known portrait of Emidy.

That year also saw the third Truro concert and ball and the programme included overtures by Handel and Martini, symphonies by Haydn and a violin concerto by Emidy himself.

Cecilia and Benjamin were born in 1809 and 1812 respectively, although Benjamin died four days after his baptism when he was only two months old.

A fifth son Richard was born in Truro on 1818 and reports suggest a sixth son William was also born around that time.

He formed the Helston Philharmonic Society in 1824, before he died in April 1835 at the age of 60 and was buried in the churchyard of Kenwyn Church.

His son Richard died two years later at the age of 20 and was buried near his father.