Halifax Police Search for Descendants of Matthew Gardner from 1800’s

In preparation for this month’s unveiling of a monument honouring fallen peace officers, Halifax Regional Police has been gathering information on officers from our organization and its predecessor agencies who have been killed in the line of duty. In doing so, the on-duty death of Officer Matthew Gardner in the 1800’s was discovered and we are interested in speaking to his descendants.

Matthew Gardner, a police officer for the City of Halifax in the 1800’s, was killed in the line of duty on November 5, 1861 when he was 45-years-old. He and Officer Lang had responded to a theft call aboard the vessel the Shooting Star, and Constable Gardner was stabbed in the heart and later died. A fellow officer, presumably the Officer-in-Charge, was quoted in the paper at the time, “Gardner, who was one of the most efficient policemen in the city, lost his life.” Members of the MicMac & Brothers of Sisters Division hosted Constable Gardner’s wake. He is buried in Camp Hill Cemetery.

Officer Gardner was born in Essex England around 1816. He was married to Sophia Rebecca Gardner who passed away in May 1899 at the age of 87. They had two daughters and a son. There is no information on their eldest daughter, but their other daughter, Anne, was born on December 16, 1875. Their son, Matthew, was born in 1849 and passed away of brain fever at 22 years of age.

With respect to the second lineage, Anne Gardner married Philip William Riddell who was a grocer and printer. They lived on Windsor Street, Halifax but also had a stint in Bermuda. They had five children:
– Frederick Herbert Riddell (1876-1891) who died at 14 years of age;
– Ethel M. Riddell (1878-?)
– Fannie E. (1880-?) who was born in Bermuda. She married Benjamin Allen and they had one child, Philip F. Allen. They lived in New London, Connecticut.
– Philip Gardner Riddell (1881-1962) who also lived in New London, Connecticut. We believe he never married.
– Annie Alberta Gardner Riddell (1883-?) who married Harold Thomas Percy Jones of England. Harold was a Royal Engineer in the military. We believe they may have lived in Bedford, NS.

Halifax Regional Police is interested in speaking to the descendants of Matthew Gardner or anyone who may have information about him or his family. He will be recognized on the Fallen Peace Officers’ Monument which will be unveiled in a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Sunday, October 17, 2010 immediately before the 28th Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service at Saint Mary’s Basilica at 10:30 a.m. This service honours Canadian peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty over the last year.

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