On the sign:
The symbol of Richmond Municipality
LONDON BOROUGH OF RICHMOND UPON THAMES
Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme
Bernardo O’Higgins was born on 20th August 1778. He was the son of Ambrosio O’Higgins, an Irish citizen working for the Spanish Crown, and Isabel Riquelme. a member of a wealthy family from Chile. In 1788, Bernardo’s father was named Governor General of Chile which meant his son would receive a formal education. To this effect he was sent to Peru where he attended the exclusive Universidad de San Carlos, then onto Spain, and finally to Richmond.
It was while he was in Richmond from 1795 and 1799 that he met the influential Francisco Miranda who was one of the key thinkers and drivers of the American independence movement.
At the age of twenty he left Richmond, initially returning to Spain and then going back to Chile when his father died in 1801. Bernardo inherited the estate of San José de Las Canteras, and began his life in Chile as a landowner before entering the world of local politics and becoming involved in the first campaigns of the nationalist movement.
After Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, a meeting in Santiago on 18th September 1810 voted for a limited self-government, until the Spanish throne was restored. For many people, including Bernardo, a limited self-government was not enough. They wanted complete independence and freedom. Aware of his limited military education Bernardo began training with Colonel Juan MacKenna, but following the disaster of Rancagua, where O’Higgins’ patriotic army was defeated by the larger Royalist army, they were forced to seek refuge in Mendoza, Argentina where they retrained and started to plan a strategy to gain Chile’s independence.
On 21st January 1817, the Argentine General José de San Martin, together with O’Higgins, led an army of five thousand men across the Andes Mountains towards the Fatherland. In the battle of Chacabuco they defeated the Royalist forces and took control of. Santiago, the capital.
In 1818 Bernardo O’Higgins was named Supreme Director of Chile. After taking power he created a Republic, and set the foundation for peace and order. He also introduced great economic and social reforms as well as the Chilean Navy.
Bernardo proved to be a determined and energetic leader and went on to establish schools, libraries, hospitals and public cemeteries that would accommodate different religions.
Unfortunately his reforms were met with strong opposition from the powerful elite and he was forced to abdicate in 1823, abandoning the country for Lima, Peru with his mother, sister and son.
In later life he returned to Chile but despite ill health and physical deterioration he was still interested in the issues regarding his home country.
O’Higgins died on 24th October 1842 in Lima, and in 1866 his remains were moved to Chile by the Navy. He was buried in the General Cemetery of Santiago before being moved again on 10th May 2006 to his final resting place, in the Plaza de la Ciudadanía as recognition of his important and unequalled historic actions.
Information supplied by: The Instituto O’Higginiano, London
[In the center an image of Bernardo O’Higgins ]
LAW, LIBERTY and LEGALITY define the governance and spirit of Bernardo O’Higgins, a Chilean citizen who adopted these ethical values after spending time in Richmond as a student.
A commemorative plaque for a leader who led Chile’s independence, who spent his twenties in Richmond as a student.
The statue to which the sign points to, photographed that day Click for a larger image
On the base of the statue:
GENERAL BERNARDO O’HIGGINS
LIBERATOR OF HIS COUNTRY
LIVED AND STUDIED IN