Many of Mr Singer's illegitimate children came to stay with the family in Oldway Villa, and in 1875 Alecia Merritt came to stay. Alecia was her father's favourite illegitimate daughter, an actress using the name Agnes Leonard.

She was engaged to be married to Mr. La Grove, a scientific engineer. Mr Singer decided the wedding should be in Paignton and the reception should be in the Wigwam. Guests were invited from France and America and the week before the wedding The Wigwam was alive with music, dancing and parties. Mr. Singer attended all the celebrations, but he caught a cold which developed into a more serious illness than the doctor was able to cure.

On the 14th July Alecia married Mr La Grove at St John's parish church in Paignton, but her father was too ill to give her away. Alicia's trousseau, which was paid for by her father, was made of white satin and Brussels lace. Her veil was also made of Brussels lace and she carried a bouquet of orange blossom. She was attended by six bridesmaids. Her half sister Winneretta, who was just ten years old, was one of them. The cost of all the dresses was over £2,000.

Mr Singer did attend the reception in the Wigwam, but afterwards retired to his bed. The married couple left Paignton for their honeymoon but Mr Singer was very ill. He knew he would not recover, he was losing his strength and asked for his solicitor, Yard Eastley to be sent for as he needed to alter his will. He died during the night of the 23rd July 1875, nine days after Alicia's wedding day. He was in his 64th year. Mr Singer never lived in his Wigwam, he was much too comfortable in Oldway Villa to move.

Knowing his health was not improving he had made all the arrangements for his death. He wanted a white marble mausoleum to be built in Paignton Cemetery which had recently been dedicated, but the ground was not deep enough, so it had to be built in Torquay Cemetery.

For his funeral Mr Singer was dressed in a black morning suit with a white waistcoat. He wore white gloves and patent shoes. He lay on a bed of white satin and maltese lace inside a cederwood coffin. This coffin was laid inside another of thick lead which in turn was placed inside a third one made of English Oak, with silver fittings. The hearse was made of glass and was pulled by Mr Singer's twelve black stallions.

The people lining the road from the Wigwam were able to see the coffin which was surrounded by ferns and greenery as the cortege slowly made it's way to Torquay Cemetery. In front of the hearse was a carriage carrying the Minister and Mr.McKenzie who was Mr. Singer's agent from America.

The hearse was followed by the carriage with his three eldest sons, Mortimer, Washington, Paris and also master Fred Boyer who lived with the family. They were followed by carriages containing the workmen. Private carriages followed behind with friends and business men from Paignton, also from Paris and America. With all the carriages and people on foot who joined the procession, it was said over 2000 people attended Mr Singer's funeral.

As was the custom in America, no ladies or young children attended the funeral.

© copyright Dorothy Atkinson

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