St Andrew’s Churchyard, Rodney Street
A pyramid monument to the William McKenzie (20 March 1794-29 October 1851) rests in the churchyard of the (currently disused and needing restoration) Scottish Presbyterian Church of St Andrew’s, dating from 1824. McKenzie made his fortune as a civil engineer in the Victorian era but it is the nature of his burial, or lack of it that has become legendary.
It is said he was a notorious gambler and that one day he made a pct with the Devil to ensure he got a winning hand during a poker match. The price of course was his soul. When he became ill shortly afterwards he got worried that the Devil may actually come for him, so left instructions that he was not to be buried, but instead encased in a pyramid, sat upright at a table with the winning cards. His logic was that if he was not buried in the ground the devil would not take him.
Whether he actually was a gambler is unknown and could be that the tale arose just because of the shape of his monument. Described as “one of the most important figures in the civil engineering world of the second quarter of the nineteenth century” (Michael M Chrimes, Librarian of the Institution of Civil Engineers). He died at 74 Grove Street, Liverpool where he had been resident since 1843. He had no children so the bulk of his £340,000 estate passed to his brother.