Successful jockey Frederick James “Fred” Archer (born January 11th, 1857 – died November 8th, 1886) was described as being “the best all-round jockey that turf has ever seen”. The son of Grand National winning jockey William Archer, Fred became the apprentice of trainer Mathew Dawson at Heath House.
Eventually, he married Dawson’s niece, Helen Rose Dawson. Archer was known for his ruthlessness on the track, and he took his sport very seriously. In 1882, Fred Archer built Falmouth Lodge and Stables (which is now under the name Pegasus Stables). Over the course of his career, he broke several records, rode thousands of winners, and collected several winnings.
Due to his height of 5’10”, Archer was forced to diet more than other jockeys, which greatly effected his health. His wife, Helen Rose, died during childbirth, leading him into deep depression.
For several days, Archer had been suffering from a fever, and he was being taken care of by his doctor. Mrs. Colemen, his sister, visited him one day, and Fred asked for her to send the nurse away. He asked her “Are they coming?”, and she saw that he was wielding a revolver. She struggled to get the weapon away from him, but he put the gun in his mouth and fired it before she could get it away.
The jury ruled that Fred Archer had committed suicide in a state of an unsound mind. He was only 29 at the time of his death. His fortune was left to his only daughter with the large inheritance of £66,662 being looked over by trustees during her minority.
Some of Archer’s belongings are now on display at the National Horseracing Museum, one of the items being the revolver that he used to take his life.
There have been several reported sightings of Archer riding a ghostly white horse at the stables he founded. He appears to be a benign spirit, and he simply continues his sport beyond the grave.