ONE of the more impressive memorials in Southampton Old Cemetery marks the spot where former Argentinian dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793 – 1877) was initially laid to rest.

Rosas was born into a wealthy family in Buenos Aires.

As an adult he amassed great independent wealth through successful businesses and property acquisition.

The turbulence in Argentina from 1810 also inevitably meant that he gained military experience and so in 1820 he was appointed head of the Buenos Aires provincial militia.

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In 1829 he was elected governor of the province but did not stay in post for the full three years. When he was invited to return In 1835 he agreed to do so only if he was awarded dictatorial powers.

For seventeen years he maintained a tyrannical grip over the province backed up by secret police called the Mazorca.

The legislature and judiciary bent to his will and thousands of ordinary citizens were killed.

He increased his power and the other provinces of Argentina became satellites of Buenos Aires.

Rosas regarded himself as a benevolent dictator and promoted a cult of personality.

His reign came to an end when he went to war with the Empire of Brazil and was defeated.

He escaped to Britain where he was given asylum in thanks for his kindness to British merchants, according to the Foreign Secretary.

Any support he had had in Argentinia fell away and his property and possessions were confiscated.

His daughter, Manuela, followed him into exile. His wife, Encarnación, had died in 1838 and he had increasingly relied on Manuela’s support to the extent that he had forbade her to marry.

Daily Echo: His daughter Manuela de Rosas.His daughter Manuela de Rosas.

In many ways she became the public and diplomatic face of his regime and even held a political post of her own as well as hosting foreign diplomats and government officials.

When she went against his wishes and married, Maximo Terrero, the son of a former associate, he was incandescent with rage and swore never to speak to her again.

Manuela, however, seems to have been genuinely devoted to her father and maintained contact through correspondence.

Rosas had the foresight to sell one of his estancias (ranches) before he was forced to flee and therefore, had sufficient money to maintain a modest lifestyle in England.

He lived firstly at Rockstone House, Carlton Crescent before purchasing the 400-acre Burgess Street Farm at Swaythling.

Here he employed a housekeeper and a few labourers and paid them generous wages.

He became a familiar figure around the town often to be seen riding a handsome black horse.

A contemporary offered the following description: “He was then eighty, a man still handsome and imposing; his manners were most refined, and the modest environment did nothing to lessen his air of a great lord, inherited from his family”.

He died of pneumonia in March 1877.

Manuela, meanwhile, had settled in London and her life in exile was quiet and retiring, in contrast to the public figure she had been in Buenos Aires.

She gave birth to two sons, Manuel and Rodrigo.

Manuel was to return to Southampton after his marriage to Janie Bedell and they lived for a while in Banister Road.

Janie Terrero achieved fame on her own account for her activities as a suffragette. She went to prison and went on hunger strike always with the complete support of her husband.

The family were reunited in death in Southampton Old Cemetery.

Manuela and Maximo were buried with her father. A short distance away lies the grave of Janie and Manuel Terrero. Unfortunately, General de Rosas is no longer with them.

For over a hundred years, the dictator cast a dark shadow over the history of a country that had had many black moments.

In 1988, after the Falklands defeat, President Menem decided – bizarrely – that the repatriation of the body of Rosas would be an opportunity for the country to unite.

The body was removed from Southampton and interred in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Ally Hayes is a tour guide with .