When I found the folder and opened it to check its contents it looked like hundreds of tiny typed copies of inscriptions in small bundles, each one held together by a paper clip. Unsurprisingly, not all the paper clips were still in the right place. Using the description and numbers of items in each theme from the full paper catalogue that the customer had seen here http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/browse/r/h/8005a51f-0e4c-4234-a3a4-361fd9eed21d it didn't take long to make sense of the jumbled slips, and present the customer with what she expected. To prevent this happening again and to make the experience of reading them a little less chaotic in future, we decided to copy the slips onto A4 sheets by theme, which gave us the chance to experience a little flavour of what lay within!
We’ll start with the benevolent Joseph Bleamire, Coachman, 1760 (buried in Barthomley):
Coachman to/JOHN CREWE Esq./left by his last Will and /Testament
the Sum of Sixty/Pounds the Interest of which/to be laid out
weekly in brown/Bread of the value of two/Pence per Loaf and to
be/distributed in the Parish Church of Barthomley/
every/ Sunday immediately after/morning Service to the Poor/of
the Township of Crewe.
Then, how about the somewhat productive Sir Henry Bunbury (17th Century, from Thornton-le-Moors):
He married two Wives: first Anne/by whom he had yssue 3 sonnes
And 6 daughters/and Martha by whom he had/yssue 7 sonnes and 3
And the even more eye watering Lady Katherine Clegg from Heswall:
She was married on the 22nd July 1650 and died on the 26th
August 1666 aged 39. She bore 15 children, 13 sons and two
Next how about poor Latitia Leyland, Born and Died October 1st 1837 in Cheadle:
Sweet Babe, she glanc’d into our world to see
A sample of our misery,
Then turn’d away her languid eye,
To drop a tear or two and die
The cup of life to her lips she press’d
Found the taste bitter and refus’d the rest.
Sweet Babe no more but Seraph now
Before the shrine behold her bow,
Adore the grace that brought her there
Without a wish – without a care,
That wash’d her soul in Calvary’s stream
That shorten’d life’s distressing dream.
Short pain – short grief – dear Babe was thine
Now joys eternal and divine.
If you’ve managed to compose yourself again after reading that one, we can return to issues of mind boggling productivity with Ann Barker of Middlewich:
Here lies Ann, Wife of Daniel
Barker, who died July 3, 1778,
Some have children and some have none,
But here lies the Mother of Twenty one
Time for reflection in Church Lawton where “it is said that an iron tombstone by the main gate of the churchyard bore the following inscription (long since illegible)”:
He was a brute of a husband and
led me a shocking life
Another desperately dispiriting pair now, firstly Martha Clark of Bidston who died in 1846, aged 21:
Nineteen years/a Maid/Two years a Wife./Nine days/a Mother/And
then /Departed Life.
Secondly, here is poor William Pownall of Mobberley who died in 1864, aged 20:
All you that stop this Stone to seeMore happily, it is pleasing to discover that some lived just a little longer. Joseph Watson, ‘Park-keeper’ died in 1753, aged 104 and is buried in Disley:
Pray think how sudden death took me
I in my youth God call’d away
Just before my wedding day
He was Park Keeper to Mr Peter Leigh, at Lyme,
more than 64 years and was ye first
that Perfected the Art of Driving ye Stags.
Here lyeth also the body of Elizabeth his wife,
aged 94 years, to whom
he had been married 75 years.
Reader, take notice, the longest life is short.
A note is added stating “He was born at Mosley Common in Lancashire. He claimed that he drank a gallon of malt liquor every day for sixty years”. Five other centenarians are also recorded, although, sadly perhaps, their level of alcohol consumption isn’t.
If you are interested in Monumental Inscriptions in a more structured sense then please note that a search on our catalogue for that term lists over 400 items in total. Please also be aware that we have a large collection of individual volumes on open access in the public searchroom that each relate to a different Parish in the County.