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Forum Home > Words from the Dead. > Graveyard Revenge.

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Posts: 1413

How would you describe the way you have lived your life so far? Have you, for, instance, always been helpful and caring towards others? Have you been generous in soul and spirit towards your friends and relatives? Have you led a temperate and sober life, or have you sometimes stumbled along the path of righteousness? Sadly, we are not all saints, but if you thought, that when the grim reaper finally comes knocking, someone would have inscribed your failings on your headstone, would you like the chance to change your ways. " Never speak ill of the Dead " goes the old saying, and I have never attended a Funeral yet, ( and they become more frequent as time marches on ) where anyone had the courage to really tell the truth about the ' dear departed soul.'  That other old proverb, " Beware, your sins will find you out " , is certainly to the fore in this section of the topic.

Too late of course, to mend your ways, after you have kicked the bucket or turned your toes up, although some would surely chuckle at a few Epitaphs. During the early 1800s, Lord Castlereagh, was Foreign Secretary, and Leader of the House of Commons, and to boot, not a very well liked man. The poet, Lord Byron, wrote a few lines on his demise, which were much admired.

Posterity will ne'er survey,

A nobler grave than this.

Here lie the bones of Castlereagh,

Stop, traveler, and piss.

He may have got the idea from a much earlier Epitaph from Dorset, the subject being a much reviled and hated local Magistrate, Thomas Jay.

Here lieth Sir Thomas Jay, Knight.

Who, being dead, I upon his grave did shite.

Message, as they say, received loud and clear. We seem to have exported the idea around the world as well, which, I suppose, is all down to our belief in free speech. And long may it continue. The next two come from what our ancesters described as " The New World ", the first in 1769, and the second from 1792.

Beneath this stone and not above it;

Lie the remains of Anna Lovett.

Be pleased, dear reader, not to shove it;

For 'twixt you and I, no one does covet,

To see again this Anna Lovett.

Only the Lord knows why she was so unpopular, and the the next one must have upset a few in her time as well.

Molly, tho' a pleasant in her day;

Was suddenly seized and sent away.

How soon she's ripe, how soon she's rotten,

Laid in the grave and soon forgotten.

Even when you think you have done a good job of things, your friends may have a slightly different view of it all.

Here lies John Hill;

A man of Skill,

Whose age was five times ten:

He never did good;

And never would,

If he lived as long again.

Keen observation that from Bishop Auckland, as is this next one from the canny folk of the new world.

Here lies John Rackett;

In his wooden Jacket,

He kept neither horses or mules;

He lived like a hog, and died like a dog,

And left all his money to fools.

Oh dear, that sounds like a very upset relative who found out he had been left nothing in a will. Still, it could have been worse, the poor soul could have been classed as an outright miser.

Here lies a miser who lived for himself,

Who cared for nothing but gathering wealth.

 Where he is and how he fared,

Nobody knows, and nobody cares.

This Epitaph can be found in many other forms, the length and breadth of the land, and was very popular in the late 18th century. Being a bit miserly, was not confined to the men folk either, as the next one shows.

Here lies the body of our Jean,

Non in the parish half as mean.

She stayed in bed her clothes to save,

And nearly drowned to save a grave.

When we all rise on judgment day,

She'll lie here still,

If there's aught to pay.

Not only the mean got targeted, sometimes the more " corpulent " of the population were commented upon, as in this one.

All flesh is grass,

The scriptures say,

And grass when dead is turned to hay.

Now when the reaper her away do take,

What a whopping haystack she will make.

Whoever wrote that one isn't recorded, but on reflection, I'm glad it wasn't me.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1413

Sometimes, you can't be sure that the sentiment expressed, was fully thought out before the Stone Mason carved the words for all the world to see.

Here lies Peter Montgomery,

Who was accidentally shot in his thirtieth year.

This monument was erected by grateful relatives.

Another one, that that at first glance, seems alright, till you think about it.

Underneath this stone,

Lies poor John Round,

Lost at Sea,

And never found.

Thats from up in Derbyshire, but the Irish have a way of dealing with some things that are hard to beat.

Here lies John Higley,

Whose father and Mother drowned,

in their passage from America.

Had they lived,

They would have been buried here.

Meanwhile, up in Scotland.

Erected to the memory of

John MacFarlane,

Drowned in the water of the Leith,

By a few affectionate friends.

Now if that was the case, you wouldn't want any enemies would you. How would you cover a mistake if you were stonemason, and made a little slip with the chisel, or forgot the words. This is one did, after getting the age wrong.

Here lies the body of Mrs Annie Smith,

Who departed this life Octo, The 28th,

in the year 1701.

She lived a maid and died aged 708.

That one is in Bickenhill Churchyard, Solihull, and you can see, the mason was probably banking that the Smith family couldn't read anyway. Other one in the same vane is below.

Here lieth the body of John Rees,

Who departed this life Octr the 17th,1824, aged 249 years.

Reader prepare to meet thy God.

Don't we all wish we had that much time to prepare, as they evidently did in Pembrokeshire, Wales.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

August 22, 2012 at 4:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1413

Now I don't know about you, but I hate going to see a Doctor. It's never really good news is it, take a few more pills, and a report about how fast your old bones are decaying. Back in time, and it could be just as lethal to make an appoinment, as it was to stay away, as the good folk of Dundee well knew.

Here lies Doctor Maynard,

Who filled half this yard.

Doesn't say much for his skill does it, as this next one doesn't say much for the character of the poor deceased.

Here below

Lies William Lowe,

Where he's gone to I don't know.

If it's to the realms above,

There's an end of peace and love.

But if it's to the lower level,

God have mercy on the Devil !

There were quite a few epitaphs penned, but never used, lampooning famous people. Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the father of George III, ( Farmer George ) attracted a fair few while he was alive, and this one when he died.

Here lies Fred,

Who was alive and is dead;

Had it been his father,

I had much rather;

Had it been his brother,

Still better than another;

Had it been his sister,

No one would have missed her;

Had it been the whole generation,

Still better for the nation;

But since tis only Fred,

Who was alive and is dead,

There's no more to be said.

Thats what you get for mixing politics, and being seen as a bit stupid. Which, incidently, is exactly what the last two were guilty of, the Americian sense of humour, shining through both of them. During the 1930s, speed was the essence of the motoring public, with all to tragic results.

Stranger, pause and shed a tear,

For one who leaves no mourners.

D. F. Sapp reposes here;

He would cut corners.

And finally a little warning, which I suppose, given the recent spate of accidents we have had in the region, is still appropiate today.

Here lie G.H.Whilliken's friends, all five.

He took them along when he learned to drive.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Site Owner
Posts: 1413

Now its obvious, that a few Epitaphs you come across, couldn't have actually been penned by the poor deceased, but they must have left behind several rather angry relatives. How about this one from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Here Lies I, and my three daughters,

Killed by drinking of the Cheltenham waters.

If we had stuck to Epsom Salts,

We'd not been a lying in these vaults

On the stone it says Donald Robinson, 1785-1848. What you do in life, sometimes catches up with you in death, as this next one from Aderdeen illustrates. You will find this in other forms, or even with a change of the Town added.

Here lie the bones of Elizabeth Charlotte,

Born a Virgin, died a harlot.

She was aye a virgin at seventeen,

A remarkable thing in Aberdeen.

The cost of funerals has never been cheap, has it, and from the next one, comes a complaint that even a burying a child was a bit expensive.

Beneath this stone our baby lies,

He neither cries nor hollers.

He lived just one and twenty days,

And cost us forty dollers.

There were many unkind words carved on Tombstones, but I bet they wouldn't have said this to the old maid while she was alive. You can see this one in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. It has also been recorded in other places.

Here lies the body of Martha Dias,

Who was always uneasy and not over pious;

She liv'd to the age of threescore and ten,

And gave to the worms she'd refused to the men.

Here's one I really liked, although it was only the two lines added later that made it a bit upsetting.

Stanger weep, for at the age seven,

Little Willie went to heaven.

Cheer up stranger, who can tell,

Willie may have gone to hell.

W. Elderton, back in the 16th century, was known as the " Red Nosed Balladeer ". He upset a few people with his drunken antics, so this rhyme appeared on his tombstone in 1592.

Dead drunk, here Elderton doth lie;

Dead as he is, he still is dry:

So of him it may well be said,

Here he, but not his thirst, is laid.

They were very good in the past at a bit of word play as well, so when Robin Pemberton died, in South Shields, this litle rhyme appeared on the grave.

Here lies ROBIN but not ROBIN HOOD;

Here lies ROBIN that never did good;

Here lies ROBIN by heave'n foresaken;

Here lies ROBIN----the Devil may take un.

From Worcestershire this one, and the supposedly quiet little town of Upton-on-Severn.

Here lies the body of Mary Ford,

Whose soul, we hope, is with the Lord;

But if for hell she's changed this life,

It's better than being John Ford's wife.

Not a marriage made in heaven then, that one, he must have been an awful man. Another one from the same area next, Halesowen, to be precise, and a man who wasn't afraid to sing his own praises.

Weep not my wife and children dear,

I've toiled for you for many a year.

I've always tried to do my best,

But now I've gone to take my rest.

And when you come my grave to see,

Prepare yourselves to follow me.

I will finish with this one, which when I posted it elsewhere, it created a bit of a fuss. It commorates a woman who died in peacefully in her sleep, much, it's suggested, to the husbands relief.

Here lies the quintessence of noise and strife,

Or, in one word, here lies a scolding wife;

Had not death took her when her mouth was shut,

He durst not for ears have touch'd the slut.

Don't blame, I didn't do the original editing.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

January 11, 2013 at 11:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

David Steventon
Posts: 1


The gravestone that fascinated me is or was located in the Quinton Parish Church cemetary.

The inscription read:

Where'er you be let your wind be free

because it was the squeezing of a fart that was the death of me.

April 11, 2014 at 9:06 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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