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Forum Home > Words from the Dead. > Unexpected Demise.

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Posts: 1413

Death, as they say, is as sure as having to pay your taxes. No matter how well we plan for the future, accidents and other unforseen events can prove the undoing of the best of us. No matter how swift or sudden the end, there seems no shortage of folk, who will rush to commemorate the event, with a suitable line or two. A great many include the reason of why the deceased was ' planted ', and to lessen the pain I suppose, a bit of humour crept in as well. Judge for yourself.

Here lie I,

And no wonder I'm dead,

For the wheel of a waggon,

Went over my head.

They evidently told it just as it was in Wales, as indeed they did in an case like this in Staffordshire. Down in Sevenoaks, Kent, when a similar thing occured, they expanded the sentiment.

Here I lie,

No wonder I'm dead;

For a broad wheeled waggon,

Went over my head.

Grim death took me,

With out a warning.

I was well at night,

And dead in the morning.              John Wight, 15th March,1797.

Somewhat earlier in time, we find that sudden death could rain down from the sky as well.

Here doth lye the bodie, of John Flye,

Who did die by a stroke from a sky-rocket.

Which hit him in the eye-socket.                    Sutherland, about 1680.

There is another similar one in Kent, and on a day you would expect it, November 5th, in the year 1796. Simon Gilker, 48, being the unlucky victim. Vengence from the Lord, was sometimes ascribed to deaths from Lightning, as in this one.

Here lies a man who was killed by Lightning;

He died when his prospects seemed to be brightening.

He might have cut a flash in this world of trouble,

But the flash cut him, and he lies in the stubble.

The good folk of Great Torrington in Devon at least had a lesson in how to compose, a truly awful bit of prose. Meanwhile, over in Surrey.

Aginst his will                                                      

Here lies George Hill                                 

Who from a cliff                                                              

Fell down quite stiff.


Theres a lot more to add, but old father time has caught up with me today, I shall return.


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

August 13, 2012 at 4:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1413

A sudden death though, can leave us all quite speechless, but thankfully, there's a few who keep their wits. This next one is very old, and comes from Venice, Italy.

To Joanni Magio, an incomparable boy,

Who, thro' the the unskilfulness of the Midwife,

On the 21st day of December, 1532,

Was translated from the womb, to the tomb.

I detect a touch of anger in that one, I wonder if they later on named the bungling midwife. Over in the new found world of America, some had a rather "shrug your shoulders " attitude.

Beneath this stone our baby lays,

He neither cries nor hollers,

He lived just one and twenty days,

And cost us fivety dollars.

Here's another complaining Epitaph, this time from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, although clearly not written by Donald Robertson. Other names and different wording have been recorded, all from Cheltenham though.

Here I lies and my two daughters,

Killed by drinking Cheltenham waters.

If we had stuck to Epsom salts,

We shouldn't be lying in these vaults.

Now some folk in the distant past, caused their own premature removal from the land of the living. Take this next one, who from the sound of it, tried to fly across the River Severn at Shrewsbury.

let this small monument, record the name of CADMAN,

And to future times proclaim;

How by an attempt to fly, from this high spire,

Across the Sabrine stream, he did aquire,

His fatal end.

'Twas not for want of skill,

Or courage to perform the task, he fell;

No,no; a faulty cord being drawn too tight,

Hurried his soul on high to take her flight,

Which bid the body here goodnight.

Feb. 2nd, 1739, aged 28.

And another, but a lot shorter, in the same vane.

Blown upward, Out of sight,

He sought the leak by candlelight.

Be warned, Gas can be just a bit on the dangerous side, as can the careless use of a Gun.

A bird, a man, a loaded gun.

No bird, a dead man.

Thy will be done.

Or this one.

Here lies a man whose crown was won,

By blowing in an empty gun.

Or one of my favourite epitaphs.

Here lies Butch,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.

At least he had a fair chance though, unlike the last one in the post, a certain George Johnson, who can be found residing in Boot Hill, Tombstone, Arizona.

Hanged by Mistake.

All I can add about the last one is, it was hardly likely to have been his own mistake.


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

August 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1413

Some folk from the past, seemed to have tempted fate a step too far, and paid the ultimate price. Like this one, a comment on a silly thing to do.

Henry Edsel Smith.  New York.

" Looked up the Elevator shaft to see if it was coming,

   It was ".

And it seemed, no amount of warnings would deter some of them from the jaws of death.

Buried here lies Baldy Price;

Wouldn't listen to sound advice.

Wondered off without a care;

Injuns lifted all his hair.

They do say, that what you don't know won't hurt you, well thats not always true. As this next one will clearly show.

This is the Grave of Ellen Shannon,

Who was fatally burned, on March 21,1870,

By the explosion of a Lamp.

Filled with R.E. Danforths non Explosive Burning fluid.

You should of course be careful of how much you eat and drink as well.

Here lies Johnny Cole,

Who died, on my soul,

After eating a plentiful dinner.

While showing his crust,

He was turned into dust,

With his crimes undigested, poor sinner.

Thats from Tiptree in Essex, and just balance it up, one from the other end of the Country in Northumberland.

Here lies Ned Rand, who on a sudden,

Left off roast beef for hasty pudding;

Forsook old stingo, mild and stale,

And every drink for Adams ale;

Till flesh and blood reduced to batter,

Consisting of mere flour and water,

Which wanting salt to keep out must,

And heat to bake it to a crust,

Mouldered and crumbled into dust.

Mind you, when accidents do happen, and you find loved ones torn away from the family, you should try and look on the positive side.

Toot went the Trumpet,

Bang went the drum.

The pearly gates opened,

And in went Mum.

Takes all sorts to make our world a happy place to live in, and a few odd balls in the next it seems. Now if, during your holiday this year, you find yourself anywhere near Acton Church, Cornwall, do try and have look for this one.

Here lies entombed one Roger Morton,

Whose sudden death was early brought on;

Trying one day his corn to mow off,

The razor slipped and cut his toe off:

The toe, or rather what it grew to,

An inflammation quickly flew to;

The parts they took to mortifying,

And poor dear Roger took to dying.


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

October 5, 2012 at 3:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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Posts: 1413

Death, when it strikes, is no respector of age. Whether they be young or old, there are relatives who not only show their grief, but sometimes a bit of anger as well, as this one from Cheltenham clearly demonstrates.

Since I am so quickly done for,

I wonder what I was begun for.

That one was but a few months old, the next little verse, from the same County, Gloucestershire, tells of possible twins, torn cruelly from this world.

Here lie two babbies, as dead as nits,

Who died in agonizing fits;

They were too good to live with we,

So God did take to live with he.

At time, there was time to enjoy a little play on words, but I would care to bet, that the parents of the next deceased didn't pen this verse themselves.

To the memory of Emma and Maria Littleboy,

The twin children of George and Emma Littleboy of Hornsey,

Who died July 16th, 1783.

Two Littleboys lie here,

Yet strange to say, these Littleboys are girls.

The biggest killer of a bygone age was desease, and with very little medical knowledge, the end result was always the same, A quiet little spot in the graveyard.

The cup of life just with her lips she prest,

Found the taste bitter, and declined the rest.

Averse: then turning from the face of day,

She softly sighed her little soul away.

Poor little Maria Scott from Ely, Cambridgeshire, just 7 years old in 1858. Her Epitaph, while sad in the extreme, as least doesn't go into such graphic detail as the next one. Too much detail some would say.

Death has taken little Jerry,

Son of Joseph and Serena Howells;

Seven days did he wrestle with the dystentery,

Then he perished in his little bowels.

They were of course, much more open about it all in the 1750s, and today, some them wouldn't be allowed as they sound rather frivolous. Like the last one in this post, that can be found in other forms, in graveyards around the Country.

Here lies Jane Kitchen, who,

When her glass was spent,

Kicked up her heels and away she went.


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

March 10, 2013 at 3:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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