Unusual Epitaphs
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Stories in Stone:
A Field Guide to
Cemetery Symbolism and
Iconography





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        CALDWELL, James and Hannah
Buried in Elizabeth, New Jersey

    Sacred to the memory of the rev. James Caldwell and Hannah, his wife,
    who fell victims to their country's cause, in the years, 1780 and 1781.

    He was the zealous and faithful pastor of the presbyterian church in
    this town, where, by his evangelical labours in the gospel vineyard,
    and his early attachment to the civil liberties of his country, he has
    left, in the harts of his people, a better monument, than brass or marble.

    Stop, passenger,
    here also lie the remains of a woman, who exhibited to the world a
    bright constellation of the female virtues. On that memorable day, never
    to be forgotten, when a British foe invaded this fair village, and fired
    even the temple of the Deity, this peaceful daughter of Heaven retired
    to her hallowed apartment, imploring Heaven for the pardon of her
    enemies. In that sacred moment, she was, by the bloody hand of a British
    ruffian, dispatched, like her divine Redeemer, through a path of blood,
    to her long-wished for native skies.

    Source : Alden 1814 v.1


CAMERON, Penual
Died May 7, 1818
Buried Inveravon, Banffshire, Scotland

    This stone was erected here by John Hendrie who died the 24th Dec. 1815 in the 63d year of his age with the concurrence of Penual Cameron his spouse who died 7 May 1818 in the 57th year of her age. &c.

    Source : Jervise 1875


CARPENTER, Benjamin
Buried at Guilford old cemetery, Vermont.

    Sacred to the memory of the
    Hon. Benjamin Carpenter, Esq.
    Born in Rehoboth, Mass., A. D. 1764.
    A public teacher of righteousness,
    An able advocate lost for democracy,
    And the equal rights of men.
    Removed to this town A. D. 1770. Was a field officer in the revolutionary war.
    A founder of the first Constitution and Government of Vermont.
    A Councilor of Censors in A. D. 1783.
    A Member of the Council and Lieutenant-Governor of the State in A. D. 1779.
    A firm professor in Christianity in the Baptist Church 50 years.
    Left this world and 146 persons of lineal posterity
    March 29, 1804, aged 78 years 10 months and 12 days,
    with a strong mind and full faith of a more glorious state hereafter.
    Stature about 6 feet, weight 200.
    Death had no terror.

    Source : The New York Times, April 20, 1884


CHAMPION, James
Monumental inscription in New York, New York

    At Sandy Hook lie interred the remains of the honourable Hamilton Douglas
    Halliburton, son of Sholto Charles, earl of Morton, and heir of the
    ancient family fo Halliburton, of Pitcurr, in Scotland, who perished on
    this coast, with twelve more young gentlemen and one common seaman, in
    the spirited discharge of duty, on the 30 or 31 of December, 1783, born,
    the 10 of October, 1763, a youth, who in contempt of hardship or danger,
    though possessed of an ample fortune, served seven years in the British
    navy, with manly courage, and seemed to deserve a better fate. This
    plain monumental stone is erected by his unhappy mother, Katharine,
    countess dowager of Morton, to his dear memory and that of his unfortunate
    companions, James Champion, lieutenant of marines; Alexander Johnstone,
    George Paddy, Robert Haywood, midshipman; Charles Gascoigne, Andrew
    Hamilton, William Scott, David Reddie, William Tomlinson, William Spry,
    John M'Chain, Robert Wood, young gentlemen; George Towers, common seaman;
    cast away, all found dead and frozen, and buried in one grave.

    Source : Alden 1814 v.1


CHAPMAN, William
Gravestone at Beckenham, Kent, England

    Sacred to the Memory of
    William Chapman
    of this Parish,
    who died December the
    25th 1793
    Aged 77 years.
    Sixty years of his life were passed under the Burrell Family, three
    successive Generations of which he served with such Intelligence and
    fidelity, as to obtain from each the sincerest respect and Friendship,
    leaving behind him at his Death the Character of a truly Honest and
    good Man.

    Source : Andrews 1899


CHAPMAN, William; BOWN Elizabeth and Peter
Hampstead churchyard, Middlesex, England

    To the Memory of
    William Chapman,
    late of the Parish of St. George,
    Bloomsbury; Painter:
    who died January 9th 1789,
    Aged 69 Years.
    He was a Downright, Upright,
    Honest Man.

    Also Elizabeth Bown,
    of Brownlow Street, Holborn;
    who died of a Broken Heart,
    the 14th of February 1789,
    Aged 37 Years.
    She was a tender Parent,
    and a Virtuous Wife.

    Also her Son Peter Bown,
    who fell a Victim to the allurements
    of the Ice, whilst Skating on the
    serpentine River, December 5th 1796;
    Aged 19 years.

    Source : Roffe 1859


CHARLTON, John (Esq.)
Morville Churchyard, Shropshire, England

    He was for many years master of Wheatland Foxhounds, and died
    January 20th, 1843, aged 63, regretted by all that knew him: -
    Of this world's pleasures I have had my share,
    And few the sorrows I was doomed to bear.
    How oft have I enjoyed the noble chase
    Of hounds and foxes, striving for the race;
    But, hark! the knell of death calls me away,
    Lo, sportsmen all, farewell! I must obey.

    Source : Fairley 1873


CHAUNCY, Isaac
Buried : Hadley, Massachusetts

    Here lies interred the body of the rev. Isaac Chauncy, pastor of the
    first church of Christ in Hadley, who was of a truly peaceable and
    catholick spirit, a good scholar, an eloquent orator, an able divine,
    a lively, pathetick preacher, a burning and shining light in this
    candlestick, an exemplary christian, an Israelite indeed, in whom was
    no guile. He departed this life, 2 may, A.D. 1745, aetat. 74.

    Source : Alden 1814 v.3


CHEW, William
Died March 13, 1712.
Mural tablet in Dunstable Church, Bedfordshire, England

    Here lies the body of William Chew,
    That when alive was beloved by few;
    Now where he's gone, or how he fares,
    Nobody knows, nor nobody cares.

    Source : Johnson 1883


CHEWNEY, Katherine
Died 15 February 1650
Buried : St Nicholas-at-Wade, Kent, England, in the Chancel of the Church.

    Here lyes in expectation of a Glorious
    Resurrction the Body of Katherine
    The beloved Wife of Nic. Chewney
    Vicar of this Parish, by whom he
    Had two Sonnes, viz. Nicholas
    And John both deceased &
    Lye here interred, She
    Departed hence ye 15th
    Of Febru. Anno 1650
    And in the 24th
    Yeare of her
    Age.

    Pignus Amoris
    Pignus Doloris

    A loyall loving Wife and Mother deare
    Twixt her two Babes doth lye interred here;
    Whose Soules fit crowned in that Heavenlye Quire
    Of endlesse joy, fill'd with Coelestial fire.
    And yet my teares even in their Passion would
    Recall you from that Kingdom if they could.
    Pardon, my Deare, this my distracted Zeale
    And you my Babes, to whome I doe appeal.
    My losse b'ing great, my grief must needs be foe
    The more I strive 'gainst tears the more they flowe
    Till I approach your blisse, O who can tell
    Your happy welcome, or ma sad farewell?

    Source : Le Neve 1718


CHRISTISON, Daniel
Died June 4, 1751
Buried Lochlee, Angus, Scotland

    Here lies Daniel Christison, who departed this life June 4th, 1751, aged 36:-
    From what befalls us here below,
    Let none from thence conclude,
    Our lot shall aftertime be so -
    The young man's Life was good.
    Yet Heavnly wisdom thought it fit,
    In its all sovereign way,
    The flames to kill him to permit,
    And so to close his day.

    Source : Jervise 1875


CLARKE, Daniell and Catherine
He died 30 June, 1626, aged 79 years
She died 24 June 1613, aged 50.
Buried : St Pancras, Middlesex, England.

    A Memorial both of DANIELL CLARKE Esq who left this life most comfortablie the last of June 1626. Ao Aetat svae 79, having bene Master Cooke to Qveene Elizabeth & to King James 29 yeares called to that place betimes for his worthines beloved there & elsewhere for his honest heart and open hand, and also of Catherine his good & loving wife who left this life the 24th of Jvne 1613. Ao Aetat. svae 50.

    Reader before this monvmentall stone,
    Two bodyes lye inter'd that once were one
    Whom death did for a tyme divorce
    And now hath married coarse to coarse
    Their ashes meete in death and have
    For their new marriage-Bed the grave
    A third they yet expect, that fate
    Nor time nor force shall violate
    Wher both shall married and vnmarried bee
    Not to themselves, bvt to eternitie
    Then sleepe yee happy ashes here
    Nor let a groane a sigh or teare
    Distvrbe yovr rest tell the glad noyse
    Of the worlde-wakeninge trvmpitts voyce
    Raise yov from this dead sleepe & call
    Yovr dvst from this sad fvnerall
    To wed their sovles and sovle and body bring
    Vnto the marriage of the Lambe theire Kinge.

    Source : Cansick 1869


CLARKE, Isabell (NICOLLS)
Died 4 July, 1652, aged 77 years.
St Pancras, Middlesex, England.

    Here Lyeth
    Ye Body of RICHARD
    NICOLLS of Kentish Town
    Esqvier. Who Dyed in ye Faith
    of Christ ye 20th Day of Aprill
    Ao DNI 1612, Beinge of ye age of
    59 Yeares, having Bene 19 Yea-
    res married To Isabell Davher
    of Iohn Clarke of Eloesto in
    ye covnty of Bedf: Gentlema
    Who caused this stone
    to Be here laid For ye
    memoriall of him

    Here also lyeth Buried ye Body
    of the said ISABELL NICOLLS who
    lived 40ty Yeares and upwards
    the widowe of the said
    Richard Nicolls and died in
    the Faith of Jesus Christ
    the fourth day of July in
    the Year of our Lord God
    1652 Aged 77 and upwards.

    Source : Cansick 1869


CLARKE, Stephen Hopkins
Memorial in North Providence, Rhode Island

    This frail monument is erected as a memorial of Stephen Hopkins Clarke,
    son of doctor John Clarke and Amey, his wife, who died at sea, on the
    2 day of November, A. D. 1795, in the 18 year of his age.
    Ingulph'd in ocean, buried in the wave
    No friendly hand could rescue or could save
    Thy mortal part, which was but born to try
    The lot of man, to suffer and to die.

    Source : Alden 1814 v.4


CLAY, Mary (Miss.)
Whose father was then a member of Congress
Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

CLAY, Thomas.
Buried : Churchyard of North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England

    In memory of Thomas, son of John and Mary Clay, who departed
    this life December 16th, 1724, in the 40th year of his age.

    What though no mournful kindred stand
    Around the solemn bier,
    No parents wring the trembling hand,
    Or drop the silent tear.
    No costly oak adorned with art
    My weary limbs inclose;
    No friends impart a winding sheet
    To deck my last repose.

    Note from Andrews : The cause of the foregoing epitaph is thus explained. Thomas Clay was a man of intemperate habits, and at the time of his death was indebted to the village innkeeper, named Adlington, to the amount of twenty pounds. The publican resolved to seize the body; but the parents of the deceased carefully kept the door locked until the day appointed for the funeral. As soon as the door was opened, Adlington rushed into the house, seized the corpse, and placed it on a form in the open street in front of the residence of the parents of the departed. Clay's friends refused to discharge the publican's account. After the body had been exposed for several days, Adlington committed it to the ground in a bacon chest.

    Source : Andrews 1899


CLOW, Roderick R., mentioned in the epitaph of :
SPRAGUE, Ruth
Buried near Hoosick Falls, New York

    Ruth Sprague, Daughter of Gibson and Elizabeth Sprague.
    Died June 11, 1846, aged 9 years, 4 months, and 3 days.
    She was stolen from the grave by Roderick R. Clow, dissected at Dr. P. M. Armstrong's office in Hoosick, N. Y., from which place her mutilated remains were obtained and deposited here.

    Her body dissected by fiendish man,
    Her bones anatomized,
    Her soul, we trust, has risen to God,
    Where few physicians rise.

    Source : Eaton 1900


COCHRANE, Jean
Parish of Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, Scotland

    Beneath this stone are deposited the remains of Jean Cochrane,
    Viscountess of Dundee, wife of the Honourable W. Livingston, of
    Kilsyth, and of their infant son. Their deaths were caused by the
    falling in of the roof, composed of turf, of a house in Holland.
    Mr. Livingston was with difficulty extricated. The Lady, her child,
    and the nurse were killed. This occured in the month of October,
    MDCXCV (1695). In MDCCXCV (1795), the vault over which the church at that
    time stood having been accidentally opened, the bodies of Lady Dundee
    and her son, which had been embalmed and sent from Holland, were found
    in a remarkable state of preservation. After being for some time
    exposed to view, the vault was closed. This lady was the daughter
    of William, Lord Cochrane, who predeceased his father, William, first
    earl of Dundonald. She married, first, John Graham, of Claverhouse,
    Viscount of Dundee, who was killed at the battle of Lillicrankie,
    MDCLXXXIX (1689); and secondly, the Honourable William Livingston, who
    succeeded his brother as third Viscount of Kilsyth in MDCCVI (1706). Lord
    Kilsyth married, secondly, a daughter of Macdougal, of Makerstoun,
    but dying under attainder at Rome in MDCCXXXIII (1733), without surviving
    issue, this noble family became extinct. This stone was erected by
    Sir Archibald Edmonston, of Duntreath, Bart., MDCCCL (1850).

    Source : Rogers 1871 v.2


COCHRANE, Rupert John and Isabella
Monumental inscription : St. John's Episcopal Churchyard

    This tablet records the deaths (within a space of two months) of a
    father and mother whose beloved memory seven orphan children cherish
    and revere. Rupert John Cochrane, Esq., of Halifax, N.S., died in
    London, 28th June 1851, aged 50 years; and was buried at Battersea.
    Isabella Maccomb Cochrane, of New York, United States, America, died
    in Edinburgh, 3rd September, 1851, aged 42 years; and was buried in
    the Dormitory attached to this chapel.
    The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away : blessed be the name of the Lord - Job i. 21.

    Source : Rogers 1871 v.1


COHEN, Jacob; known as Rodney Dangerfield
Comedian, actor
November 22, 1921 – October 5, 2004
Buried : Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California

    Rodney
    Dangerfield
    There goes the neighborhood.

    Source : findagrave.com, Memorial # 9556754; wikipedia - Rodney Dangerfield


CONSTABLE, Philip
From Yorkshire
Inscription in Steeple Barton Church, Oxfordshire

    Here lyeth the Body of Sr. Philip
    Constable of Everingham in the County
    of York Baronet, whose whole Estate
    was confiscated by the Usurpers for
    his Loyalty to K. Charles the first.
    He died Febr. 25. Anno Dno 1664.
    This Sr. Philip was Father to Katherine
    Wife of Edward Sheldon of Steeple
    Barton Esq; which Edward was Son
    of Ralph, and he the younger son of
    Edward Sheldon of B... and he
    the son and heir of Ralph Sheldon
    of the said place, in Com. Wig...
    which last purchased one of the
    three Mannors in Steeple Barton
    of the Dorms whith the house
    belonging thereto (built by John
    Dorm) which is now possest by
    Ralph Sheldon, Son and heir of
    Edward Sheldon by Katherine
    Constable his Wife.

    Source : Le Neve 1718


CONVERT, Josephine (Mrs.) and her child
Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

CONYERS, Sarah C. (Miss.)
Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

COOK, Rebecca, wife of William Cook, and her daughter Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

COPLAND, Margaret (Miss.)
Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

CORBISHLEY, Tho.
Buried in Gawsworth, Cheshire, England

    Reader take notice,
    That on ye 12 Feby 1760,
    Tho. Corbishley,
    A brave veteran Dragoon
    Here went into his quarters;
    But remember that when
    The trumpet calls
    He'll out and march again.

    Source : Norfolk 1866


COTTON, Rachel
Died January 17, 1808
Old Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts

    I
    am erected
    by
    Josiah Cotton Esqr
    in remembrance of Rachel his pious and Virtuous Wife, who died Janury 17th 1808 aged 50 years.
    In belief of Christianity I lived,
    In hope of a glorious Resurrection I died.

    Source : Perkins 1902


COUTES or COUTTS, Elvin or Elvira (Miss.)
Died December 26, 1811
Buried in the crypt of the Monumental Church, Richmond, Virginia

COWAN, Andrew, William, and John
Buried in Wigtown graveyard, Wigtownshire, Scotland

    Here lies the corps of Andrew Cowan, of Croft Angry, who died June 6th, 1776, aged 70 yeard. And his son William lies beside him, who died the 21st February, 1778, aged 17 years.
    And his son John of honest fame,
    Of stature small and a leg lame;
    Content he was with portion small,
    Keeped shop in Wigtown, and that's all.
    Died August 21st, 1779, aged 32 years.

    Source : Eaton 1900


CRAN, Alexander
Buried in Monquhitter, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

    Erected by Sophia Stewart, in memory of her beloved husband, Alexander Cran, feuar in Cuminestown, who died 16th June 1833, aged 60 years, by mutual concent of Andrew Lorimer, his Successor.

    Source : Jervise 1875


CREASE, John
Died December 8, 1800, aged 33 years.
Buried in Copp's Hill burial ground, Boston, Massachusetts

    How lov'd how valued once, avails the not
    To whome related or by whome begot;
    A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
    Tis all thou art and all the proud shall be.

    Source : Norton 1921


CREER, Sam
Memorial inscription : Montgomery, Alabama

    Stop, you
    Stone Cutters,
    Here lays
    Sam Creer.
    1855.

    Source : Kippax 1877


CROSS, Ricky W.
Buried : American Memorial Park Cemetery, Grand Prairie, Dallas County, Texas

    Ricky W. Cross
    Oct. 31. 1950
    Nov. 20. 1994
    Died in America
    Land of the homeless

    Source : findagrave.com, Memorial# 55719565


CUSTIS, John
Died shortly after 14 November 1749
Buried at Arlington plantation, Virginia

    Beneath This Marble Tomb Lies ye Body
    of the Honorable John Custis, Esquire,
    of the City of Williamsburg and Parish of Boston,
    Formerly of Hungars Parish, on the Eastern
    Shore of Virginia and the County of
    Northampton, the Place
    of His Nativity.
    Aged 71 Years, and Yet Lived but Seven
    Years, Which Was the Space of Time He
    Kept a Bachelor's House at
    Arlington, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

    The foregoing inscription was placed on this stone by the direction of the deceased.


    Sources : The New York Times, December 20, 1891; Wikipedia - John Custis




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