Saturday, 11 August 2012

The parish clerk in epitaph

The Parish Clerk (1907)
 Peter Hampson Ditchfield
"The virtues of many a parish clerk are recorded on numerous humble tombstones in village churchyards.

The gratitude felt by both rector and people for many years of faithful service is thus set forth, sometimes couched in homely verse, and occasionally marred by the misplaced humour and jocular expressions and puns with which our forefathers thought fit to honour the dead. In this they were not original, and but followed the example of the Greeks and Romans, the Italians, Spaniards, and French.

This objectionable fashion of punning on gravestones was formerly much in vogue in England, and such a prominent official as the clerk did not escape the attention of the punsters. Happily the quaint fancies and primitive humour, which delighted our grandsires in the production of rebuses and such-like pleasantries, no longer find themselves displayed upon the fabric of our churches, and the "merry jests" have ceased to appear upon the memorials of the dead. We will glance at the clerkly epitaphs of some of the worthies who have held the office of parish clerk who were deemed deserving of a memorial".

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