Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Westminster Abbey and burial in Church

Robert Leeke Died 1762
Buried in Church
Saint Mary The Virgin  - Great Snoring  [Link]
© Godric Godricson

The Tombs in Westminster Abbey
Henry W. Lucy
The North American Review
 (1892)


"What is less known is the presence within the precincts of the Abbey of a long list of nonentities. As recently as the year 1817 there was buried in the cloisters George Wellington Francis Balthasar St. Anthonio, aged two years. The Royal Commission in vain inquired as to the identity of Master Anthonio, and the wherefore of the honour done to him, for which Nelson cheerfully perilled his life at St. Vincent. Nothing is known of him, only his name, under the weight of whose syllables the infant seems to have sunk ere yet he learned to walk. It is easy to understand why in 1801 Susanna Frances was buried in Westminster Abbey, for it is mentioned in the register that she was the widow of a sacrist. Similar honor was done in following years to George Schliemacher, "formerly servant to the Dean"; Elizabeth Newbegin, wife of the college butler; Mary Barrow, widow of a chorister  Ann Forster, niece of the Abbey carpenter, and Amelia Cook, daughter of the Abbey organist, were people connected, however obscurely, with the service of the Abbey, and were buried within its precincts. But persons having property in the neighborhood claimed the right, and generally had it admitted. Macpherson, the reputed author of " Ossian," died in Inverness. When his will was opened, there was found in it directions for his burial in Westminster Abbey on the ground that he had property near there.

Buried in Church
Saint Mary The Virgin  - Great Snoring  [Link]
© Godric Godricson

No objection was offered on the part of the authorities. Macpherson's body was brought by hearse all the way from the far north and buried in the Abbey close by Dr. Johnson, who when alive had not been reticent in his criticism on " Ossian." In the register one finds an entry of the interment of a lady with the explanation that it was "so ordered in her will,"? scarcely sufficient authority in these days for burial in Westminster Abbey. forward. It belongs to the Duke of Northumberland's family, who claim a prescriptive right of burial in this Abbey dating back to the time when the Duke of Somerset  married the heiress of the Percys. The Percy tomb is in the chapel of St. Nicholas, and when in 1883 Lady Louisa Percy died she was buried there. Naturally an end must come to this luxury. There are already twenty-five coffins in the vault, and scarcely room enough for another full grown Percy. There is one other private vault in the nave, that of Atterbury. This good bishop, having been sent to the Tower on suspicion of high treason, and subsequently banished from the realm, left directions in his will that he should be buried in Westminster Abbey, adding the proviso that it should be "as far away as possible from Kings "? a foresight lacking in the case of Macpherson, who never thought of Dr. Johnson when he desired to be buried in the Abbey".

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