Saturday, 11 August 2012

Joseph Rogers-parish clerk

The Parish Clerk (1907)
 Peter Hampson Ditchfield

In Shenley churchyard the following remarkable epitaph appears to the memory of Joseph Rogers, who was a bricklayer as well as parish clerk:
Silent in dust lies mouldering here
A Parish Clerk of voice most clear.
None Joseph Rogers could excel
In laying bricks or singing well;
Though snapp'd his line, laid by his rod,
We build for him our hopes in God.

John Collis died 19th June 1781

The Parish Clerk (1907)
 Peter Hampson Ditchfield
In memory of
John Collis Husband of
Eliz: Collis who liv'd in
Wedlock together 50 years
he served as Parish Clerk 41 years
And died June 19th 1781 aged 69 years

Him who covered up the Dead
Is himself laid in the same bed
Time with his crooked scythe hath made
Him lay his mattock down and spade
May he and we all rise again
To everlasting life AMEN.

The name Collis occurs amongst those who held the office of parish clerk at West Haddon. The Rev. John T. Page, to whom I am indebted for the above information, has gleaned the following particulars from the parish registers and other sources. The clerk who reigned in 1903 was Thomas Adams, who filled the position for eighteen years.

He succeeded his father-in-law, William Prestidge, who died 24 March, 1886, after holding the office fifty-three years. His predecessor was Thomas Collis, who died 30 January, 1833, after holding the office fifty-two years, and succeeded John Colledge, who, according to an old weather-beaten stone still standing in the churchyard, died 12 September, 1781. How long Colledge held office cannot now be ascertained. Here are some remarkable examples of long years of service, Collis and Prestidge having held the office for 105 years.

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".

John George Hawdon Died 21st May 1919

Buried - Kalkara, Malta [Link]
© Godric Godricson
The only John George Hawdon that I can locate seems to have been born in Kent although there is no other material. John seems to have slipped into a sort of post mortem anonymity.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Interviews about the graveyard

"Health of towns":
an examination of the report
and evidence of the Select Committee:
ofcMr. Mackinnon's Bill: 

.... for establishing
cemeteries around the metropolis.
(p:22 1843)

Mr. Moses Solomons, who resided in Vinegar-yard, Drury Lane, said, his " back staircase windows looked into the churchyard."

This son of Abraham, who seemed to be a somewhat malicious witness with respect to the gentlemen of the spade and pickaxe, gave evidence, on the main point, of the most decisive and remarkable character.

He has resided during fifty-seven years on the margin of one of the most crowded and worst managed grounds in the metropolis, and the result of this extraordinary experiment is as follows :

" Does any exhalation or putrid smell arise from it ? -Sometimes, in summer time. "

Is that very great. - "Yes, very great. "

Have you ever found it affect your health ? - "No".

Nor the health of your family ? - "No."

This testimony of Moses quite confounded the Chairman, who,  returned to the point by a general interrogatory, and obtained from the aged Jew an answer which only made matters worse :-

" Is that a healthy neighbourhood ? - Where I live (on the margin of one of the worst graveyards) is very healthy."