By Thomas D’Agostino
Since my last two installments, I received several requests for more interesting epitaphs. It appears the New England sense of humor spans the ages when it comes to these quirky and cute limericks and verses. No one was impervious to the chisel and hammer’s compensated prose. Family, friends and even disgruntled neighbors often came forth and suggested the final words that were cut into the stones of those who would be interred underneath.
Some do not seem to make sense due to the fact that the choice of words were not very well thought out such as,
Here lies the body of John Mound.
Lost at sea and never found.
Under these stones lie three children dear;
Two are buried at Taunton and I lie here.
Others are telltale narratives into the life of the person and the writer of the epitaph:
Here lies the wife of brother Thomas
Whom tyrant death has torn from us
Her husband never shed a tear
Until his wife was buried here.
And then he made a fearful rout
For fear she might find her way out.
Epitaph of a dentist reads:
View this gravestone with gravity
He is filling his last cavity.
On a pie maker,
Here into the dust,
The mouldering crust
Of Eleanour Bachelour’s shoven;
Well versed in the arts
Of pies, custards, and tarts
And the lucrative skill of the oven.
When she lived long enough
She made her last puff,
A puff by her husband much praised.
Now here she doth lie,
And makes a dirt pie.
In hopes that her crust shall be raised.
Someone had a grudge:
Here lies Ned Hyde because he died.
If it had been his sister
We should not have missed her.
But would rather it had been his father,
Or for the good of the nation
The whole generation.
Of course, some tell of the person’s demise:
Here lies the bones of Richard Lawton
Whose death alas! Was strangely brought on.
Trying his corns one day to mow off
His razor slipped and cut his toe off.
His toe, or rather, what it grew to
An inflammation quickly flew to.
Which took alas! To mortifying
And was the cause of Richard’s dying.
Here I lie bereft of breath
Because a cough carried me off;
Then a coffin they carried me off in.
This person was not above advertising his work.
Here lies Jane Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, Marble Cutter.
This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory
And a specimen of his work.
Monumets of this same style are two hundred and fifty dollars.
This may have been meant to be taken in a more serious tone;
Ashes to ashes dust to dust
Here lies George Emery I trust.
And when the trump blows louder and louder,
He’ll rise a box of Emery powder.
Or this one:
Here lies the body of Ann Mann,
Who lived and old woman.
And died an old Mann.
The again, someone had to pay the bill for this unfortunate soul, a miser who refused to pay the wages of a physician:
Here lies one who for medicine would not give a little gold, and so his life he lost:
I fancy now he’d wish again to live could he but guess how much his funeral cost.