Tag Archives: gravestone

Wordless Wednesday: Waiting in the shadows

23 May

Waiting in the shadows: Henfield Church, West Sussex (13th April 2009)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Trower (1793-1855)

22 May

It has been a long time since I wrote a Tombstone Tuesday blog post, but yesterday’s newspaper article prompted me to think some more about William Trower and his wife Mary who were the victims of the crime.

Headstone of Mary Trower (1793-1855) Henfield, Sussex, England

This is the headstone for my 4x great-grandmother Mary, the wife of William Trower. The church in the background is St. Peter’s Church in Henfield, Sussex. Mary was buried on the 8th November 1855, her husband died nearly twenty years later and presumably he is buried in the same grave, although his death is not mentioned on the headstone.

The inscription is not particularly clear on the photo or on the actual stone, the lower part of the stone has a quotation which I don’t have a record of, but the top half reads:

SACRED
TO THE MEMORY OF
MARY WIFE OF
WILLIAM TROWER
WHO DIED NOV 3RD 1855
AGED 63 YEARS

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Carved in stone, but that doesn’t make it correct

24 Dec

On Monday I wrote about John FAIRS, my 4x great-grandfather. I mentioned that his headstone records that he died on the 11th March 1846 and that the parish register recorded that he was buried on the same day.

I was rather suspicious of this, it seemed plausible that he died and was buried on the same day but it seemed unlikely and incredibly efficient of all the people involved, including the people who had to dig the grave.

A much more likely explanation was that one of the records was wrong, either the wrong date had been carved on the headstone or the officiating minister had recorded the wrong date in the burial register.

Given that John died aged only 41 years I felt that there could be an interesting story behind his death, so I decided it would be worth ordering a copy of his death certificate. I was astonished to receive the certificate in the post today, having only ordered it on Monday evening (excellent service from the GRO and the Royal Mail).

The certificate revealed the truth, John FAIRS died on the 7th March 1846 not the 11th March, so the inscription on his headstone is wrong.

Disappointingly the cause of death was not very exciting, the cause given is “Acute Gastritis 48 hours” according to Wikipedia Gastritis is “an inflammation of the lining of the stomach”. Not particularly exciting or unusual, Wikipedia does also say that “the main acute causes are excessive alcohol consumption”, so maybe it was alcohol that caused his premature death?

Regardless of the cause of his death, this story does prove one thing, even if it is carved in stone it is not necessarily true.

Tombstone Tuesday: Edward GASSON

20 Apr

This is the reason I went to Nuthurst, Sussex last week, to check the monumental inscription for Edward GASSON. I don’t really know anything more about Edward GASSON other than what is provided on the headstone.

Headstone of Edward GASSON

I have found him living at Monks Common in Nuthurst in the 1851 census, with his wife Mary. He gives his place of birth as Charlwood, Surrey and he is a farmer of 80 acres, employing three labourers.

He is probably the son of Edward and Elizabeth GASSON of Charlwood, and Edward senior is probably the son of John and Ann GASSON my 5x great-grandparents. Obviously more work is needed on Edward’s ancestry so I can confidently place him in my tree.

Tombstone Tuesday: Ruth TROWER

30 Mar

Last week I showed you an invoice, which I believe was for the headstone of Ruth TROWER. The photograph below is of the headstone itself.

Headstone of Ruth TROWER

The photo was taken by myself on the 18th August 2007 in the churchyard of Christ Church, Sayers Common, Sussex. Ruth TROWER was my 3x great-aunt, one of the sisters of my 2x great-grandfather Ebenezer TROWER.

Tombstone Tuesday: Dorothy May TROWER

9 Mar

This is a Tombstone Tuesday post with a difference. I mentioned on Sunday that I had found the burial place of Dorothy May TROWER (née BATEMAN) my great-grandmother. The reason that I hadn’t found it sooner was because there is no headstone.

I already knew that Dorothy was buried in the churchyard at Sayers Common, Sussex from the memorial card pictured below, but didn’t know exactly where.

In loving memory of Dorothy May TROWER

As you can see Dorothy died in 1916 aged just 27 years old. She left her husband of less than five years with two daughters, Dorothy Annie (not yet four years old) and Eleanor May (under six months old). It is my belief that is was Dorothy’s death that prevented (or saved) her husband Henry John TROWER having to serve in the First World War, but I have no proof of this yet.

Dorothy’s exact burial place was revealed on a plan of Sayers Common Churchyard at West Sussex Record Office (WSRO PAR 478/7/8). The catalogue description for the plan was not very inspiring, something along the lines of “Plan of burial ground of Christchurch, Sayers Common”. I have often looked at the entry and wondered what the plan actually showed.

The plan itself is about one metre square and was marked with the outline of the church (before it’s extension) , the paths and boundaries and most importantly burial plots. The plots were laid out in a grid like pattern, with the rows labelled by letters.

Some of the plots had names written in them, some were readable, some weren’t. There was a variety of handwriting, ink and legibility. I checked the area of the churchyard where the known TROWER headstones are and next to them in rather blurred writing was the name Dorothy May TROWER. It wasn’t clear, but unmistakably the name of my great-grandmother.

I couldn’t believe that I had actually found her resting place, to be honest it wasn’t something I had been looking for, which made the discovery all the more rewarding. There was also the thrill that comes from knowing that I was probably the only family member that knew where she was buried.

I have been there many times, photographing the graves and cleaning them up, but had never known my great-grandmother had been laid to rest so close to the rest of the family.

The exact location is shown in the photo below (taken in last June). Dorothy May TROWER is buried between the grave in the top-left (Ruth TROWER) and the double grave in the top-right (not my family) behind the one in the middle (Mabel Annie TROWER).

Sayers Common Churchyard

Gravestone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS

5 Mar

This should be a Tombstone Tuesday post, but I couldn’t wait that long. Today I finally located the headstone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS, my 3x great-grandparents.

Gravestone of Mary Ann and John FAIRS As you can see it is not in great condition, it is at the eastern end of the churchyard at Henfield, Sussex, and on previous visits I have not been able to find it because that section of the churchyard has been overgrown. The photo below shows what it was like in June last year, the headstone is in the section on the left-hand side.

Henfield Churchyard

I knew if I was patient the grass would die back over winter, rather than me having to trample my way through. The problem was that it has been so wet and cold that I have not been able to get there until now.

I should add that I did have some help finding it. The churchyard had previously been transcribed for the Sussex Family History Group, so I already had a transcription of the headstone, but that wasn’t the same as seeing it for myself.

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