Monday, 18 April 2016
Wasting Away on the Laptop
Having spent much of the weekend watching the Scottish Cup semi finals and wasting much emotion on them at that by Sunday afternoon I was in need of fresh air and sunshine. I strolled through the gardens talking to the pretty girls who flocked around me (oh yes they did!) and eventually landed up in the Congregational churches graveyard.
There, you may be surprised to know, were no young ladies waiting for me, I at least was surprised. The use of this ground for burials I suspect this has gone on since the late 1700's but the oldest stones are worn and it is not possible to make out details. Early 19th century abound but maybe by then tombstones were in fashion and money available. The Puritan work ethic ensured many of those found here came from reasonably well of backgrounds and the fear of grave robbers, the 'Ghouls,' led to many a huge block of stone being erected over the grave. I suspect a wee bit of pride and position may also have helped here.
The yard has many of those who once worshipped in this place including two of the preachers themselves, one of whom lasted a great many years as the minister. One day they will all rise one again to be with the maker who died for them.
They had their troubles. The gravestone above features a lad who died aged eleven, further down is Alfred his brother who managed a mere five months. His mother was the fathers second wife called Elizabeth. The first wife, Mary, having seen five children from her first marriage die before her, along with her brother father and mother, produced two children for her second husband. She attempted to produce another five, and all at one go a few years later and by this time she was in her forties however all five died probably within hours of birth.
It may be she ran away as at the moment all I find indicates she appears to live on and move to the USA where she died in 1802. However her second husband our man John marries again in 1795! He appears to have been a wealthy farmer so I may have to investigate this as it took a court order to get a divorce in those days. Who knows what was going through the heads of the people involved. The second wife by the way was sister to the first!
You think life today is confusing?
The second wife, Mary, produced eleven children, one who died in 1821 buried here and the last, Alfred who lasted five months also here. How many of the others survived is as yet unknown however the stone contains the name Ruth a 'well beloved wife' who died in 1842 aged 35 indicating this was one of her daughters. However it shows that the rich and the poor could produce children, indeed required to do so as the kids needed to survive to look after the old folks but all faced great risks while doing so. This is fine if sufficient money is coming in but even the hard working wealthier families suffered hardships. Bad weather ruined crops and our man John as a farmer could lose heavily this way. Poorer folks suffered when there was no work to pay them and all suffered ill health and little medicine available to help. There are so many sicknesses today we cannot cure what chance those in the early eighteen hundreds?
The early registers of birth marriage and death were looked after in local churches, both Anglican and Non Conformist. The minister lying buried here among his people had the job of filling out the details of every burial and most would be of people he was close to, both young and old. The wear and tear on his heart must have been hard for him and his wife, she too would know them well.
Well that cheery bit of research got very confusing. All those folks getting married, breeding like rabbits, losing one or two here and there and marrying again if need be. The children growing up having similar fortune, not that I have researched them too much - it's getting dark!
Of course the thing I ought to have been researching is sitting here staring daggers at me, I choose to ignore this. I must ignore this and indeed all those other jobs that I ought to have done today. There were quite a lot of those and I suspect I will be busy later this week, unless something comes up.