Some Selections From “Here Lies” A Book About Graveyard Epitaphs
This book from 1900 whose full title is: Here Lies: Being a Collection of Ancient & Modern, Humorous and Queer Inscriptions from Tombstones compiled and edited by W.H. Howe, published by The New Amsterdam Book Company contains 197 pages of fascinating epitaphs, mostly from Great Britain. It was originally published in England in 1891 as Everybody’s Book of Epitaphs.
It’s difficult to believe that hundreds of years ago people were this creative about their own demise. Probably in many cases it was the friends and relatives of the deceased who were responsible for these final words etched in stone. Do you know what you would want written as your epitaph?
Here are a few of the better ones from this out of print gem:
Stephen RemnantHere’s a Remnant of life, and a Remnant of death, Taken off both at once in a remnant of breath; To mortality this gives a happy release, For what was a Remnant proves now the Whole piece.
Mr. Edward Pardon (a bookseller)Here lies poor Ned Pardon, from misery freed, Who long was a booksellers hack; He led such a damnable life in this world, I don’t think he’ll ever come back.
John BerryHow! How! who’s buried here? John Berry. Isn’t the younger? No the elder-Berry. An elder-Berry buried? surely must Rather rise up and live, than turn to dust. So may our Berry, whom stern death has slain, Be only buried to rise up again.
Thomas HuddlestoneHere lies Thomas Huddleston. Reader, don’t smile! But reflect as this tombstone you view That death, who kill’d him, in a very short while Will huddle a stone upon you.
In Sevenoaks Churchyard KentGrim death took me without any warning I was well at night, and died in the morning.
From Shoreditch ChurchyardWe must all die, there is no doubt; Your glass is running- mine is out.
In Exeter CathedralHere lies the Body of Captain Tully Aged an hundred and nine years fully; And threescore years before, as Mayor, The sword of this city he did bear; Nine of his wives do with him lie, So shall the tenth when she doth die.
In a Churchyard near WarwickPoorly lived And poorly died Poorly buried And no one cried.
From WorcestershireHere lies a poor woman Who was always tired, For she lived in a house Where help was not hired. Her last words were: “Dear friends, I am going Where washing ain’t done, Nor sweeping, nor sewing! “And everything there Is exact to my wishes: For where they don’t eat, There’s no washing of dishes. “I’ll be where loud anthems Will always be ringing, But having no voice, I’ll get clear o’ the singing. “Don’t mourn for me now- Don’t mourn for me never- I’m going to do nothing Forever and ever!”
From Wolstanton on Annie JenningsSome have children, some have none; Here lies the mother of twenty-one.
In Burlington Churchyard, MassachusettsSacred to the memory of Anthony Drake, Who died for peace and quietness sake; His wife was constantly scolding and scoffin’, So he sought for repose in a twelve-dollar coffin.
Owen MooreOwen Moore is gone away. Owin’ more than he could pay.
From a churchyard near LondonStop, reader! I have left a world In which there was a world to do; Fretting and stewing to be rich - Just such a fool as you.
Johnnie ScottBeneath this stone lies Johnnie Scott Who lived like a fool and died like a sot, But it is needless to argue Whether he was so or not; He as a man was despised, And soon will be forgot.
From Bath AbbeyHere lies Ann Mann; She lived an old Maid and she died an old Mann.
In Bellington Churchyard, DurhamPoems and epitaphs are but stuff; Here lies Robert Burrows, that’s enough.