Plaques recording deaths of the Barber family. The earliest are: Sarah, wife of John Barber (died 3 March 1719); Mary and Elizabeth, daughters of Francis and Elizabeth Barber (Mary died 14 January 1739 and Elizabeth died 7 January 1744).
Plaques recording deaths in the Barber family. The earliest are: Sarah, wife of John Barber (died 3 March 1719); Mary and Elizabeth, daughters of Francis and Elizabeth Barber (Mary died 14 January 1739 and Elizabeth died 7 January 1744).


An interesting subject is that of longevity, although I have no knowledge of local centenarians, except that the Parish Register records the burial, 13 March, 1656, of "William Higden, about a hundred years old." It is, however, worthy of note that, nearly a quarter of a century ago, the late vicar compiled a list of nonagenarians buried in Greasley Churchyard from 1848 to 1886. The reverend genttleman's list recorded the sex, age, and number of Greasley nonagenarians, in such years as they chanced to die, but no names. The total cited for the period named was 25, (15 males and 10 females) whose ages ranged from 90 to 98. The only comment that need be made here is in relation to the illustration incidentally afforded as to the comparative fewness of interments monumentally recorded, for only a single one out of the 25 is commemorated. However, with those of earlier and onto, of later date, it will be seem from the appended chronological list that half-a-score examples of nonagenarians figure on the Greasley memorials:—

Elizabeth Bratt (undated, but perhaps somewhere about 1725), aged 94.
Thomas Read, 1758, in his 92nd year,
Robert Clarke, 1792, aged 92.
Martha Sant, 1809, aged 95.
John Annable, 1818, aged 95.
Charles Maltby, 1821. aged 90.
William Sterland,1829, aged 92.
Richard Greensmith, 1840, in his 91st year.
William Brassington, 1875, in his 94th year.
Sarah Hopkinson, 1892, aged 90.

It may be added that the case of the sixth on the above list—Charles Maltby—is commented on in the accompanying rhymes, as follows:—

With successful industry he passed through life.
Attach'd to his children, his friends, and his wife;
And reach'd the advanc'd age of ninety you see,
Having liv'd an example of Oeconomy.

In the eighth instance also, that of Richard Green-smith, the foot-lines furnish the not surprising intimation that he had survived all his own family:—

Now this weary world I leave,
Pale death he doth me call;
And now I go in hopes to meet
My wife and children all.

It has been mentioned that the Greasley inscriptions comprise but few indications of the parts played in life by the deceased. Exceptions to this rule are represented by the 1865 memorial of "the Reverend John Hides, vicar of Greasley, and 51 years minister of the parish"; and that of "William Hides, of Watnall School," 1824. Specially interesting is the inscription to Benjamin Drawwater, for we are told that "in his professional duty he accompanied the Great Circumnavigator Cook in the years 1772-1775." Of Joseph Gelstharp, who died in 1800, it is recorded that "his skill in mechanics was excellent, and he was particularly famed for constructing and improving the plough." The following apposite limes over Johnson Marlow, 1829, definitely refer to a military career:—

When I was young in wars I shed my blood,
Both for my King and for my Countrys good;
In older years my care was chief to be
Soldier to him who shed his blood for me.

The next extract, occurring over George Lee, who died in 1819, aged [19], clearly chronicles a coalmining fatality:—

Take warning by my fate Ye Miners all.
And be prepar'd for Death's tremendous call;
Tho' now in perfect health and youthful bloom,
You may be brought to an untimely Tomb!
By damp, foul air, or fatal fall, like me,
Receive the summons to Eternity!!!


In the present class of records may likewise be placed the following strained rhymes from a Gilborn stone, 1855:—

A faithful Parent slumbers here,
A Father, and a Friend sincere;
With energy and courage fervent
Was 60 years a faithful and trusty servant.

Though not otherwise relevant, it may be mentioned that the like period of time occurs in the verse on an 18th century Banner stone, as follows:—

Near Sixty Years we lived Man and Wife,
In Various Changes of a Worldly Life;
Now we are gone the Change by far more Great,
We Mercy Hope at the Great Judgment Seat.


A plentitude of rhyming effusions, of many and varied types, are available for perusal in Greasley Churchyard. It is probably needless to premise that the standard of poetic excellence attained is the reverse of high, insomuch as ungrammatical construction, incoherency, and doggerel are rampant. This circumstance, however, does not detract from their interest, even to the serious reader, and, moreover, they were no doubt understood, or sufficiently understood, by those to whom they were addressed, and hence may be presumed to have served their end. One is insensibly reminded of the passage in Gray's "Elegy":—

Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply;
And many a holy text around she strews
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

As the present writer has otherwise exhausted his stock of memoranda on and from Greasley Churchyard, a representative selection from the wealth of graven rhymes may perhaps find acceptance among readers. With the last-quoted verse, referring to lengthy wedded life, the three following examples have something in common:—

We joined was in mutual Love,
And so we did remain;
Till parted were by God above,
But hopes to meet again.

Two of the best of friend; are dead,
And they have laid them here;
Tread lightly on their hallow'd bed,
For death hath made it dear

Hear in one grave we both are laid,
Our daughter by our side,
Lood unto God our Children dear,
All you were left behind.

Relations of domestic bereavement are naturally numerous, the two following exemplifying survivors' versions:

The Best of Wife's this Grave Encloses here,
A tender Mother and a Friend Sincere;
Great is our Loss, but her Eternal Gain,
With joy in Christ, we hope to meet again.

My dear husband now has gone to his rest,
He has reached his abode in the land of the blest;
His illness was short, his sufferings severe,
But God has removed him from his miseries here.
An affectionate husband and kind father was he,
But it pleased the Lord to remove him from me;
Still I hope when the troubles of this life are o'er,
I shall meet him in heaven to part no more.

Much more frequently, however, are survivors' narratives dispensed with in favour of adieux, consolations, and admonishments supposed to be enunciated by the deceased, as in the following cases:—

Farewell Husband and Children dear,
The Lord your Soul and Spirits cheer;
'Twas you on Earth alone was my delight,
But now my Soul has taken flight.
To such a Heavenly place my glass is run,
Where you and all the world may come.

Farewell my dear husband, my children, my friends,
Till we meet in that mansion where bliss never ends;
Regret not a loss which has eas'd me from pain,
And transferr'd me to blessings eternal to gain.

Farewell dear husband and children too,
All in my power I did for you;
The Lord for you and children will provide,
And be to you a constant guide.

Farewell dear wife and loving children too,
No more on earth I never can dwell with you;
Sudden I was called away and leave a world of sin,
To meet a loving Saviour who died to take me in.
Then cease dear partner; cease to weep : dry up your tears,
Till we shall meet again in heaven.

Weep not for me, my wife and children dear,
I am not dead, but sleeping here;
Come to my grave, where you may see,
That shortly you must follow me.
My wife dear, and children too,
Be ready when God calls for you.

The blunt warning conveyed by the middle lines of the foregoing is by no means softened in the following :—

My Infants dear my loving Wife,
Parents and Friends adieu;
Christ call'd me hence in prime of life,
E'er long he'll send for you.

The reader will scarcely need to be informed that throughout these quotations I have adhered to the (in a double sense) original orthography, and he will have incidentally perceived that their grammatical and literary shortcomings are far from few or slight. A similar type of rhymes to the foregoing is thus quaintly rendered on an earlier memorial:—

Weep not my Friends that I lie buried here,
You'l follow me e'er long: Your only Care,
Should be to lead a godly Life, and then,
To Happiness in Heav'n you'l rise again.

In others of the rhymes, the variant attitude of philosophical resignation is adopted, the following being one of the few better-class compilations—no doubt a quotation:—

O, why should the voice of affection deplore thee?
Thy heart-rending sorrows of nature are o'er;
The clouds of adversity ne'er shall come o'er thee,
The darts of affliction shall wound thee no more.
Thou art gone to the land where no trouble or sorrow,
Can ever thy peace or thy pleasure annoy;
Where no anxious thought of the care-bringing morrow,
Can ever the Joy of the moment destroy.

Here are a few further examples of Greasley churchyard-philosophy:—

Bless'd are those in Jesus dead,
Sweet their Slumber, soft their Bed;
Silly are we for such to weep,
They are not dead, but gone to sleep.

What tho' our inbred Sins require
Our Flesh must turn to Dust;
Yet as the Lord our Saviour rose,
So all his Followers must.

Cease then frail nature to lament in vain,
Reason forbids to wish them back again;
Rather congratulate their happy fate,
And their advancement to a glorious state.

Mourn not thy sister's early bier,
Tis but the mortal part lies here,
She's gone above:
She's free from sickness, grief, and pain,
And now in sweet seraphic strain,
She sings redeeming love.

May we from hence this one thing needful learn,
To make our deathless souls our first concern;
To live as Christians while we here remain,
That death may prove our ever eternal gain.

The following verse, of a kindred type, being placed over a man named Adam Nowell, is not entirely absolved from the suspicion of playing upon the name:

Ev'n as in Adam all must die,
And therefore find a Grave;
Ev'n so in Christ shall live again,

Who mighty is to save.

Here is a variant type:—

Don't fix your rest Creation cries,
Among created things;
There's no content or real joy,
But what from Jesus springs.