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HISTORY OF HEADSTONES
By Cara Links
As well as giving birth and death details epitaphs have been used for other purposes.
Lord Byron ( 1788-1824) counselled never to believe "an epitaph, or any other thing that's false'. And Alexander Pope ( 1688-1744) cursed those who "taught epitaphs to lie".
Epitaphs have been used for propaganda and none more blatant than that in the graveyard of the Covenanting Meeting House at Baillies Mill Drumbeg Co Down, on the tomb of William Graham of Creevy who died 1828, aged 63.
He wrote these lines for his tombstone to justify his position.
*First I leave my testimony against all the errors of Popery, which constitute the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition.Whom my Lord shall destroy by the brightness of His Coming.*
Secondly: *Against Prelacy now set on the throne of Britain,which shall shortly fall like Dagon by the sword of Him who sits on the white horse. For this end, Oh thou Mighty God, gird they sword upon thy thigh, and thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things.
Thirdly:-* I testify against all who deal falsely in the cause of Christ; all who own the Covenant National and Solemn League, and yet sware allegiance to the support of Prelacy. Oh Lord, to Thee and rule the Nations, and destroy these two great Idols , Popery and Prelacy, with that rod of Iron Thou hast received from Thy Father.
Lastly;-* I Testify against all opposers of the Covenanted cause, all who have departed from Reformation, and I die giving my full approbation of that cause, for which the Martyrs suffered, and which they sealed with their blood.
Arise, Oh Lord, and plead thy own cause.
Graham was a fanatical supporter of the Covenanting cause- those pledged to uphold the Presbyterian faith against prelacy and popery - and cites the smiting of Dagon.
Dagon was once of the gods of the Phoenician creation legend.
Dates on an epitaph may well be the only clue before 1863 that shows when your ancestor may have died as it was not compulsory to register a death before that date.
An assessment from epitaphs shows that during the years 1831-1841 in Ireland merchants and prosperous folk could hope to live to 55-60 years and the poor expired at 35-40 years.
A History Of Irish Headstones part 4 by Cara Links
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Ancestors At Rest reminds you that when looking for death records for your family tree online to be careful when spelling interment. It's not intermet, internment, inturnment or internmet. Another common one is cemetery, not cemetary or cematary.
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Helpful Articles, Free Genealogy Stuff, Order Death Records Online, VitalChek Express Service order Birth and Death Records online, and Links to Great Genealogy Sites Like The USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project, Cemetery Database on Rootsweb, Ancestry.com and so much more.
Did you know....
Genealogy is the study of family pedigrees, the descent of a person or family from an ancestor, generation by generation.