Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Aprel!

This is a strange and interesting gravestone. It is dedicated to Roger Baster/Baxter, who was one of the first members of the Seventh-Day Sabbatarian Baptist Church in Newport.

As far as I can tell, a literate person with little prior experience carving stone gouged the epitaph as best he could out of a semi-finished slab of local stone. According to Vincent Luti, there was no professional stonecarver working in Newport in the 1680s — the surviving pre-1700 gravestones in Newport were imported from Boston and (perhaps) England. Is this the oldest surviving stone in the Newport Common Burying Ground that was actually produced in Newport?

HERE LYETH THE BODY
OF ROGER BASTER
BACHELOR BLOCK MACKR
AGED 66 YERES HE DYED
23 DAY OF APREL 1687
HE WAS ONE OF THE FI
RST BEGINERS OF A CHU
RCH OF CHRIST OBSURVING
OF THE 7TH DAY SAB
BATH OF THE LORD IN
N E AND BEGAN 23 DIS 1671

2 comments:

RJO said...

I recently came across the beautiful font Mantinia, designed by Matthew Carter, which would be just the thing for transcribing some of the 17th century stones that make heavy use of TH, HE, and other special ligatures. (Mantinia was intended to simulate stone carving.) This Newport carver uses some of these ligatures; I see he also uses interesting things like a reversed N.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

This is great. I've never seen a modern font with the ligatures before.

It looks like Mantinia includes the rune version of thorn — if it only included the early modern version, it would be perfect for transcribing epitaphs in all caps.

Though, I suppose a reversed N is too much to hope for.