Monday, May 25, 2009

What's Her Name Again?

Eighteenth-century epitaphs dedicated to women, children, and slaves often speak of the layers of dependency that bound the deceased to their husbands, parents, and masters. Adult, free, white men are very rarely identified by their relationships to others, but women are nearly always called "wife of . . ." or "daughter of . . ."

This Norwich, CT stone takes this idea to an unusual extreme — the names of "Simeon Warterman's Wife & Child" are not specified.
Here is Buried Mr Simeon
Wartermans Wife & Child
Who Died May 30th 1764 in
ye 21st year of her age,
Altho Death Desolved ye uni
on Betwen them nipt him in
the Topmost Bow, in the heigh[t]
of his Filisity, yet Comfort Re
mains in ye foloing Epitaph
Silent She lies Here in this Place
And so to Rest Till CHRIST Shall
Come To Raise her Dust & Crown
that Grace; Which in her
Life so Nobly Shone
J Manning

The spelling of "Warterman" is also a nice little indicator of how 18th-c Connecticutians may have pronounced "water."

Mrs. Waterman and her baby aren't the only nameless subordinates commemorated on Connecticut gravestones — this 19th-century stone from Hanover, Connecticut is dedicated to "A Niece of Benjamin Franklin." Charming.

1 comment:

Robert J. said...

Mrs. Warterman appears to have been the former Hannah Barker (more here). After she died Samuel seems to have left sad Norwich behind and headed for the New York frontier.