In Memory of
Should have been the
Wife of Mr.
who died Augst. 14th
1776 in the 64th Year
of her Age.
To make matters worse, Elizabeth's gravestone stands next to a stone dedicated to Lidia Palmer (d.1754), who was the wife of Simeon Palmer. Simeon may be buried nearby, but his grave is not marked.
bicentennial history of Little Compton's First Congregational Church says that Elizabeth and Simeon were married on September 5, 1755.
So what on earth is that epitaph supposed to mean? Even if Elizabeth and Simeon were in love/engaged before he married Lidia, why would it still matter in 1776, after Elizabeth and Simeon had been married for over 20 years? It seems a strange grudge to hold. Perhaps Simeon, who outlived both his wives, was responsible for the epitaph and used the opportunity to apologize to Elizabeth for wronging her.
The whole thing is very strange. Among other things that raise red flags, Elizabeth Mortimer was 11 years older than Simeon Palmer, which certainly isn't outside of the realm of possibility, but would be unusual. Since Simeon married Lidia in 1744, when he was 21 years old, it would mean that any preexisting relationship between Simeon and Elizabeth would be between a very young man and a woman in her 30s. Again, not impossible, but strange for 18th-century New England.
It's just one of those cases where I really wish I could have a 5-minute interview with those involved, just to find out what the heck was going on.