Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Upon ye Death of Thomas Kendel

Here's a strange one. Once in a while, I'll come across a gravestone with an unconventional epitaph. This 17th-century stone in Wakefield bears no specific date and is arranged in the style of an elegy rather than an epitaph.
MEMENTO TE ESSE MORTALEM

UPON Ye DEATH OF THOMAS KENDEL

HERE IN Ye EARTH IS LAYD ON OF Ye 7 OF THIS CHURCH FOUNDATION
SO TO REMAIEN TEL Ye POWRFUL UOICE SAY RIS INHERIt A GLORIS HABITATION

A PATARN OF PEACE & LOVE & FOR PEACE) HERE WE MOURN & MOURN WE MOUSt
BUt NOW ALAS HOW SHORt THIS RACE) TO SE ZION StONS LIK GOLD NOW LAYD IN DUSt

I have no clue what "layd on of ye 7 of this church foundation" might mean, but that's what the lettering looks like to me. Any guesses?

I can't date this stone precisely, but it has a lot in common with the Richard Kettel stone, which is dated 1680.

4 comments:

acwresearcher said...

I can't say for certain, but the phrase "layd on of ye 7 of this church foundation" might be in reference to deacons in the local congregation. Kendel may have been one. This may refer to the practice of appointing seven deacons in a local assembly as done in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 6. It's just a guess. I am only beginning to do broad research into colonial religious practices.

RJO said...

Ah what delightful connections we can make through gravestones.

That Kendall stone is quoted in Lilley Eaton's 1844 History of Reading (of which Wakefield was originally a part). In particular it is quoted in the epic poem Eaton composed for the Reading bicentennial (and I won't criticize his effort until I can do better myself). It appears that Kendall's wife long outlived him, and not only that, she passed on to her descendants the iron kettle in which she made pudding, and this kettle was dramatically held up for public display as Eaton read his verse aloud to the bicentennial celebrants in 1844. (I bet it's in the Reading historical society to this day.)

But, if you go back one page in the volume you'll see Eaton's verse-paragraph on Deacon Zachary Fitch -- and he would be my 7th great grandfather.

David B. Appleton said...

Another possbility is that he died in the 7th year since that church was established, or founded. It was common for the English to date events, etc. as being in the X year of the reign of a monarch; it may be that here they chose something of more local import as a "year zero".

Christoph said...

Thomas Kendel's gravestone is analyzed in Figures in the carpet by Wilfred McClay. It is online as a Google book:

http://books.google.com/books?id=yfPAncKZnVsC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false