I have since discovered a gravestone that might challenge this dating: the Charles Pratt Marston stone in Burlington.
Young Charlie was only nine months old when he died in 1775, but his epitaph imagines him as a participant in international politics:
In Memory of
CHARLES PRATT MARSTON
An Infant Son of
John Marston Esqr and Mrs. Elizath. Marston
He died Octr. 20th 1775 aged 9 Months:
While British Forces held his native Town.
Here rest sweet Babe! . . . nor know the Cares of Life;
Nor taste vain Hope; nor bear tumultuous strife;
Serene Repose, thy precious Dust shall find,
Til re:united to thy blissful Mind;
Then shalt thou rise; where dwells Immortal Love
And with great CAMDEN live in brightest Realms above.
Lord Camden a great friend to America & after
whom the Child was nam'd.
First of all, how much do I love an epitaph that comes with its own footnote? We covered annotation with the undergrads in class recently, so I was tickled to see this note. Just in case the reader didn't follow the debates over the Stamp Act in Parliament too closely, this public monument will instruct him/her in identifying America's friends.
The major problem is the reference to Charles Pratt (Lord Camden) in the verse. It is a bit ambiguous, but I tend to think that it implies that Camden was already dead when this epitaph was composed. Yet, Camden did not die until 1794.
So, either this stone was carved after 1794 (nearly 20 years after the baby's death), or the verse does not mean that Lord Camden is deceased. I suppose that you could read it as saying that both Lord Camden and his namesake will go to heaven after the Judgment, in which case, Camden need not be dead yet.
An analysis of the carving style supports an earlier date (c. 1775). The Farber Collection identifies this stone as the work of Henry Christian Geyer, a prolific carver best known for the Susanna Jayne stone in Marblehead (1776). Farber has 134 pictures of stones carved by Henry Christian Geyer, but only a few are for stones dated after 1780 — the latest is 1785 and Geyer died in 1790. Furthermore, many of the elements found on the Charles Pratt Marston stone are visible on other stones with mid-1770s dates:
- Jeremiah Adams, 1772 (seashell, bottom center)
- Thomas Crawford, 1773 (seashell, similar lettering)
- Peter Roberts, 1775 (similar soul effigy)
What do you think? Was the Charles Pratt Marston stone have been carved in 1775? Or is it a post-1794 creation? Opinions on this matter are much appreciated.