Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Desiah Harlow

I've been reading Benjamin Drew's transcriptions of the epitaphs from Burial Hill in Plymouth, MA. This one caught my eye:

Clearly, this person's name is "Desire Harlow." Yet, on her husband's stone, the carver spelled it Desiah. I'll check this out next time I'm in Plymouth.

3 comments:

David B. Appleton said...

Sounds to me like the carver spelled it the way someone pronounced it to him (in that portion of the country where one can "pahk" the "cah"). Just as in one colonial record, where a Forbes immigrant from Scotland pronounced his name and the clerk wrote it down as heard (through his apparently thick Gaelic accent): Farrabas.

Graham said...

I don't think that the woman mentioned in the last epitaph is the same Desire Harlow mentioned in the first two, regardless of whether there is a typo, or whatever the confusion is. First, the last epitaph identifies a "Miss Desire Harlow" which suggests that it is here maiden name, where as the other epitaphs are referring to a "Mr.s Harlow." But the real evidence lies in the fact that Mrs. Harlow's sons died in 1767 and 1775, which suggests that they were probably born before those years. Miss Harlow was born in 1797, and clearly could not have birthed the boys who are apparently her brothers.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

You're right, Graham — I just included that to show that "Desire" was the name passed down in the family.

There are many examples of these r-less spelling variations in New England — the most common one I've seen is "depated".

There are also epitaphs that spell names that end in vowels with an extra r on the end:
Marther Stone
Alletherr Grosvenor
Annar Lawrence