History, grad school, and gravestones!
It's fascinating to see the differences even within a relatively small area of southern New England. A lot of your daily gravestones lately have been incised designs with little or no relief or sculptural work. There's very little of that here in Newport; from 1705 on, and especially after 1715 when John Stevens 1 got his carving lessons from the "Boston Master", the stonecarving industry here was stylistically dominated by the Stevens Shop. There are some primitive, barely-scratched-on-the-stone gravestones here (the few known "Coggeshall Carver" and the early John Stevens 1 stones), but most of the 18th Century stones here are full of 3-dimensional carving. Even the surviving 17th Century stones (I can think of at least a dozen carved by William Mumford in town) are sculptural rather than simply incised. So it's fascinating to see these incised stones.
Beautiful lettering, by a skilled, confident hand. Other details are striking, the heart on the chin of the skull being one. She was 18 when she died according to the genealogy below. And the Mrs. is another possible error.http://www.tributaries.us/secondsite/founders2-o/p2458.htmJoanna/3p BrooksF, #24573, (5 September 1695 - 26 March 1779) Joanna/3p Brooks was born 5 Sep 1695 at Scituate, MA, and there baptised the same year at the Second Church.1,2 She married, 26 Oct 1720 at Scituate, Dea. John/4 Ruggles of Roxbury, son of John/3 Ruggles.3 Her husband succeeded to the farm of her father Thomas Brooks, which, Deane wrote in 1831, "lies a half mile east of the residence of William above described. It was the farm of William Richards 1640."4 Her name appears on a list of Second Church members, 13 Nov 1751.5 Dea. John Ruggles died 5 Dec 1772.6 Joanna died 26 Mar 1779 (g.s.) at age 83.7 They are buried in South Parish Cemetery, Norwell (formerly South Scituate).8Family Dea. John/4 Ruggles b. 8 Mar 1696/97, d. 5 Dec 1772Children * Thomas/4p Ruggles9 b. 31 Jul 1721, d. 10 May 1740 * Hannah/4p Ruggles10 b. 22 Jun 1723, d. 9 Apr 1742 * Grace/4p Ruggles11 b. 11 Sep 1725 * John/4p Ruggles12 b. 10 Sep 1727, d. 24 Mar 1728 * Dea. John/4p Ruggles+13 b. 13 Jun 1729, d. 12 May 1812 * Sarah/4p Ruggles14 b. 22 May 1731
I think that the Mrs. is probably an abbreviation of "mistress," which was still a term of respect for respectable unmarried ladies in the 18th century. It would be very rare for a married woman's gravestone to lack the name of her husband, so you are right in noting that she was unmarried.I like the Vinal stones a lot. Those squiggly, long-tailed 7s are wonderful.
If you look carefully at the "2" in 1742, note the triangular shaped serf at the end of the number, at end of the stroke if you were writing it by hand. Then compare it to the "2" in her age and you'll see they're quite different. Also, look at the "9" above the her age and you'll see the carver doesn't close the loop in the number and this is probably the same for the supposed "2" in the age, meaning it's probably an "8" after all. The lower part of the number is no longer visible due to the degraded surface of the stone.Also, when I said in my first post the lettering was by a confident hand, what I really meant was there is a kind of exuberance in the execution of his letters and other details that reflects a joy in his work. In other words, this guy liked carving stone. And he was an artist.
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