Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gravestone of the Day: William Grimes

William Grimes, 1766, Lexington, MA
Here lies the
Body of Mr. William
Grimes who died
November 3d 1766
In the 60th year
of his age

I find this stone puzzling because there seems to be a disconnect between the borders and the lettering. The letters are much more straight and rigid than the fluid lines of the borders, and borders appear to be of a much older design than the stated date. The iconography looks very much like the carving coming out of the Lamson shop in the 1710s.

Compare this stone to the Margaret Leverett stone (1716, Cambridge, MA):

See also the William Wyer stone (1709, Charlestown, MA. Also, I know I've seen that face before, but I can't quite place it and Farber is failing me.

Could this stone be a copy of an earlier style? Or an old, left-over blank someone found sitting in the shop 40 years after it was made?


Robert J. said...

Your stylistic intuition is becoming very sharp -- well done. This stone is mentioned by Forbes (p. 14) as an example of a stone that was probably reused:

"In Lexington, the stone of William Grimes, 1766, is in the very early style of the Lamsons, signed, as Caleb Lamson did fifty years before, 'C.L.' He was living when William Grimes died and may have sold an early specimen of hia work, but more likely the stone had already done duty for one generation and was smoothed over and relettered for another. Here, too, the erasure is very well done, but the figure '8' under the 'N' in November is a bit suspicious and a careful examination shows other traces of the earlier inscription."

I knew of it myself only because this William Grimes is my 5th-great uncle; two of his sisters, Elizabeth and Sarah, married two Fitch brothers, Zechariah and Joseph, and one of those pairs leads to me. Going in the other direction is more interesting in this case, however, as this William was the son of another William and a grandson of George Grimes of Lexington. George Grimes appears to be one of a rather small group of immigrants who came to New England in the 1670s, well after the Puritan migration, by way of Nevis in the West Indies. He was presumably an indentured servant, but what the terms and circumstances of his migration by that route were I don't know. It's something I'd like to learn more about.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

I'm glad to hear that my eye is getting sharp, but maybe I should go re-read Forbes to save myself some time!