Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gravestone of the Day: Thomas Bancroft

Thomas Bancroft, 1718, Wakefield, MA

Here Lyes the Body
of Deacon THOMAS
The Curch of Reding
in the Office of a Dec
Aged 69 Years Who
Deceased June ye 12th, 1718
One Earth He Purchised a good Degre
Grte Boldness in ye faith & liberty
And Now Poseseth Imortality
The Memory of the Just is Blssed.

This epitaph is kind of a mess. It's squished into the available space, the lines are all different sizes, the spelling is funky, and the composition is inelegant. That's somewhat unusual for the Lamson shop — their epitaphs are usually planned out pretty well. Compare to this stone, which has similar iconography, carved by the Lamson shop in 1717.


Peter Fisk said...

This is the Lt. Bancroft mentioned by Cotton Mather in Magnalia Christi Americana, Volume 2 in an account of a battle with Indians, beginning on Page 525. Also see Page 32, where his recovery from smallpox is portrayed as a manifestation of divine prophesy.

He was my 8g-grandfather. His father was the Lt. Thomas Bancroft who had served with Capt. Jonathan Poole, and this younger Thomas Bancroft married Poole's daughter Sarah. The elder Thomas Bancroft's gravestone is depicted in the Farber Collection.

Peter Fisk said...

(The senior Bancroft's stone was an earlier Lamson work.)

Robert J. said...

I wondered if the use of the word "liberty" was at all unusual for this time. We expect to see it in epitaphs around the Revolution, but was it in common gravestone use in 1718?

A quick search turns up this same verse on a stone in Newbury from 1704. Perhaps it has a literary source that could be discovered.