Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lost Plague Graves and Burials - by William Wood 1842

The following are extracts from William Wood's Antiquities and History of Eyam dated 1842:

It has been observed by some writers that Riley, or Riley-graves, was the general burial place of the victims of the plague; this is, however, a mistake: none was buried there but the Talbots and Hancocks.

Lost Graves
One hundred and seventy-six years have now transpired since this dreadful visitation; and many of the stones which told of the calamities of Eyam, have been destroyed. In order that the future inhabitants of Eyam may be enabled to point out most of the places where the ashes of the sufferers repose, I shall describe all the places where stones have been known to exist; where bones and bodies have been found; and where the still existing few memorials may be seen.

In the Cossy-dell there were, about fifty years ago, two or three grave-stones to the memory of a portion, or the whole, of a family of the name of  Ragge; and the Register mentions four persons of that name who died of the plague. These stones have either been broken or carried away.

At the Shepherds-Flat some stones existed until very lately, to the memories of the Mortins and Kempes; two families who perished by the plague, with the solitary exception of one individual.  These memorials, after having marked for more than a century and a half, the precise places where the mortal remains of the sufferers of Shepherds-Flat were deposited, have been destroyed by some late barbarian occupants of that secluded place.

Bretton, about a mile north of Eyam, was visited by the plague ; and a many grave-stones once recorded the names of those who died. A few still remain. The victims were of the families of Mortin, Hall, and Townsend.  One of these sufferers was buried in Bretton-Clough, and a round stone still covers the grave, but without any inscription.

In Eyam-edge some gravestones were once seen near to the house now belonging to Mr. I. Palfreyman; but they have disappeared long ago.

Behind, or rather at the westend of some dwellings, now recognised as the Poorhouses, one or two of these stones which are said to have recorded the deaths of some persons of the name of Whitely, have been of late demolished.

In a field adjoining the back part of the house occupied by Mr. J. Rippon, Eyam, one of these "melancholy tablets of mortality" once existed.

That part of Eyam called the Townend was, about eighty years ago, bestrewed with these calamitous memoranda. Some have served for the flooring of houses and barns; while others have been broken up for numerous purposes.

The house and barn contiguous to the Miners' Arms Inn was built on a small plot of ground which contained the unconsecrated graves of a whole family at least. The stones which commemorated the untimely fate of these sufferers were sacrilegiously broken when the present building was erected.

A piece of waste land at the east end of the village, now forming a part of Slinn's Croft, must, from the number of monumental stones it once contained, have been the general place of interment for a many families. Some of these humble tablets were inscribed with a single H; probably the initial of Heald: the name of a family of whom a many perished. This brief and simple inscription is, however, equally as applicable to two other families of the names of Halksworth and Hadfield, who might inter their deceased members in this place. One of these stones, still existing, is to the memory of a woman of the name of Talbot; and others were commemorative of many other persons of various names.

Remaining Graves in 1842:—
Besides Mrs. Mompesson's tomb there is another in the church-yard, but the inscription is now obliterated; yet I believe it was erected to the memory of a person of the name of Rowland, who died of the plague.

In a field behind the church, known as Blackwells Edge-field, there are two stones with the following inscriptions :—" Margaret Teyler, 1656;" (1666?) "Alies Teyler, 1666."

In a field adjoining Froggatt's factory, there is an old dilapidated tabular tomb, with H. M. inscribed on one end. These letters are the initials of Humphrey Merril, who was buried there on the 9th of September, 1666.

In the parson's field, in the Lydgate, Eyam Townend, two gravestones are laid nearly parallel to each other, containing the following records :—«* Here lye buried George Darby, who dyed July 4th, 1666;" "Mary, the daughter of George Darby, dyed September 4th, 1666." The house in which this family dwelt is supposed to have been contiguous to their graves.

A stone in the possession of Mr. John Slinn, of the King's Arms Inn, Eyam, has the following inscription: "Briget Talbot, Ano. Dom. 1666".  The stone was found in a small piece of ground, now forming part of Slinn's croft. 

Human Remains
Several human skeletons and other remains of the victims of the plague have been discovered in various parts of the village. In making some alterations in some buildings opposite the school, about twenty years ago, three skulls and other bones were found.

On making the new road from the Dale to the Townend, fifteen years ago, a human skeleton, lying at full length, was found in a garden.
An old house, opposite the Church, was pulled down a few years ago, when a human skeleton was found under the parlour floor. Two or three grave-stones, which had in part paved the same room, were destroyed at the same time. A very many persons can recollect having seen the stones, but all have forgot the particular inscriptions.
In an old house on the Cross, now occupied by J. Wilson, miller, some human bones were found in removing part of the kitchen floor.
There was a grave-stone, if not some part of a human skeleton, once found in a field which is now called Phillip's sitch.
In a cleft of the rocks in the dale side, some bones were found. 
In the Dale, very near the Hanging Fat, some bones have been dug up.

There is no doubt whatever, that the remains of the plague's victims are scattered far and wide in and around the village.


Charlotte said...

How do i find the graves of Margaret Teylor and Alies Teylor? I have been looking for them and i can never find them. Please can someone help me out. :)

Ruth Roberts said...

Charlotte - I shall post on the Eyam Facebook page for you to see if we can get an answer.