Whitehaven’s Gravestones.

If, like me, you enjoy reading gravestone inscriptions then Whitehaven will not disappoint. I like to read the names, ages and family connections. Whitehaven’s gravestones are particularly interesting because often the places where people died reveal the trade and history of the town.

The tombstone above is a point in case. Jeremiah Pattinson died aged 36 in 1755 followed by his wife Jane almost thirty years later in 1783 aged 67. So far nothing very unusual. It is their son, Joseph, who raises interest. He died aged 34 in 1783, the same year as his mother. He was seven when his father died. Again not so unusual, but Joseph died in Madeira. From Whitehaven to Madeira was a huge distance in the 18th century, over one and a half thousand miles, and given that Whitehaven was a bustling port at this time, this indicates he was possibly a sailor or a trader/importer. Sadly, Joseph and his mother died within two days of each other all those miles apart so neither will have been able to grieve the death of the other.

Underneath the inscription for Joseph there is a Mary Hall who died in 1809 aged 62. Who is she I ask myself and why is she, with a different surname, memorialised on the Creighton family’s gravestone born in 1749, the same year as Joseph? His twin born Mary Creighton? It’s possible and I wonder.

Flattened tombstone in St Nicholas’ church yard.

Here’s another interesting one. This son, Richard, died aged 25 in Norfolk, Virginia in 1806. Unfortunately St Nicholas’ Church suffered a serious fire in 1971 and the main part of the building was destroyed. The gravestones are all laid flat. Whether this was pre or post inferno I don’t know, but it does make them difficult to read clearly and makes them more susceptible to erosion and debris.

Detail of the Virginia tombstone.
Black River, Jamaica, gravestone.

This gravestone records John and Mary Creighton’s son, William, ‘Master of the ship Resolution, who with all on board perished near the Land’s End’ aged 26 in 1809. Also John, named after his father, who died in Black River, Jamaica in 1808. They also lost two daughters. Jane in 1787 aged 9 months, and Mary in 1794 aged 3 years and 6 months. John and Mary died in 1820 and 1826 respectively in what must have been a lonely old age with all four of their children pre-deceasing them.

Another graveyard with interesting gravestones is Parton just outside Whitehaven. I’ll save those for another time.

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