Friday, November 15, 2013

Kind Angels Watch Her Sleeping Dust...

There was a picture of Lydia Tanner's gravestone on FindaGrave, but the poem was not readable, so I put out a request on FindAGrave for a new picture. A kind local volunteer, Thomas Moné, took a lovely clear photo, used here by permission.

The inscription says, in typical early 19th century language:

In memory of
consort of John Tanner,
who died May 31st 1825,
aged 41 years, 6 months
& 13 days.

Kind angels watch her sleeping dust,
Till Jesus comes to raise the just.
Then may she wake in sweet surprise.
And in her saviour's image rise.

The poem was used on gravestones in the 19th century as widely as the American South and Australia. I haven't been able to track down its origin, but it was in print in an 1860s memorial catalog.

The willow-tree-and-urn motif on the top of the gravestone became common in the late 18th century. It symbolized, simply, mourning.


  1. What a nice volunteer! Where is Lydia buried?

  2. She's buried in Bolton Rural Graveyard, which is in upstate New York. It's about four hours east of Palmyra and four hours north of New York City, so you really have to want to go there, or be on your way to Montreal, or something.