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James Clarke Masthead
April 23 2012 at 10:58

Today is National Epitaphs Day – at least I think it is – and I must thank those readers who, over the years, have sent me the following, for it means I can knock off early and prepare myself for yet another long weekend.

I have come across no noteworthy epitaphs on South African gravestones, but there appear to be plenty elsewhere.

It is my bounden duty – seeing today is NED – to share them with readers. 

Some, such as the next three, are rather mean-spirited.

On a grave in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:

Here lies Ezekial Aikle. Age 102. The Good Die Young.

In a London cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann who lived an old maid but died an old Mann. December 8, 1767.

In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:

The children of Israel wanted bread

And the Lord sent them manna,

Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,

And the Devil sent him Anna.

On the grave of the victim of a road accident in Uniontown, Pennsylvania:

Here lies the body

of Jonathan Blake

Stepped on the gas

Instead of the brake.

On a 19th century grave in Silver City, Nevada:

Here lays Butch,

We planted him raw.

He was quick on the trigger,

But slow on the draw.

Sir John Strange’s epitaph on his tombstone in England:

Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange.

An anonymous person in Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody. Who, is no business of yours.

Lester Moore was a Wells Fargo Co station agent for Naco, Arizona, in the Wild West of the 1880s.

He is buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:

Here lies Lester Moore.

Four slugs from a .44.

No Les No More.

In a Georgia cemetery:

I told you I was sick!

John Penny’s epitaph in the cemetery at Wimborne, England:

Reader if cash thou art in want of any – Dig 4 feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.

Anna Hopewell’s grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

Here lies the body of our Anna

Done to death by a banana

It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low

But the skin of the thing that made her go.

Someone in Winslow, Maine, didn’t like Beza Wood:

In Memory of Beza Wood, departed this life November 2, 1837 aged 45 years. Here lies one Wood enclosed in wood.

One Wood within another.

The outer wood is very good:

We cannot praise the other.

On a grave from the 1880s in Nantucket, Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees

Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.

He is not here, there’s only the pod:

Pease shelled out and went to God.

A grave in Girard, Pennsylvania:

Here lies Ellen Shannon who was fatally burned March 21, 1870 by the explosion of a lamp filled with RE Danforth’s Non-Explosive Burning Fluid.

In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an atheist all dressed up and no place to go.

In Newbury, England (1742):

Tom Smith is dead, and here he lies,

Nobody laughs and nobody cries;

Where his soul’s gone, or how it fares,

Nobody knows, and nobody cares.

Hillaire Belloc (1870-1953), one of my favourite poets, but an indifferent politician:

Here richly, with ridiculous display,

The Politician’s corpse was laid away.

While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged,

I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.

In a Welland, Ontario cemetery

Here lies all that remains of Charlotte,

Born a virgin, died a harlot.

For sixteen years she kept her virginity,

A marvellous thing for this vicinity.

Contact Stoep: E-mail: [email protected]; Website:;



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