Very few of us, after burying our friends in the churchyard, seem to think that the last office has been performed for the departed, until we raise in some form or other a memento setting forth the age and sometimes the virtues of those “Not lost but gone before”. The style of our forefathers differs from that of the present day as will be observed by the accompanying illustrations. The curious epitaphs and the quaint carving, not the value of the stone were formerly the great features. This will be fully seen by noticing the stone on the south side of the church, parallel with the tower, erected to the memory of George Gee where, on the head-piece, is a representation of the fee destroyer Death, springing forward to sever the thread of life from the figure lying on a bed. In this design is a clock on the table in place of the hour-glass which forms so prominent an object on many old-time grave stones. Turning to the left we observe a well carved stone to the memory of Charles Morgan, a youth, who died in the year 1791. This represents a cherub bearing “The Book of Life” opened, pointing to the name and age of the deceased written therein. A setting sun, anchor, and other symbols are depicted around the head of the stone.

Another curious stone, near the north porch, is called the “Farmyard” stone, from the fact of a farm scene being depicted upon the head of it.

The following is a list of all the older ones worthy of note:-

Here lies interred the Bodie of William Gaines late of this parish who deceased the 4th of August 1657 and in the yeare of his age 67.

Death is noe losse. But rather gaines,
for he by dieing Life attaines;
The Poore, the World,
the Heavens, and ye Grave
His Almes, His Praiers,
his Soul & bodie have.

Hic jacet Catherina, filia perdilecta Thomæ Iohnson, argr et annæ uxoris ejus quae obit vicesimo Septimo die Augusti, Anno Dom 1680.
Ætatisque Suæ decimo.

Stay Reader stay, lett mee bespake your eye,
To take a view who here intomb’d doth lye:
’Tis worth your while for things of excellent worth,
His tender years beyond hir years brought forth;
Takit in a word within this narrow roome.
Great Beauty, witt, youth, duty, have a tombe;
Then stand & reade thy self within this Glasse,
How soone these perish, & thy selfe maist passe.

The inscription on the coffin-shaped stone near the NW corner of the tower, was: Edmund Ball, died 11 day of May 1692.

My TIME is pass’d as you may see, Prepare Thy selfe to Follow Me.

In memory of Susanna, wife of Henry Andrews, senr, she died Novber, the 19th, 1716, in the 48th year of her age; here also lyes Sarah Andrews, daughter of Henry & Mary Andrews, junr., she died June 13, 1736, in ye 3rd year of her age

The tender branch that lieth here, She was beloved by parents dear;
Few was her days, Short was her race, From womb to grave, She run apace;
And her she lies, free from all pain, When Christ shall call, She’ll rise again.

Here lieth the body of John Webb, he departed this life ye 13th of May 1717, aged 50 years.

All flesh is Grass. The Glory of a man Is like a Flower. His life is as a span;
The earth he Treads upon it well doth tell, That in this World he hath not long to dwell;
The Flowers, the Grass, the Greenness flees, Death & Decay. Man’s Life’s like these.

Mary the wife of George Carey, she died ye 20th day of October 1718, in ye 32 year of her age.

She was a kind and loving Wife, A Quiet Neighbour, free from strife:
Good humoured was, with bad & best, ‘Tis hoped in Heaven, Shees now at rest.

John Boothworth, he departed this life the 9th November 1723, in the 19th year of his age.

A blooming sober youth in Death doth sleep,
Although the parents here may seem to weep.
We hope his soul with Christ will ever keep.

Here lieth the body of James, son of John & Mary Robertson, who died Novembr.4th , 1724, in the 1st year of his age; also Thomas, who died Septembr. 24th 1726, in the 1st year of his age; also William, who died December - 1727, in the 1st year of his age; also Mary, who died July 8th 1729, in the 1st year of her age.

Four harmless Babes, took from ye breast, Wee hope are in Eternall rest;
And here hath left ye World of sorrow, Christ and His Prophets for to Follow.

Edward, husbnd. Of Sarah Adkins, died March 16, 1725 aged 23 years. And Sarah his wife, died July 29, 1728, aged 29 years.

By tears my sorrows are exprest, For my dear Friends who lie at rest;
May I submit to GOD above, Whose pleasure it was to part our love,
Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

To the memory of James Clarke, late of this town, Tayler, son of John and Mary Clarke of Weston Underwood, he died March 18th, 1735/6, aged 25 years.

I seized was with a distemper sore,
And patiently my great affliction bore;
Then in my bloom, Just in my youthfull time,
Grim death appear’d & cropt me in my prime.
I allways knew myself to be but dust,
And died that I might live amongst ye Just.

Requiescat in pace

To the memory of Elizth, wife of Richard Kitchener, junr., she died Octbr ye 5th, 1735, aged 92 years.

Oh do ye works of Jesus Christ, That we may meet in Paradise.

In memory of Elizth. Beard, wife of Iohn Beard, she depted. This life ye 2nd of Novbr. 1735, in ye 55 year of her age.

You, that pass by this place may think of me, For as you are so once you did me see;
What I am now will quickly be your doom, My house is strait, but by my side there’s room.

To the memory of Iohn Dowse, the son of Iohn & Lydia Douse, he died April 4th, 1736, aged 20 years.

In prime of years, Death fell’d my tree. And quickly I was gone;
Prepared be, to follow me, and weep not for your son.

Here lye ye bodys of Sarah and Martha, daughters of Willm. & Elizth. Stanford. Sarah dy’d June ye 30th, 1736, aged 4 years & 5 weeks; Martha dy’d July 4th, 1736, aged 3 weeks & 2 days.

Go home dear friends & cease your tears,
We must lye here till Christ appears.

Here lieth the body of John Hardwick, Mason, he deped, this life March the 18th, 1739, aged 84 years.

While in this World I did remain, My latter end was grief and pain;
And when ye Lord did think it best, He took me to a place of rest.

The following appears in Latin:

Here is buried Thomas Ball of this parish, physician, of whom it may be said he was very useful in life, how well he understood the art of medicine, those will bear witness, who having been torn away from the shadow of death (God favouring) he restored to life and safety, after he had lived, not long enough for friends, having been snatched away by a fatal disease he restored his soul to God, March 5th,1744.

Sacred to the memory of Thomas Abbott, the much loved only son of Thomas & Ann Abbott, snatched (alas) suddenly away by the violence of a fatal & cruel distemper, December 4th, 1748, in the 6th year of his age.

Ah! doom’d too soon to yield thy youthful breath, To Thee so lov’d in Life and mourn’d in death;
Thy weeping Parents raise this funeral stone, That holds thy Ashes, and expects their own.
The day will back restore thee to their sight, Oh may they hail thee, in those fields of light;
There feel a vast expanse of Joy from you, ‘Till then sweet little saint, Adieu, Adieu.

In memory of Thomas Harison, husband of Sarah Harison, he died Octbr. ye 29th, 1752, aged 29 years.

The best of husbands sure had I, The wants of Christ was all his cry;
A hope he had before he died, The hope of being glorified.

Here lieth the body of William Lawrence, the son of Robert & Sary Lawrence, he departed this life, Novber. ye 6th, 1752, in ye 20th year of his age.

All you young men that do pass bye, As you are now, so once was I;
Death, doth not always warning give, Therefore be careful how you Live.

In tender memory of dear Ann Abbott who, ornamented with the attractive graces both of sweetness of nature & form, and every amiable quality that made her lovely & beloved by all. In the midst of health and the prime flower of virgin years, by a fatal visitation of the small pox was hastily deprived of life, Decber. 9th, 1754, at the age of 17 years.

Reader - In pity turn thy Self away,
For Foot ne’er trampled on more lovely clay.

Here lieth ye body of Elizth. Stanton, wife of Joseph Stanton, she died May ye 11th, 1755, aged 60 years.

Consider Reader as you look, How suddenly my soul was took;
Pray take warning by my fall, And ready be at Christ’s call.

In memory of Elizabeth Hooton, wife of Andrew Hooton, she died Octbr. ye 29th, 1763, aged 81 years; Also Andrew Hooton, husbnd. of Elizth. Hooton, died Febry. ye 8th, 1764, aged 80 years.

With pain and sickness long opprest, We very willing was to die;
In hopes that we should rise possest, With Christ to all eternity.

In memory of Ann, wife of Willm. Smith, she departed this life Jary. 17th, 1768, aged 62 years.

He is a God of sovereign love, Who promised Heav’n to me;
And taught my thoughts to soar above, Where happy Spirits be.

In memory of Jabes, the son of Thomas and Mary Chater, who depted. this life Sept. the 18th, 1774, aged 10 months.

Sleep little Saint until that day, That God, thy God, to Earth shall say
Return this soul its little clay, Refin’d from dross without delay.
To dwell with me in endless day, Thy ransom Jesu’s blood did pay;
Thy soul meanwhile shall dwell above, To admire discriminating love.
And soon, at most a few days more, We then shall meet on Canaan’s shore;
The Lamb’s new song shall us employ, We’ll sing to all Eternity.

Also Thomas Chater, the father of Jabes, died the 28th of Janry. 1811.

In memory of Mary, the wife of Willm. and Grace Perry (of Ravenstone Mill), who died May 4th, 1777, aged 44 years.

Reader - if Heaven doth unto thee, a longer time bestow;
The things which for thy peace shall be, Hence better learn to know.
Then O what solid peace to thee, Will every moment bring;
The Grave its Victory will flee, And Death will lose its sting.

In memory of Willm. the husbnd of Elizth. Brice, who depd. This life Janry 11th, 1778, aged 31 years.

A time of Death there is we know full well,
But when, or where, or how, no one can tell;
Short and uncertain is the life of man, Certain to die, but is uncertain when.

In memory of Rebecca Wykes, daughter of John and Elizth. Wykes, she died Sepbr. 9th, 1788, aged 15 years.

Behold and see as you pass by, The darling of a parents’ joy;
She left this World, it was but vain, In hopes in Heaven to meet again.

In memory of Edwd. Andrews & Susanna his wife, he died Jany. 18th 1756, aged 52; she died Jany. 13th, 1790, aged 82.

Ah what is Life that thus employs our care,
This frail weak Bubble of uncertain Air;
From earliest infancy to latest Age,
How swift has Man, the Pilgrim, ran his stage,
Happy that escape the dangers of the Road,
Brought safely home by Christ the Guide to God.

Charles Morgan, son of Jno. & Barbara Morgan (apprentice at Northampton), died Decbr. 18th, 1791, in the 17th Year of his age.

Let the gay youth review this solemn page,
And see Death certain here at every age;
Not all the fondness that a Mother knows,
Nor all the sweet solicitude she shows,
Can her lov’d off spring for a moment save,
Or snatch those objects from a greedy grave.

In memory of Mary Clarke, wife of Willm. Clarke, died Augst. 18th, 1796, aged 30 years.

A lingering sickness did me seize, And no Physician could me ease;
All means was tried, but all in vain Till Death did ease me of my pain.

In memory of Richard, the husbd. of Ann Turner, died June 25th, 17--, aged 30 years; also Ann Dumville (formerly the wife of Richard Turner), died April 10th, 1798, aged 93 years, who at the age of 88 years, cut 4 teeth; also Willm their son, who died in infancy.

Their God will sure on them bestow,
Whose virtues do embalm their names below.

In memory of Elizth Worley, wife of Thos Worley, she died June 12th, 1800, in the 32nd year of her age.

O cruel Death that would not spare, A Tender wife and mother dear;
Great is the loss to those she leaves behind, But bliss eternal, She we know will find;
May we submit to God above, Whose pleasure it was to part our love.

Near this monitor of human instability are deposited the remains of Susanna wife of Willm. Marshall, laceman, who resigned life in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, August 16th, 1812, aged 40 years.

She was …….But words are wanting to say what;
Think what a wife she would be…..and she was that.

Here lies interr’d the remains of Mr John Rose, born at Warrington, in the county, and died at Loddinton in the county of Northampton.

My days on Earth in pain I spent, My Soul from God to me was lent;
My Soul return’d to God again, And eas’d me of my earthly pain.

To the memory of six children of George and Ann Marriott who died in their Infancy.

God took us from our Mother’s breast, From this Vain World to a place of rest;
And none need doubt the truth of it, Because no sin did we commit.

Sacred to the memory of George Grindon, Esq., who after practising as surgeon in this (his native) town with the greatest success for nearly half a century exchanged time for eternity 17th Nov. 1831, in the 72 year of his age; also to Ann, wife of the above, who died 7th Jan. 1845, aged 77.

The oldest grave stone known in the yard, is inscribed “Robert Sharp, died the 23 day of December 1667. The farmyard stone which has been mentioned and illustrated above is “In memory of William, the husband of Mary Langley, Pasture Keeper to George Main of Weston Underwood, by whom this stone is erected. He departed this life, March 6th, 1779, aged 66 years”. The stone on the north side of the church, depicting King Death, crowned, is undecipherable. On this head stone the skeleton is supporting a tablet upon which are, in bold relief, three cherub’s heads, above which are clouds with the sun’ rays scintillating upon the faces of the small angelic busts. On the left of the tablet is an urn, and Death, rests with his left arm upon a broad pick, and clasps the handle of a shovel with the sinister hand.

Newton's Tomb Stone

The fine quaintly carved head-stones are principally the work of two brothers, James and Edward Andrews, who were in business as stone masons and glass blowers at the house now occupied by Mr. William T. Knight, boot maker, 14, High-street.

A modern stone, near the west side of the tower records a singular instance, namely the deaths of an old married couple during one night, and reads: Erected to the memory of William Thomas Litchfield who died Dec 27th 1874 aged 63, also of Mary, wife of the above, died Dec 28th 1874 aged 58 years.

In the east corner of the south side of the churchyard is a massive grey granite tombstone inscribed: John Newton died 21st Dec. 1807, aged 82. Mary Newton Died 15th Decr. 1790, aged 61.

John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa was by the Rich Mercy of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ preserved, restored, pardoned and appointed to preach the faith he has long laboured to destroy, near 16 years curate of this parish and 28 years as rector of St Mary Woolnoth.
These remains were removed from the Church of St Mary Woolnoth, in the City of London, and re-interred here 25th January 1893.
This monument is erected by a large number of subscribers who revere the memory and value the works of this eminent servant of God.

There is a goodly number of later day memorials, both in various coloured granites and marble, erected to members of the following families: Allen, Aspray, Barber, Berrill, Boyes, Brooks, Coles, Cooper, Dawes, Dimmock, Eyles, Fellows, Gibb, Grindon, Harrold, Hatton, Hedley, Higgs, Hipwell, Hooton, Howson, Hubbard, Iliffe, Jordan, King, Mobbs, Osborn, Page, Raban, Ratcliff, Rawson, Redmill, Sanders, Saunders, Skevington, Sowman, Talbot, Underwood, Whitlock, Wilford, Wilson, Wooding, Wright, and York.

Follow this link to the complete list of burials in Olney churchyard for the twenty years between 1887 and 1907

The list is extracted from this section of Oliver Ratcliff's 1907 Almanack.

A Ratcliff 'end piece'


The band had secured an engagement, and when the leader called at the house of one of the instrumentalists to acquaint him of the fact, he was met by the lady of the house, who looked worried.

“You’ll 'ave to manage without 'Enry,” she said. “Our New Year party done for 'is band outin's. Some of our company started dancin' after supper, and 'Enry's brother Bob, who weighs fifteen stone odd, managed to ketch 'is foot in the cocoanut mattin' and fell through our sideboard.”

“Not 'urt bad, I 'ope?” “Bob wasn't, but the sideboard was.” “Then why can't 'Enry come?” “Cos 'e can't,” explained the lady. “'Enry's big drum is our sideboard when we're givin' a party.”

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