03. A Closer Look at the Writing on the Wall and a Trip to the Library’s Microfilm Reader

If you click on the photo of the plaque on the previous page it will enlarge and make possible a detailed examination. The plaque seems to have been written in at least two stages.

The first stage appears to end with the word stone and was likely carved soon after Bartholomew’s burial in 1799. That would have left a lot of blank space for later additions. The four-line “poem” appears to have been inscribed  sometime later. The lettering is slightly smaller and the chiseling not as deep. There is a small decoration after the word me. Everything after the word ALSO would have been written after Jane’s burial. My guess is that the poem and what follows were done in a second stage after 1807 and designed to fill the plaque in a balanced way. An extended decoration at the end deliberately leaves no space for any further additions. The small decoration after the poem, following the word me may indicate that the poem was the second of three stages in the creation of the plaque.

The poem is written in the voice of the deceased and anticipates a style which became very common in the early decades of the nineteenth century on North Devon memorials.  This one appears to say “I have gone to Heaven. If you behave yourselves you can join me there.”

The Original Parish Registers

These records have been filmed by the Devon Record Office and have been provided to me on nine microfiche sheets. In the library today I was able to find the burial entry for Jane Fishleigh. In fact it was recorded twice. In the first instance it was recorded under the heading Burials in 1807 as follows: Jane Fishleigh was buried February the 2nd 1807. The Rector made a note immediately following this entry which states Thus far returned to Court. Does this suggest there was a need prior to probate or was he noting that the Bishop’s Transcripts had been created up to that point in the records?  Probably the latter. The other seven 1807 burials are listed several pages later following several years of Baptisms. Elsewhere among the records, on a different fiche, we find the following unusual entry: Burials in the Year 1806 1807: February 2th (sic) 1807 Jane Fishleigh. This may be the Bishop’s transcript. In any case it is a good example of the scattered nature of the surviving records for the parish of Milton Damerel.  I intend to try to reconcile the records as catalogued by the Devon Record Office with what has been filmed to try to bring some order to all of this if only to better understand the extant records.

Ormiston’s transcription of the date of Jane Fishleigh’s burial agrees with the original and thereby with the IGI extraction.  Both entries in the original tell us it was the second day of February.  The second entry using a “th” rather than an “nd” after the numeral is a tad troubling.  Did the writer mean to write 2nd when he wrote 2th? Or did he mean to write 12th when he wrote 2th? The date on the plaque could conceivably be correct but unlikely, although possible, that Jane died on the 12th and was buried on the same day.  It is  more likely that Jane died on the second as the parish records state.  Her burial, considering the time of year, might have been on the 12th. Conclusion, after all this confusion, is that Jane must have drawn her last breath in the month of February in the year 1807.  I bet the plaque was updated some significant time later when the “poetry” cited was in style and when living memories would not have been able to pin down the exact date of Jane’s demise.

What about Jane and Bartholomew’s marriage which we found so efficiently on the IGI?  The marriage was found on the microfiche as follows: Weddings in 1746: Bartholomew Fishleigh & Jane Pridis (sic) Ap 14. There were three other “weddings” recorded for 1746, all in the month of May. That was the entire entry. Only seven words counting the ampersand!  This is typical of the brevity of marriage entries until Parliament prescribed a more detailed format which came into effect on 25 March (Lady Day) 1754. So the only new information we have gleaned by going from the IGI to the original record is the discovery that it was Pridis not Pridiss in the original document.  In this instance it was Mr. Orniston who introduced the second s which was then captured on the IGI.

I want to explore the matter of spelling variations for family names and place names as they affect Jane and Bartholomew. This can be important for success in further research on Jane and Bartholomew’s past.


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