Skip to main content

Epitaphs in Cemeteries ii

This week we continue our series looking at epitaphs - those final words that help to immortalize our forebears in cemeteries. 

George Eliot 

Above: a painting of Eliot by François D'Albert Durade, and her headstone

Numerous literary giants can be found in the burial and cremation registers on the Deceased Online website. One of the famous literary epitaphs is that of George Eliot in Highgate Cemetery, north London:

"Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence"
Here lies the body of "George Eliot"
Mary Ann Cross

George Eliot (1819 to 1880), one of the most prominent writers of the Victorian era, was buried in Highgate East Cemetery. Although she was baptised "Mary-Anne Evans", the novelist's later married name of Mary Ann Cross is inscribed on her headstone below that of her pen-name. Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Eliot left home after her father's death in 1849, and after travelling in Europe, she settled in London. 

Living and working in literary circles, Eliot met George Henry Lewes (1817-1878), a literary critic and philosopher, who encouraged her writing. She used the male name, "George Eliot", to ensure that her writing would be taken seriously by contemporary publishers, many of whom were often resistant to female novels. She wrote seven novels, with her first, Adam Bede, being published in 1859. This was followed by The Mill on the FlossSilas Marner, Romola, the seminal Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. The two lived together but were shunned by many as Lewes was already married. After Lewes died in 1878, Eliot legally changed her name to Evans-Lewes. She went on to marry John Walter Cross in 1880. In December of the same year, Eliot died at the age of 61. She lies buried with George Henry Lewes in his grave at Highgate. 

Close-up of the Highgate Cemetery burial register entry for Mary Ann Cross, alias George Eliot.

Eliot left a strong literary legacy, with Middlemarch being hailed by many as the most influential novel in the English language. In The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf described the Middlemarch as, "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people". Her novels are noted for their social realism, with heroes that come from outside society, and often have a political emphasis. She depicted rural society as well as some of the difficulties of small-town life, such as gossip and ostracism of the unconventional. Outside of novels, Eliot worked as a translator and she also wrote poetry.

Do any of your ancestors have memorable epitaphs? We would love to hear about them. Do let us know about them in the Comments Box below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.


Popular posts from this blog

London's Spa Fields

Deceased Online has just uploaded around 114,000 burial records from Spa Fields in the modern London borough of Islington Spa Fields today, with the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in the background Spa Fields Burial Ground became notorious in the 19th century for its overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Located in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell, the grave yard was not far from the ever-increasing City of London. Spa Fields was known also as Clerkenwell Fields and Ducking-pond Fields in the late 18th century, hinting at a dark side to what was then a summer evening resort for north Londoners. What would become a cemetery was a ducking pond in the rural grounds of a Spa Fields public house. It was here in 1683 that six children were drowned while playing on the ice. In his History of Clerkenwell (1865) William J. Pinks wrote that visitors, "came hither to witness the rude sports that were in vogue a century ago, such as duck-hunting, prize-fighting, bull-baiting

Wakefield Collection: Cremation Records now available on Deceased Online

Records for both crematoria in Wakefield, Yorkshire have been added to the Deceased Online database Above: Pontefract Crematorium The two sets of crematoria records have been added to Deceased Online 's Wakefield Collection .  Wakefield district contains nineteen cemeteries and two crematoria. Many of the records go back to the mid and late 19th century when the cemeteries opened, and range across a wide geographical area. The full list of  Wakefield  cemeteries live on Deceased Online,  with opening dates in brackets,   is as follows: 1.  Altofts Cemetery  – Church Road, Altofts, Normanton  (1878)   2.  Alverthorpe Cemetery  – St Paul’s Drive, Alverthorpe, Wakefield  (registers from 1955) 3. Castleford Cemetery  – Headfield Road, Castleford  (1857) 4.  Crigglestone Cemetery  – Standbridge Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield  (1882) 5. Featherstone Cemetery  – Cutsyke Road, North Featherstone  (1874) 6. Ferrybridge Cemetery  – Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, P

Churck (Rock) Cemetery, Nottingham

Coming soon to the Deceased Online database: two historic cemeteries from Nottingham City Council to add to the Nottingham Collection . This week, I explore the history of the renowned Church Cemetery (also known as the Rock Cemetery) . At first glance, the modern visitor to Nottingham's Church Cemetery may think they have wandered into Kensal Green , or another of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. The 13 acre site abounds with the kind of gothic stone monuments and large sarcophogi with which the mid-Victorians liked to remember their dead. Yet look harder and you will find something unique to Nottingham - sandstone caves. Since the middle ages, the area around Nottingham was quarried for its sandstone, now known by the name of a nearby village as "Bulwell sandstone". From 1851, after the cemetery was laid out on the former sandpits, local people grew to know it simply as "The Rock".  Church Cemetery Otherwise known as the Rock Cemetery on a