Written In Stone; Stories From The Churchyard

I find a story almost every time I look around our village churchyard and recently, I noticed two gravestones that made me think about the lives of the three people buried there.

Look at the gravestone to the left.

Now look at the gravestone to the right.

The gravestone in front of the window is connected to the one you are looking past from behind. The two stones face each other directly divided only by the path that runs between them.

Sophia Rich, was the first wife of Thomas Olver Rich. You would not know this if searching online as a popular ancestry site has her listed as unknown, but notes her maiden name may have been Pengelly, a name you see a lot in Cornwall. As you can see from her gravestone, she was not a Pengelly, but the daughter of John and Elizabeth Crowle.

Sophia died at 34 in 1865. She left Thomas with the six children I mentioned earlier, with the youngest being born only six months before her death. There was a sweet inscription on her gravestone.

A virtuous Wife in prime of life,

By death is snatched away;

Her soul is blest, and gone to rest,

Her flesh is gone to clay.

She’s left behind a Husband kind,

Three daughter’s and three sons;

May they prepare to meet her where,

True joys are to be won.

 

Across the path next to the window, Thomas shares a grave with wife number two. Thomas lived another fifty years without Sophia and later remarried a woman listed simply as Ellen on the gravestone they share. The ancestry site lists the names of his six children with Sophia along with the names of the children he had with his second wife, Ellen. It looks as if he fathered a total of ten or eleven children. (one of his later children with Ellen is missing a name) Ellen has little listed other than her age and the date of her death which tells me that there was at least a 17 year age difference between Thomas and Ellen. Her name is not on the ancestry site either even though you can see the names of her children.

A final interesting note, the house we live in sits on land that was purchased by a local builder in 1993 from a woman who had bought it with her first husband when her last name was Rich.

(Remember you can double-click on any of these photos to enlarge)