On yesterday’s walk to Wilfholme Landings I looked around Watton and Beswick churchyards.  I’m not sure I’m a true taphophiliac, because I have never really pondered my feelings of contentment whenever I wander round a graveyard. Having discovered the FamilySearch Tree quite recently I have, though, an additional  reason for visiting last resting places – to check if the sleeping are remembered and linked appropriately with forebears and descendants.

First, though, here are some places to visit online if you have been smitten by cemetery love. Taphophilia  was rather slow to give up some of its treasures this evening but it may work well for you.  Loren Rhoads’ aim in life is to encourage people to go to graveyards and I hope her book, out in October, will be successful in doing that. With a title like 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

20170620BECKITTmj_WattonMost of Watton churchyard is kempt but there are a couple of wild places. On the northern bank of the brook, under mature trees and largely hidden are several graves. I am partial to celtic crosses and was strongly drawn to this one. On Free BMD I found only one Richard BECKITT who married a Mary Jane (nee SMITH) in 1846 which figures but in Doncaster which doesn’t really, though geographically it’s not so far distant I suppose. A Yorkshire Gardens Trust Report by David and Susan Neave (pdf available online) helpfully informs that “from c. 1860 Watton Abbey was let to Richard Beckitt, a prosperous tenant farmer”.  Mary Jane died in 1876 and by the 1881 Census had been supplanted by Ann Ducker GREAVES, the marriage in Bath registered in the December Quarter of 1878. Ann was 44 years old when she wed, fifteen years younger than her husband but a spinster. Helpfully, her unmarried sister Sarah D. GREAVES was enumerated at Watton in 1881. Richard’s occupation is given as “Farmer 775 acres, 12 men, 8 boys”. A cursory look at FamilySearch Tree reveals only one Richard BECKITT, with a father Richard and mother Harriett but he is our guy [MPY9-2SB], christened Melton on the Hill , Yorkshire 18th June 1818. (Born Melton in the 1881 Census.) Also known as High Melton, this parish is less than 5 miles from Doncaster. Richard is not linked on FST to either of his wives so there is work to be done! Ann Ducker is duplicated [MRVK-7JT & KGQC-2JG] as are her parents John and Ann. Her sister Sarah doesn’t appear to have a record yet.

There is a likely Mary Jane SMITH on FST [LRDQ-WDB] but her unsourced spouse is given as Edward BECKETT. There are some issues with the sources that have been given or offered as “Hints” by the system. More work for someone!

BARMBYdalby_BeswickIn Beswick churchyard I only had time to photograph a dozen stones before the bus to Filey was due. I would have shared another celtic cross  but couldn’t find the grave’s occupant on FST.  Here is a plain stone bearing an intriguing name – Dalby BARMBY. Dalby is on FST but the family name has been wrongly transcribed as BARNBY [MGJG-B2Q]. (His mother is just “Sarah”.) As is very common on FST, the screenshot only gives the christened child in the married couple’s drop-down. A neighbouring stone shows that Dalby  had a younger sister, Jane. The 1881 Census adds another sister, Mary, and a brother, John, all unmarried. There is a thirteen year gap between Dalby and Jane so there may be four or five other siblings who married and moved to set up their own households or died in infancy. Sarah is a widow in 1881- “of the late John BARMBY” and there is a Free BMD Marriage record for John BARMBY and Sarah WILSON, March Qtr 1838 Bradford 23 133. Dalby was christened at the end of that year, 16th December, so this marriage fits neatly, though Bradford is a caution.

What is surprising is that one of the FST Hints has Dalby on an Outward Passenger List from Melbourne, Victoria in 1878. FST Hints are generally useful so I wouldn’t doubt that Dalby tried to build a new life in Australia. I wonder how long he stayed there. His occupation in 1881 is given as “farm labourer”.

Update 22 June

C39_SULLIVAN_20120812_1mThis morning I found a photograph of the monument to which yesterday’s cross belonged in an original LaF folder and checked out the people remembered on FST.

Michael B. SULLIVAN [LV41-W1R] was born in Turlow, County Cavan in 1848. The Monumenta Inscription states that he was a Priest and Vicar of Brackenfield but at the 1881 Census his given occupation is Primitive Methodist Minister. He married Maria MOON [LV41-48Y] in Malton in 1875 and the household in Trinity Place, Bingley in 1881 records Mary E, and Amos W.E. – their children aged 5 and 2. Oddly, a middle child at that time, Arnold Moon SULLIVAN, is not recorded. His birth was registered in Helmsley, December Qtr 1878 (9d 453). The full MI transcription reads:-

Area C39  Cross

In Memory of MARIA SULLIVAN died April 21 1922 aged 72

And her beloved husband MICHAEL SULLIVAN Priest, Vicar of Brackenfield, died Dec 28 1930 aged 82

Also their son J.H.B. SULLIVAN died Feb 8th 1932 aged 41

And of their daughter MARY EVELYN died May 13th 1949

‘Well loved by her many friends’

Mary Evelyn is in splendid isolation, without parents, on Kath’s Filey Genealogy & Connections but the FST takes the MOONs back a little further than is evident in the screenshot below.


The symbolism of a cross is, of course, powerful but extends beyond the obvious (for those of the Christian faith). It is a sign of a place where the paths of the living and the dead cross each other. In Asia the vertical axis is seen as representing active powers associated with the sky (masculine) and the horizontal the passive powers of water (feminine). The axes together symbolize the equinoxes and solstices. If I ever knew this I’d forgotten it – I posted the cross quite by chance yesterday!