George Gilbert Treherne Treherne.

Eglwys Cymmin epitaphs online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryGeorge Gilbert Treherne TreherneEglwys Cymmin epitaphs → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






3 1833 00718 7922


This is chosen as a frontispiece as being' the most important of all the
monuments in Eglwys Cymmin.

Eglwys Cymmin



Geo. G. T. Treherne, M.A.


Printed by W. Spurrell and Son



Chapter I. Introductory .. .. .. 5 — 11

Neglect of Monuments to-day
and in XVII. century. Renais-
sance of the two periods com-
pared. Church Registers

II. Epitaphs in Church :

(fl) In the Chancel .. .. 12 — 21

Chapman Slab and admoni-
tory form of Epitaph
PhiUips-Shewen Slab

(b) In the Nave . . . . 21 — 27

Perrott Slab
Price ,,
Mary Evans Slab
Avitoria Stone

,, III. Index to and Transcript of Epitaphs

in Churchyard . . . . 28 — 49

„ IV. Tom Morris and his work . . . . 50 — 56



1. AviTORiA Stone..

2. The Chapman Slab

3. The Three Live and Dead Kings

4. Rhosgoch Fawr House . .
4a „ „ Kennels

5. The Perrot Tablet

6. The Mary Evans Slab . .

7. Plan of Churchyard

8. Tom Morris and his Wife

9. Monumental Letterings by Tom Morris


To face page 12


Eglwys Cymmin Epitaphs.


'^EVERENCE for the dead has been through all ages,
and amongst all people, a primal instinct. The
stately pyramids of Egypt, the humble grey stones
and grassy mounds of our Hen Wlad alike bear
silent, though eloquent testimony to this truism. The old
Greeks, notwithstanding their high sense of fiUal duty, excused
children of unnatural parents from all responsibility towards
them, except their orderly burial.

The saintly founders of our early British Church regarded
and practised burial as the first and most solemn act of
consecration — (Eglwys Cymmin a case in point) — calling the
consecrated spot ' mynwent ' (a place of memorial), a name
still retained in Welsh Liturgy as the orthodox term for
churchyard. Surely Welshmen should regard their ' mynwent'
as a precious trust left to them by the piety of their
forefathers, and be mindful of the teaching of their favourite
motto — ' Cared doeth yr encilion ' (Love wisely the past).
Sad to say, the cultured Christians of to-day, while talking
glibly of laying their dear ones to rest in God's acre, allow
that ' acre ' to become a neglected wilderness of rank grass,
riotous weeds, and broken masonry. Even if the tombstones
have kept their original form and situation, they are so
choked and overgrown with moss and parasitic growth
that their use as a record is lost.

An interesting comparison suggests itself between the
state of neglect affecting our church and churchyard-
monuments nowadays and that which 300 years ago inspired
Weever's monumental work {Funeral Monuments, John

Weever, London, 1631.) In his preface he says in the quaint
English of his day—' Having seene how carefully in other
Kingdomes the Monuments of the dead are preserved and
their Inscriptions or Epitaphs registred in their Church-
Bookes. . . . And also knowing withall how barbarously
within these His Majesties Dominions they are (to the shame
of our time) broken downe and utterly almost all ruinated,
their brasen Inscriptions erazed, tome away and pilfered, by
which inhumane, deformidable act, the honourable memory
of many ... is extinguished, . . . grieving at this un-
sufferable injurie offered as well to the hving, as the dead
... I determined with my selfe to collect such memorials
of the deceased, as were remaining as yet undefaced.'

He then refers to making his search ' with painefuU ex-
penses ' over most parts of all England, and some parts of
Scotland. He intreats the furtherance of his work by the
' Generous Reader,' in making copies of any inscriptions
remaining in neighbouring churches, and suggests the appoint-
ment of a commission in the ' Prosequution ' of this business.
He gives as the three chief causes of the state of things which
he deplores ' time, the malignitie of v/icked people and our
English profane tenacitie having quite taken them away for
lucre sake.' Of these the first is still at work, neglect the
most deadly of all agents has taken the place of the other

And here another detail of comparison suggests itself.
In the XVII. century, the spirit of Renaissance cradled in
the nursery of the Reformation was spreading its wings and
manifesting itself amidst the ' inhumane deformidable acts '
which excited Weever's indignation, in the monumental
architecture of the day. So too, in our day, the spirit of
Renaissance is once again making itself felt in healthy suc-
cession to the well intentioned but often painful attempts to
revive the conventional orthodoxy of Gothic art, a revival
which is responsible for the garish windows of ill-assorted
heavy colours, the streaky pathetic tablets of lacquered brass,
and the ponderous masses of polished granite, painfully

repugnant to the faith in a joyous resurrection, which dis-
figure so many churches and churchyards of our land. And
here a striking contrast is suggested in close relationship to
the above comparison of the XVII. century with our own.
Freedom, the nursing mother of Renaissance, and which in
the XVII. century was partly responsible, on the one hand
for the extravagant licence of the Cavalier, and on the other
for the sturdy independence of the Puritan, found its chief
work in fanning the flame of civil war, whilst, at the present
day, so great has been the advance in civilization in 300
years. Freedom has inspired Great Britain to take the lead
of all the English-speaking races of the world, old and new,
descendants of Cavalier and Puritan alike, in the greatest
of all crusades against the obsolete and barbarous despotism
of the Prussian Hun. It is very noteworthy for our present
purpose, that Great Britain and her Allies, in this terrible
war, have shown the greatest reverence for, and care of
their heroic dead, and we may hope that as one of the many
good results of the war, this reverence and care may become
a national use and custom.

It is true that Parish Registers and Public Records suffice
to preserve historic facts, but personal regard and constancy
of affectionate remembrance seem no longer to prevail.
It is, I believe, a fact, that very few outdoor inscriptions
exist of an older date than the XVII. century, and that
these are fast disappearing.^

The existing Register of Burials in Eglwys Cymmin begins

1 In 1538, the Parochial Clergy for the first time received a Royal
injunction to keep registers of weddings, christenings, and burials.
Mr. Waters in his admirable little book, Parish Registers in England
(London, 1887, p. 6), states that no less than 8 12 extant parish registers
date from 1538. In 1644, it was ordained that in every parish 'a
fair register book of velini ' (sic) should be provided, in which births
should be registered as well as baptisms (p. 11). It is interesting to
note that a statute passed by Henry VIII. to prohibit the bequest
of money for building and upkeep of Chantry Chapels, and the saying
of Masses therein for the soul of the testator, still remains unrepealed,
with the result that at this day a testator may not leave money for
the upkeep of his tomb, and this strange misapplication of an obsolete
law may be indirectly responsible for the neglect by the living of their


in 1731, so that any inscriptions before that date are especially

Doubtless the disappearance of the inscriptions is often due
to shallow lettering, or to the perishable nature of the stone,
but even so, decay can be arrested by timely attention.

Eglwys Cymmin is unfortunately no exception to what
appears to be a rule, and in the summer of 1903, I was so
impressed with the importance of preserving the still existing
memorials, that I asked Miss Margaret Jones, the daughter
of the then Vicar, the Rev. Henry Jones, kindly to copy for
me all the epitaphs still legible in whole or part. Mr. Davies,
the late master of the Tremoilet Schools, continued the good
work, which in September 1917, 1 was able, with the assistance
of my friend, Mr. William Clarke of Llandaff, to complete

» At page 28 of my Eglwys Cymmin : The Story of an Old Welsh
Church, Carmarthen, 1 918, I give a list of the Church Registers kept
in the Rectory, beginning in 1731-2, and state that there is no
Register of Marriages between 1757 and 1838. The following extract
from a letter recently received by me gives a pathetic and typical
illustration of the way in which Church Registers in Wales have
been lost : — ' I was born at Rhosgoch Pach, m the parish of Eglwys
Cymmin in the year 1852 . . . when I remember first my father
and mother kept a little grocer's shop in the cottage adjoining my
Uncle Henry's (my mother's brother) house at the Roses. They had
an old manuscript book from which they would tear out a page or
whatever was wanted to wrap up the purchases of their customers,
whether it would be an ounce of tobacco, two ounces of tea, a
pound of soap, or whatever it might be, and I have no doubt that
my brother Tom and I were guilty of chewing many of the pages
into pulp to make bullets for our home-made pop-guns. The book
was knocking about our house for several years, for I know we
had some of it after I was able to read the manuscript. The paper
was good stout paper, yellow with age, and possibly with damp ;
the handwriting was bold and clear, and I think a little angular. I
know it was a list of names, dates, &c. I am certain it was part,
if not the whole of the Register you refer to as missing. The last time
I saw my father before his death, I asked him if he remembered it.
He looked at me with surprise, as we had never spoken of it before,
and with evident pain. He said, " Yes, it was the old Register of Eglwys
Cymmin. I did not then realize the value of it." Seeing it pained
him, I did not question him further. You see how simply and innocently
these precious things are lost. How my father got possession of the
book I never learnt.

Yours faithfully,
Feb. 9th, 1919- (Signed) B. T. Price.

to date. The result of our labours is the transcript of epitaphs
(see pp. 28-49), the exact position of each gravestone being
shown on the relative plan of the churchyard which will be
found opposite (p. 28) the numbers on which correspond
with those in the Index.

The oldest date still left on any of the stones is A.D. 1715
on the Chapman stone (p. 12), but the absence of the third
figure of the date on the stone No. 60, makes it impossible
to say whether that stone may not be a few years older.
It is noteworthy that several of the inscriptions have, in the
fourteen years since they were copied by Miss Jones, consider-
ably deteriorated, and that some of the tombstones have
fallen down or been broken.

Eglwys Cymmin illustrates the old prejudice against burial
on the north side of a churchyard, and this, in the present
instance, is the more remarkable, as the northern part of the
churchyard is considerably larger than the southern, the
church standing (as is usual in an ancient circular church-
yard) towards the southern boundary.^ The reason for this
preference is a favourite subject for discussion amongst the
curious; but in the case of Eglwys Cymmin, may be found
in the simple fact that the principal entrance to the church-
yard is on the south, and that here probably as elsewhere,
people prefer sun to shade for their departed friends as well
as for themselves, and are not unmindful of the old proverb —
' Out of sight out of mind.'

It may seem strange to the casual visitor that there are no
epitaphs in Welsh, and that the surname ' Jones ' occurs only
twice, one of them being the name of an imported Rector,

1 Immediately to the north of the church, and at the point where
the chancel joins the ancient nave, is a mound, about 30ft. in diame-
ter, and 3ft. above the present level of the churchyard, which suggests
itself as the site of Avitoria's burial. A suggestion based on what
appears to have been the custom of the holy man, who after the act
of consecration, (the burial of a relic — in this case of his daughter) — in
the centre of the circular enclosure, would build to the immediate
south of the burial his little church or oratory, which would pre-
cede the more modern chancel. See below pp. 21, 22.


the other of a married woman born in the parish as Lewis.
It must be remembered that until the reign of Henry VIII.,
Eglwys Cymmin was included in South Pembrokeshire (or
• Little England beyond Wales ') where Enghsh is, and always
has been the popular language, and that ' Jones * is a variant
of the older Welsh ' John ' which appears thirteen times. ^
Three Rectors have their epitaphs in the churchyard

namely : —

The Revd. John Wright, d. 1887. No. 63.
The Revd. Maurice Brown, d. 1840. No. 39.
The Revd. Lloyd Jones, d. 1890. No. 26.
Of these the Revd. Maurice Brown is mentioned by Carlisle
in his Topographical Dictionary, as having supplied him with
information about Eglwys Cymmin.^

The Revd. J. Wright has his memorial window in the
north wall of the nave, and the Revd. Lloyd Jones' monument
was designed by Mr. Thackeray Turner, and is a characteristic
specimen of his work.

The Rector of Pendine in a letter dated loth September,
1 9 17, tells me :

" Old Davy Harry, the clerk of Pendine Church for 50 years [and
whose headstone in the churchyard records his death in 1885], was
accustomed at a funeral after the Parson had finished the service to
give out the following verse, which was sung (to the tune of the Old
Hundredth) by the mourners and himself : —

Go home, dear friends, and shed no tears,
He (or she) must lie here till Christ appears ;
And when He comes he (or she) hopes to have
A joyful rising from the grave."

This epitaph, for such it is, sung but not engraved, seems
appropriate to, and may be included in, our local epitaphs.

* Jones, like Roberts, is a concoction in which English cooks have
had a hand, representing in brief ' the son of John ' (in old Welsh,
Joan or Jeuan). ' Jones,' to-day, is less common in South Wales
than in North Wales, and in Carmarthenshire is comparatively rare.
It is very seldom met with in documents of the XVI. century.

* Carlisle it appears from his manuscript diary, which is to be seen
in the National Welsh Library at Aberystwyth, was in the habit of
seeking information from the local clergymen, at all events so far as
Welsh churches are concerned.


Tom Morris, the Bard of Morfabychan (see p. 50), was
associated with Davy Harry in this ' solemn music' Harry
would give out the words and Morris 'pitch the tune.' When
the funeral was coming to the Church from Lower Pendine,
the ' solemn music ' began at or near the Moravian Chapel
where the pathway to the Church leaves the highway.

Epitaphs in the Church.

The Chancel.

In the chancel are two memorial slabs removed from the
churchyard by the Revd. Lloyd Jones (1887— 1890) for
their better preservation.

I. THE CHAPMAN SLAB (fig. 2 ) is placed against the
west wall on the south side of the chancel arch. The epitaph
is a quaint and simple edition of a form of epitaph common
to many lands and many ages. The first two Unes of epitaph
No. 53 (churchyard) on Joshua Edward, 1792, are of similar
form followed by two Unes in which the composer has at-
tempted to be original with questionable success. An epitaph
in identical terms is inscribed on a stone now fixed in the
east wall of the south porch of Laugharne Church, dated
1690, of which the Eglwys C3Ammin specimen is probably
a copy. In the churchyard of Worth, Co. Sussex, is an epitaph
of which all but the first of the four lines are also identical.
It is remarkable that the same form of epitaph should be
found in churchyards so remote and so distant from each
other as Eglwys Cymmin and Worth, it can scarcely be a
coincidence, or the result of design, but is probably owing to
the spontaneous growth which has given the world its folk-lore.
The first line of the Worth specimen differs from that of
the others in being addressed to the ' passer by,' so that this
unpretentious little stone is noteworthy as combining in very
simple form specimens of two popular varieties of epitaphs,
one taking the form of an appeal to the 'passer by,' the other
which may be conveniently described as the ' tu quoque '


y^/y'ho departed this Ufe tfieMcntieth
i^y ay of January Anno-Do^^j^


I A^ you te no^|$donce^\^
H^Off off hv np;irh^jR^;^JjbWTnc,



form, being that of which the Chapman slab in Eglwys Cymmin
is a typical specimen. The former class may be traced to
the Romans, who building their monuments by the roadside,
frequently began their inscriptions with such words as ' Siste,'
* Aspice,' or ' Cave Viator.' Pettigrew^ gives several instances
of the use of the word ' passenger ' in the old meaning of
passer by, as the introductory word of this class of epitaph ;
sometimes the still older spelling ' passager ' is used.

The Latin epitaph in the Grey Friars burial ground at
Edinburgh on George Herriot the ' Jingling Geordie ' in
Scott's Fortunes of Nigel, and the founder of the hospital
which bears his name, who died in 1610, begins with the
word ' Viator.'

The other, or ' Tu quoque ' form has also its origin in
classic times. It was adopted in the early French epitaphs
which were common in England till the middle of the XIV.
century, and continued to be used in the XV., and of which
the best known and most elaborate specimen is that on the
Black Prince's tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. This is said
to have been composed by himself, and appears in extenso
in his will, with careful directions as to its treatment. The
opening lines — (which alone concern us) — are evidently
modelled on the French form, of which a still earlier specimen
is the epitaph on Sir John de Warenne, quoted below.

The following transcript and translation of the Black
Prince's epitaph are taken from Weever's Ancient Funeral
Monuments, p. 205.

Tu qi passez on bouche close,
Par la once corps repose
Entent ce qe te diray :
Sycome te dire le say
Come tu es autiel fu
Tu seras tie! come ie su.

1 ' The Chronicles of the Tomb. Pettigrew : London, 191 2.


Who so thou be that passeth by
Where these corps entombed lie
Understand what I shall say
As at this time speake I may
Such as thou art sometime was I
Such as I am such shalt thou be.

The first four lines of the epitaph on Sir John de Warenne,
7th Earl of Surrey, who died at Lewes in 1304, are as follows :

Vous qe passez, on bouche close
Pries pur cely ke cy repose :
En vie come vous estis jadis fu
Et vous tiel serietz come je su.i

Dr. Hartwell Jones, in a note^ on a broken monumental
slab in the precincts of Chirk Castle, refers to this form of
' admonitory epitaph ' as ' one of the classics of graveyard
literature.' He gives several instances, including that of
Sir John de Warenne, dating from the X. to the XIX. cen-
turies, and occurring in various parts of Great Britain, and
states that the Chirk epitaph, which is of this class and of
pre-Reformation date (probably 1320— 1350), is the only
one of its kind in South Wales.

The oldest version of this form of epitaph which I have
been able to find, is on Alcuin's tomb in the Cathedral Church
of St. Martin's at Tours, of which he was abbot, and where
he was buried in 804. The epitaph is said to have been
composed by himself, and is as follows : — ^

Hie rogo pauxillum veniens subsiste viator,
Et mea scrutare pectore dicta tuo,
Ut tua deque meis agnoscas fata figuris :
Vertitur o species, ut mea, sicque tua,
Quod nunc es fueram famosus in orbe viator,
Et quod nunc ego sum tu que f uturis eris.

* This transcript is taken from Pettigrew who describes the epitaph
as being at Lewes, but it is certainly not to be found there now, nor
can I find any trace of it although it is so described by no less an
authority than Dugdale in his Baronage of England, 1675, Tom. i, p. 80.
Sir John was buried in the great Priorv Church of St. Pancras at Lewes,
and the tombstone of his grandfather, Sir William de Warenne. the
founder of the Priory, is preserved m the Church of St. John Southover,
hard by the ruins of the Priory.

* Royal Commission on Ancient Welsh Monuments, Inventory for
Denbighshire, pp. 34, 35.

* Alcuin, his Life and Work. C. B. J. Glaskoin: Clay & Son, 1904.


1 3 4

Online LibraryGeorge Gilbert Treherne TreherneEglwys Cymmin epitaphs → online text (page 1 of 4)