Seen on a Gravestone in Melton Mowbray.

I recently came across a large gravestone propped against a wall in the St Mary’s Way burial grounds.  It was so full of engraved script that I paused to read it and to take it all in.  What I did read disturbed me somewhat and I recorded an image to study more closely.  The result was a rather saddening and sobering experience for me and sharing it with you, I am pleased to resurrect the frailties of a time long ago;  The message to this modern world reads:

Born May 6th, died September 27th, 1843.
Born September 21st, 1844, died May 25th, 1846.
Born November 2nd, 1845, died January 11th, 1846.
Born December 8th, 1846, died May 25th, 1847.
Born December 16th, died March 10th, 1848.
Born January 28th, died October 6th, 1849.
Born January 22nd, died July 31st, 1850.
Born March 7th, died August 31st, 1851.
Born May 22nd, died October 15th, 1852.
Born July 3rd, died September 24th, 1855.
Born December 6th, 1856, died January 21st, 1859.
Accustomed as I am to wandering around my local graveyards about the town – especially on a Sunday morning when there are less people to see me go about my odd pastime – I occasionally come across a few words inscribed on the headstones which give me great food for thought.  I have been moved to write in the past of the story of three young men, siblings all, who had passed away in the summer months of a century ago during the visit of a massive weather event to the area.  The sad story which unfolded of the tragic events at the small village of Barsby on a dark stormy night in October of 1927, I have written about elsewhere, but my point is that it was my meanderings which created my ongoing interest in cemeteries and the ancient gravestones which have retained the mostly forgotten stories of the past.

During a more recent Sunday stroll in the St Mary’s Gardens, behind ‘Tubes Night-Club, I was attracted to a particularly large and beautifully embellished stone of dark-grey Swithland slate which was exquisitely inscribed by an obviously skilled artisan. The name ‘WEAVER’ appended at the very bottom of the slab told me that it was crafted by Mr Samuel Weaver,  builder and stonemason/engraver then of Sage Cross Street and the year was likely 1859.  But I was not only attracted by the fine handiwork displayed, as what really drew my attention was the amount of script he had inserted into his allotted space.  As depicted in the above photograph, (and my transcript beneath), the names of no fewer that 11 children – 7 girls and 4 boys – all belonging to parents Frederick and Mary Tyler are shown, all of which had died at a very young age, some most likely at the time of their birth. The more I perused the still very readable script, the more I wondered whatever lay behind the tragic story of this ‘message’ of over 150 years ago.

You do the math.  I gave up on the task as I started to work out the ages or days lived by each of these eleven babies; perhaps you might like to work this out for yourself. Puzzled and ever inquisitive, I engaged in the task of discovering who this desperate couple might have been, especially the poor mother who had obviously suffered the bulk of the wasted endeavour and the long days, months and years of grieving and likely puzzlement of their own.  I can pretty well safely say that Mary spent at least 23 years in confinement and can assert that in this period of time she was to give birth to a grand total of no less than 17 children of which only 3 boys and 3 girls seem to have survived to adulthood. Bizarrely, five of these were comprised of the first five born to Mary.  The sixth survivor was a ‘Fred’ who was born much later in 1854 and who grew up to marry and have a family of his own.

Fred and Mary Tyler.

Mary Roell was a Melton Mowbray girl who married Frederick Tyler in the August of 1836. I believe that this family name is mis-spelled and should be ‘Rowell’, but I have gained no useful knowledge as to her family background.  Her first-born child was Mary, in 1836 and it is perhaps ironic that as a widow, she would be living with this particular daughter when she passed away at the age of 77 years.  Mary is on record as having been employed as a laundry worker, but I’m sure that she spent more time working as a mother!
In 1841, the couple are recorded as living in Scalford Road, Fred being shown as a publican and there are four children present, but ten years later in 1851 he is shown as a watch-maker by occupation and there are now five children, with baby Mary Jane only just born in February of 1851.  A change of address tells us that they were now living in their better known address of Sage Cross Street, possibly newly built.  A salient point to mention here is the fact that baby Mary Jane was by then her eleventh born child!  In 1861, the family is still in Sage Cross Street, next door to the builder’s yard of his friend, master mason, Robert Weaver and his family and it is possible that Sam had even crafted the family tombstone for them by then.  It is interesting to also note that at least three of the Tyler children were by now in their 20’s and what’s more, there was by now a one year old, Arthur, who was named as a ‘grandson’.
By 1871, the large Tyler family was still dwindling, with Fred and Mary still in charge there now remained with them only Emma, a widow at 29, but likely the mother of 10 years old Arthur who was still resident and shown as an ‘errand boy’.  I leave my search here of a family, totally irrelevant to me and of no particular personal interest, apart from me gaining an insight into a world now passed which seemed to have retained so many sad stories.  Mary was to die in March 1888 after Frederick who had passed some 8 years earlier at the age of 70.
That then, is the sad story behind the names on the beautiful gravestone which drew my intention. What follows is a potted history of the those burial grounds in Melton Mowbray up to the present day.

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