Headstones and History

dearloves

I came across this photo while browsing through images tagged “Dearlove” on Flickr a while ago. Someone had been taking a stroll through St. Leonard’s Church in Leverington, UK, and came across this interesting grouping of headstones (for a larger version, click here).

I find the image a little haunting, and the story it tells is quite sad. Thomas and Elizabeth Dearlove had a daughter, Rebecca, who passed away in June 1796 at the age of 12. Just a few years later, Thomas died on April 18, 1799 at the age of 55. His wife died four days later.

The final headstone belongs to Elizabeth Tate, the daughter of John and Sarah Dearlove. She died in 1827 at the age of 23, and there is also a reference to the death of George, her infant son.

Given the passage of time, I suppose it’s impossible to find out what happened to each of these people. Did the younger Elizabeth die during childbirth, or was she stricken with some illness that also took the life of her child? Did Thomas and Elizabeth succumb to the same disease? It must have been devastating to lose a child and a husband in such a short period – maybe Elizabeth took her own life.

It’s interesting how times are changing. For most of history, only the most basic information about an individual’s life remains – date of birth, baptismal records, date of marriage, and date of death. Expect in rare instances, we are left to flesh out the rest of the details using only our imagination.

Will genealogy be as interesting when our ancestors have instant access to blog posts, Twitter updates, Facebook profiles and Flickr photos? Does anyone really want to see pictures of a drunk Great Grandma flashing her cleavage at a kegger when she was 19?

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