Cemeteries of the Wrexham District 2 - St. Giles Churchyard
(from Issues 52, 54 & 56 of Hel Achau 1997)
With a view of continuing our article on the cemeteries and churchyards of the district, we this week paid a brief visit to our venerable Parish. Church, whose historical associations and monumental records of past generations render it an object of especial interest to all who are in any way associated with Wrexham and its neighbourhood. Although it is our chief intention to notice the tombs of some of the most memorable of former residents who now rest within its sacred precincts, where -Beneath those rugged elms - that yew-tree's shade,
A word or two, nevertheless, with reference to the church itself may not be out of place. The beautiful edifice is justly described by an old writer as an elegant structure, and one which may justly rank with cathedrals. The church was erected upon the site of one destroyed by fire about the year 1457, and exhibits a specimen of design, proportion and chaste decoration not surpassed by any edifice built in the time of Henry VII. It was finished about the year 1472, except the tower, which was not completed till nearly 34 years afterwards. The height of the tower is 135 feet, and statues of 30 saints are placed in niches of the buttresses, one of these representing the patron, St. Giles, with a hind by his side. A fine painting representing the Lord's Supper by Rubens, and a picture by the same artist of David playing on the harp before Saul, were presented to the church by Elihu Yale, Esq., the founder of the Yale College in America. His remains lie under a plain altar tomb in the churchyard close to the west door, the following inscriptions being on the stone-
Elihu Yale, Esq.,
Was buried the 22nd July,
The year of our Lord 1721
On the opposite side are these lines.
Born in America, in Europe bred,
In Africa travelled, and in Asia wed,
Where long he lived and thrived: in London dead.
Much good, some ill, he did: so hope all's even,
And that his son through mercy's gone to heaven
You that survive and read, timely take care
For this more contain exit to prepare:
Where blest in peace the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the mouldering dust.
An inscription on one end of the tomb states that it was "Restored by the authorities of Yale College, U.S., 1874".
Amongst other tombs on either side the avenue leading to the principal entrance is one close to the handsome ornamental iron gates, erected to the memory of Richard Roberts Francis, son of John and Ann Francis, of Wrexham, who died in February 1849, on his passage to Western Australia, in his 27th year. We believe this family is connected with the Francis' of Brynedwyn. A few yards distant a heavy tombstone enclosed by iron railings marks theresting place of George Liddell, a well known rope manufacturer, of Wrexham, who died in 1849, in his 76th year; and near the entrance to the church is a large stone to the memory of the Prices of Berse, bearing dates from 1742, 17867, 1-796, down to 1828. Adjoining is a tomb to the memory of Wm. Williams, curate of Wrexham in 1827, who was buried at Glanconway (of which place he was subsequently the rector) in 1827. Close by is the tomb of Jane Walters, daughter of the Rev. John Walters, M.A., head-master of Ruthin Grammar School, who died April 1808, and on the same stone is recorded the death of Ed. Davies, mercer, of Wrexham, in August 1777. In the immediate vicinity is an altar tomb to the memory of Thomas Humphreys, and Florence, his wife, formerly master and matron of the Wrexham Workhouse. On the opposite side of the church walk is a stone to the memory of several members of the Gilpin family, who died in the years 1779, 1793, 1823 and 1827; the same stone recording the death in 1843 of Mary, the wife of Tubal Cain Jones, of Wrexham. Near the entrance gate is a tomb to the memory of John Mitchell, late of Plas Golborn, who died in June 1840, and who was in his day a well-known auctioneer of Wrexham. Close adjoining is a massive tombstone of unpolished marble to the memory of the Hussey family, bearing date 1772, and erected by their son Vere Warner Hussey. A yard or so distant from the tomb of Elihu Yale, a stone records the death of James Cowper, "late clerk of Wrexham parish", who died February 1828, and nearly opposite is a tomb to the memory of William Avery, of Redditch, Worcestershire, bearing the date 1821, and on which is inscribed the following verse:-
Stay, traveller, and behold the spot
That fate's appointed for my lot,
Nor think, though young, thyself secure,
Since time is short, and death is sure.
The race is short, I had to run,
Life's morning probed my setting sun:
Torn from wife and children dear,
Far from that home which I revere;
Yet think not I despise my God-
His hand I won and kiss the rod.
Leaving the old parish churchyard for a while, we re-entered the grand old church itself and devoted some time within its sacred precincts to an inspection of the various monuments, memorial tablets, brasses and medallions, which cover the time-honoured walls of the venerable pile-records of bye-gone generations, the contemplation of which recalls to mind the poet Thomson's epitaph on Miss Stanley:-
Yes, we must follow soon, will glad obey;
When a few suns have roll'd their cares away
Tired with vain life, will close the willing eye;
Tis the great birth-right of mankind to die.
Amongst the most conspicuous of these memorials to the departed, with which the cathedral-like interior is enriched, is the well-known splendid monument by Roubilliac, occupying a position in the north aisle, to the memory of Mrs. Mary Middleton (daughter of Sir Richard, and sister to Sir William Myddleton, of Chirk Castle), who died April 8th, 1747 aged 59. The monument, which was erected by William Lloyd, Esq., of Plas Power, her executor and devisee, bears an inscription recording that the deceased lady, "by a life of true religion and virtue, illustrated the eminence derived from birth, and the advantages glowing from an excellent education, her superior understanding and great politeness ever commanded the highest respect and esteem: her amiability and unaffected benevolence rendered her delightful and amiable to all; in her principles unshaken in her friendship steady; constant in her charity, the misfortunes of other she felt with compassionate tenderness and relieved with a generosity truly magnificent, so that her conduct in this life demonstrated how steadfastly she had fixed her hopes upon a better." A writer in the beginning of the present century, in describing this monument, says "The person represented died a withered woman, but she is arising in full of youth and beauty; the figure most interesting and graceful, the attitude correct and the drapery chaste. In a word, the toute ensemble of this effigy is exquisitely fine and may justly be ranked with the artiste's statue of eloquence to John, Duke of Argyle, in Westminister Abbey, his Handel in Vauxhall Gardens, and George I, in the Senate-house at Cambridge". A little lower down the aisle, we came to three beautiful marble monuments to the memory of the Pulestons, of Hafodywern. The first of these records the death, in 1776, at the age of 34, of Philip Puleston, a descendant from the very ancient family of the Pulestons, of Emral, Flintshire. The second tablet, to the memory of Mary (relict of Philip Puleston and daughter of Richard Davies of Lanerch), who died in September 1802, bears the following record of the deceased lady's virtues:- "She was equally distinguished by strength of understanding and benevolence of heart; by piety, rational, fervent, habitual; by charity, ever ready to relieve and comfort the distressed, to convince and reconcile the discordant; and to forego the pursuits, the amusements, and repose she delighted in for the sake of those whom she loved". The third monument is erected to the memory of Richard Puleston, Esq., of Hafodywern, who died in November 1804, the inscription bearing similar testimony to the worth of the deceased.
Near the pulpit - a beautiful structure of carved stone-work, granite, and unpolished marble, the gift of the late Peter Walker, Esq., during his mayoralty in 1867 - are two recently erected and elaborately decorated brass plates, bearing respectively the following inscriptions: - "In memory of Charles Arthur Baldwin Kingvett Leighton, 1st Battalion R.W.F., who died at Naini, Tal. N.W.P., India, on the 8th May, 1889, erected by his brother officers"; and "In memory of Lieut. Charles Lysons, F. Company 1st Battalion R.W.F., who died on active service while commanding a detachment of his regiment at Katha, Upper Burmah, on 19th April 1886, aged 2- years, erected by the non-commissioned officers and men of his Company". Between these brasses is the beautifully carved memorial tablet erected by their comrades of all ranks to the memory of the gallant privates of the 23rd Welch Fusiliers - J. Brooks, J. McQue, G. Mcpherson, W. Phillips, J Tourish and C. Baker, also Surgeon E.T. McCarthy - who died serving their country during the Ashanti Campaign of 1873-1874.
Adjoining is a handsome tablet of brass and marble to Col. James de Vic. Tupper, 2nd Battalion R.W.F., who died in 1881, after a service of 27 years and having served with distinction in the Crimean, Indian Mutiny, and Ashanti Campaigns.
The chancel contains finely executed monuments to the memory of the Lloyds of Plas Power, erected by Thomas Fitzhugh, Esq., a memorial to Thomas Fitzhugh himself, who died in 1800, bearing the inscription, "Beloved by all who had the happiness of knowing him - his children must revere his memory and deplore his loss". There is also on the north side of the chancel a medallion containing two profile likenesses, in strong relief of the Rev. Thomas Middleton, of Gwaynynog, who died in 1795, and his wife Arabella Hacker, the drapery of this piece of sculpture being excellent.
Upon an altar-shaped monument in the chancel lies a full-robed figure representing Hugh Bellot, successively bishop of Bangor and Chester, who died at Berse in 1596. He is described as a great linguist, and as having in conjunction with other learned men, borne a distinguished part in translating the Old and New Testaments into English.
At the east end of the south aisle the visitor will find an object of considerable interest in a very ancient monument erected to Sir Richard Lloyd, governor of Holt Castle during the great Rebellion and afterwards Chief Justice of North Wales. "A devoted subject and servant of the Royal Martyr Charles I", whom he received at Brynyffynnon, Wrexham, in the year 1642. The inscription records that the deceased Knight was married in September, 1632 and died in May, 1676.
Along the south aisle are a number of splendid marble tablets to the Llwyn Onn family, and one imposing monument bears the inscription - "This monument, the pious tribute of her disconsolate husband, was erected to the memory of Ann Wilkinson, late wife of Mr. John Wilkinson, iron master. She died Nov. 17, 1756, aged 23." Other well-known names appear on the venerable walls, including those of Alexander Murray, Brymbo Hall, 1835; W. Poynton, tanner, Wrexham, 1766; Jno. Foulkes, solicitor, Wrexharn, 1833; Ed. Wettnall, jun., late timber merchant, Wrexham, 1766; Wm Moore, Little Erddig, 1797; &c.
At the west end, near the organ loft, a small marble tablet bears the following quaint inscription:-
Daniel Jones dy'd ye 13th day of Feb., 1668
Here lies interred beneath these stones
The beard, ye flesh, and eke ye bones
Of Wrexham clark, old Daniel Jones.
In the choir, opposite the magnificent monument to Sir Foster Cunliffe, of Acton Park, who died in 1834, and of his wife Harriet (daughter of Sir David Kinlock, Bart.), who died in 1830, is an exquisite white marble memorial tablet, inscribed with gold letters, to the memory of Mary Ellen, wife of Archibald Peel, and daughter of Sir Roger and Lady Palmer, who died in 1863.
Amongst the numerous brasses, both plain and ornamental. which are affixed to the walls and pillars, we noticed one to the memory of Hugh, Lord Viscount Primerose, and Ann, his wife; another to Humphrey Lloyd, of Bersham, one of the Masters in Chancery Extraordinary, who died in December, 1673; one, again, to Thomas Hughes, Llwynonn, May, 1809; whilst on a pillar in the north aisle a small plate bears the following quaintly worded piece of information.
Here lyes a Church Warden
A choyce flower in that garden,
Joseph Critchley by name,
Who died in good fame;
Being gone to Rest
Without doubt he is blest.
He dyed the 10th March 1676, aged 37.
Having duly inspected the interior of the church with its mural records and many objects of antiquarian interest, we returned to the churchyard and continued our explorations amongst the tombs. Without attempting to give anything approaching a complete list of the inscriptions on the various stones (many of which are almost entirely obliterated by the hand of time) we may enumerate a few which will probably be of interest to those of our readers who are familiar with the past history of the town and neighbourhood.
In addition to the tombs we have already noticed on each side of the entrance avenue, are those of the Price's of Berse, bearing various dates from 1742 down to 1828; Edward Williams, "formerly in office of her Majesty's Customs, London", died Aug., 1827; Elizabeth Munslow, late of the Hand Inn (1843); Jonathan Brown, grocer, High-street, Wrexham died March, 1799 (premises now occupied by Mr. Benson); Richard Hughes, draper (1853); William Jones, late of Green Man, who died in May 1799; Thomas Edisbury, of Brook-street House, Wrexham (1846), and his son, Thomas who died of yellow fever at South Carolina, U.S., Oct., 1852; also, after a residence of 17 years at Casallis, Sydney, New South Wales, William Edisbury, who died in that colony in March, 1858; Edward Jones, Brymbo (1829); Elizabeth Weaver (1824); John Weaver (1855); Edward Morgan, Sontley (1824); Hester Williams, of Frood (1856); William Samuel, governor of the Poorhouse, Wrexham, who died March, 1830; also to the memory of William Humphreys (who formerly kept the Sun Inn) - "Life how short, eternity how long". Not far distant lie the remains of "Thomas Smith, of Hafodwern, gentleman, who died January, 1786, at the age of 75, and. whose abilities as a practical miner must be long remembered and revered in this country". Adjoining is a tomb to the memory of Ann Owens, who died in 1842 at the age of 42 years; underneath the date is the following inscription:-
Here rests in peace a much-lamented child,
Of manners gentle and of temper mild:
Prompts to obey, no wisdom's path she trod,
And early knew her Saviour and her God.
Amongst the other tombs in the vicinity is one to the memory of Edward Edwards, late solicitor of Wrexham, who died in March 1831; the inscription recording that the deceased was "A strictly honest man of business, and a sincere and devoted Churchman - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". Another stone records the death of Thomas Dixon, Excise officer (died 1870), whose remains are interred at Shrewsbury. Adjoining is a tomb to the memory of John Samuel Edwards (son of the late Vicar of Llanarmon-yn-Yale), who died in July 1844. Amongst other tombs are those to the memory of John Hayes, watchmaker, Wrexham (1822); John Jones, hatter, Wrexham (1812); Charles Rogers, shoemaker, Wrexham (1806); Thomas Jones, Penybryn, flax-dresser, who died in October, 1854 (father of the late Mr. Thos. Jones, auctioneer); Charles Bowen, auctioneer (1847), John Bowen, grocer (1766), and John Bowen, grazier (1820), all of Wrexham. On the tomb of Wm. Owen, whitesmith (May, 1855) is the following verse:-
No verse of praise write on my tomb,
Since there is judgment yet to come;
Leave all to God, who justly knows,
And more than we desire, bestows
Mrs. Susannah Eddowes, spinster, who died June 5th, 1751, must have been a most exemplary lady judging from the following inscription:-
Her merit great, her virtue pure,
Her life know no excess
Her conduct such as must secure
The following verses appear on the tomb of Mr. Joshua Eddowes, late linen draper, who died June 4, 1751:-
Death from his friends too quickly tore
Just in the bloom of youth
Him to whom grace could add no more
Of virtue, prudence, truth
Lamenting friends in vain may plead
In vain too, shed their tears
O'er him who's safely lodged indeed
Beyond the power of fears
Beloved he liv'd lamented dy'd
To live of dye resigned
Since every hour he liv'd he try'd
To regulate his mind
Reader, excuse these feeble lays,
Confessedly most weak;
When tongues are dumb in virtue's praise,
Unbreathing stones may speak.
Amongst other mural inscriptions we select the following:- A flat stone on the north side of the church on which can only be traced the name "Edward Pennant". He died May, 1777, and formerly lived at the house known as the Hat Inn, Charles-street. Stone to the memory of Jno. Jones, of Bryn Deynedd, attorney at law, died June 1815. Monument at east end of church in memory of Rev. Mr. Thos. Lloyd of Plas Power (1734), and his wife Elizabeth,daughter of John Leche, Esq., of Cawarden, Cheshire (1746), Robert Samuel (Nov., 1787) -
Judge not rashly, for man is apt to halt
The best of men died not without their fault.
On the south side of the church is a tomb to the memory of "Francis James Hughes, Esq., M.D., of Horseley Hall, in the parish of Gresford, late of Acton House, who died Oct. 20, 1886 aged 68. He was appointed deputy-Lieutenant of the county of Denbigh in the year 1819, and was High Sheriff to that county in 1852. He was also for many years chairman of the Wrexham bench of Magistrates, and ever tempered justice with mercy". Another stone in the west part of the churchyard records the death of the Rev. James Hastings, M.A. (late Dean of Athenry, Ireland), in July, 1828; and near the tower a flat stone is inscribed "John Downman, Esq., member of the Royal Academy, London" died Dec., 1824. Mr. Palmer, in his interesting history of Wrexham Church, says many of the artist's sketches are preserved at Acton Hall. At the north-west corner of the tower is a monument, "Sacred to the memory of Richard Pate Manning Esq." who died on the 1st January, 1853 aged 78 years". In connection with this mural record we must refer to the to a tablet erected in the church "to the memory of Thomas Jones, of Wrexham, in the County of Denbigh, Esq., who died October 26th, 1799 and the intimate association of these two monuments is best explained by the following extract from Mr. Palmer's valuable book:- "Capt. Thomas Jones, of Willow House, Pont Tuttle, Wrexham, shot in a duel at Whitchurch, with Mr. Richard Pate Manning, surgeon, of Whitchurch. Mr. Manning was Capt. Jones' ward, and the dispute which ended so fatally related to the disposition of some property in which they were both interested. Mr. Manning was afterwards tried for manslaughter, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Capt. Jones (captain in the Merionethshire militia, and described in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1799 as a cornet of then Wrexham cavalry) was son of Maria Margarctta, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Longueville, Bart., of Esslus Hall, by her husband, a certain Mr. John (or Thomas) Jones. Captain Jones's eldest son, Thomas Longueville Jones, who afterwards assumed the surname of Longueville, was the father of Mr. Thos. Longueville, of Penylan, near Oswestry. His second son, Edward was the father of the Rev. Harry Longucville Jones, M.A., for many years editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis.