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Cath RJ
19-08-19, 11:55
There's a memorial to one of my ancestors in the churchyard of St. Michael's in Dumfries.

Anyone got any suggestions as to where to find who commissioned this quite large monument ?
It was some time after 1858 but before 1876.

Janet in Yorkshire
19-08-19, 12:20
As far as I'm aware, churches don't keep records of gravestones per se. However, sometimes the stones have the name of the firm of masons on them - if you're lucky, they might still be in business and have the relevant records and details (for adding additional names, carrying out repairs etc.) Bit of a long shot, but might be worth a try.

Bear in mind that memorials can be erected decades after a death and also that people named on a churchyard memorial may not have been buried there.

Jay

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 12:44
There's a memorial to one of my ancestors in the churchyard of St. Michael's in Dumfries.

Anyone got any suggestions as to where to find who commissioned this quite large monument ?
It was some time after 1858 but before 1876.

Cath, can you tell me who your relative is as I can easily nip in to main library and check the MI books. Gravestones usually have the name of the person who purchased the lair and stone at the top eg. Erected by Joe Bloggs in loving memory of his wife Jean Doe. If you can get back to me by return, I can also go up to St. Michael’s and get a photo if you would like one as it’s a nice day here at moment.

Cath RJ
19-08-19, 13:14
Thank you so much.
The monument is quite close to the Burns Memorial. It's red sandstone and the first person mentioned is Agnes Lee (again!).
It also mentions George Graham etc. Just underneath there is a sliver of stone which says Charles Graham, a baker. He was Agnes's husband who died later in 1869.

It was a bit difficult to read but we never thought to look for the name of the purchaser.

Got a photo already but it's not very clear - if you can manage a better one I'd be soooo grateful.

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 13:27
Will do. Hubby tells me that it’s persisting down in Dumfries so will take anorak with me. Don’t worry about that, I know my way around so it won’t take me too long to find it. Gives me the perfect excuse to go to town for a loaf of the bread I like LOL It’s still lovely here but have taken in the washing just in case.

Janet in Yorkshire
19-08-19, 13:49
Gosh, GL, wish my rellies came from the borders! Nothing like that available for any of the churchyards near me, although the municipal cemeteries might keep relevant records of gravestones.

Jay

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 16:05
Gosh, GL, wish my rellies came from the borders! Nothing like that available for any of the churchyards near me, although the municipal cemeteries might keep relevant records of gravestones.

Jay

Have you checked with any local FHS, they are usually the ones whose members do the MI recording and publish them either as CDs or paper booklets?

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 16:10
Thank you so much.
The monument is quite close to the Burns Memorial. It's red sandstone and the first person mentioned is Agnes Lee (again!).
It also mentions George Graham etc. Just underneath there is a sliver of stone which says Charles Graham, a baker. He was Agnes's husband who died later in 1869.

It was a bit difficult to read but we never thought to look for the name of the purchaser.

Got a photo already but it's not very clear - if you can manage a better one I'd be soooo grateful.

Quite close ?? It is right next to! Found it no problem. Managed to get a nice spell between the rain showers but that was a double edged sword for the photo shoot as the inscription is on the side that meant I had the sun right in my eyes but I am sure I got it all in bits as closeups and couple of shots for location purposes. Both my iPad and phone are dying so will upload this evening after dinner is out of the way :-)

Cath RJ
19-08-19, 17:10
Thank you so much. It's many years since I was there so I just remembered it being near the Burns one. I had the same problem with the sun when I tried to get a photo. I've just scrutinised my old photo with a magnifying glass but can't find any mention of a stone mason etc,

I hope you didn't get too wet on my behalf. I've been like a jack in the box today nursing my washing.
x

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 18:17
Sorry about any confusion over who the stonemason was. The person who commissioned the monument will either be Agnes’ husband or son. Unless one of the deceased on a large monument was an especially well known person and/or a public subscription was raised to purchase said monument you are not likely to find out who built/carved it. If it was such a one, there might be a chance that the name of the stonemason would be mentioned in a newspaper report of the erection of the monument particularly if it is a very elaborate one and it’s creator was thought to be worth a mention. Or, as is ever the way of the world, the mason knew the journalist and got a bit of free publicity LOL

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 18:19
Do you need a full transcription of the wording?

Cath RJ
19-08-19, 19:02
Many thanks for your efforts on my behalf. I just wish we could work out who commissioned the monument. There appears to have been no money in the family so I can't imagine how she came to have such a large memorial.

Her son, George, who is mentioned on the monument died just one year before her but appears second on the stone which makes me think it was one of Agnes's side of the family who paid for the stone. George died in an accident on the railway and there was a collection for his widow who was left with several children but I can't imagine she would have used the money for the monument.
(Surely she would have put George first as he died first.)
There was a long newspaper report at the time which mentions the great and the good of the town arranging a collection but it doesn't mention anything about a memorial.
It looks like this is another case of "we'll never know".

Thanks for the offer of a transcription of the wording but I have that already.
I keep hoping if I look every now and again there may be more information added on line !!

Sorry to ramble on but I thought you might like a bit of background information.

Again, very many thanks.

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 19:18
I was wondering if it was the one and the same George Graham who came to grief on the railway. A well known story to local history and railway buffs.
When I got there, there were three bods at the church door to welcome visitors and I managed to establish that the lair books are not kept on the premises which is a shame. I was going to ask where they were kept but they were gone by the time I was finished. But never fear, I will track them down as when I left, I looked at the board to see who the Session Clerk was. No phone number given but it’s none other than Esther Preston. That is news to me as I’m sure her name was not on the board the last time I was at St Michael’s which was last year when I attended the funeral of Esther’s husband John who was previously Regional Librarian and my former boss of many year’s standing. Perhaps she took on the job for something to do after his passing. I only met Esther in the passing a couple of times at social events, she tended to keep in the background. I will try to get the hold of her and see if I can be allowed to view the original register. That should show when the lair was first purchased and by whom.

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 19:19
I’m having bother uploading the photos, I keep getting a failed to upload message. Will let the device fully recharge and try again later.

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 20:08
This is worrying. I have downloaded them to my laptop and still can't get them to upload. I hope they are not corrupted as my iPad seems to have died and photos are not on my iPhone as they should be. I got them in iCloud ok so goodness knows what's wrong. Please PM me your email address and I will try that when I get home after pubquiz.

Cath RJ
19-08-19, 20:13
Thanks.
When George died, his youngest child, Thomas, was only a few months old. Thomas was my grandfather who died many years before I was born.

Thank you for going to so much trouble but as you can see this is very close family and not just a twig.

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 22:18
They have finally appeared on the iPhone. I am on my way home now. We won!

GallowayLass
19-08-19, 23:25
That’s them all gone now in two emails. Apologies that I have sent the view with the mausoleum twice. Hope they are ok.

Chrissie Smiff
20-08-19, 09:54
I just wanted to say how lovely it is to see members going the extra mile for others. Gold star for GL:)

Katarzyna
20-08-19, 09:56
Yes, well done GL :)

Cath RJ
20-08-19, 10:20
She has been an absolute star!!
Thanks Christine.
x

GallowayLass
20-08-19, 10:35
Aww shucks, it was a pleasure to help out. Dumfries is no prob. as it’s virtually on the doorstep. :-)

Janet in Yorkshire
21-08-19, 10:58
Have you checked with any local FHS, they are usually the ones whose members do the MI recording and publish them either as CDs or paper booklets?

Hi GL. MIs for practically every parish graveyard around me have been recorded and published by the local FHS and very useful they have been over the decades.:) Each record includes any monumental mason firm's name (if there is one) and later ones also include a cross reference with the burial register entries, which again is useful, as sometimes several generations were commemorated on the same stone although only part of the family were buried in the parish.
However, although I have been scouring church records and burial registers in my area for many years, I have never come across any records as to who placed the order for a gravestone to be erected. Most of our local churches have a burial plan, showing the location of each grave and who is interred there - that is very useful for identifying the location of unmarked graves, but often only goes back to the mid 1800s:) Due to the terrain, we only have single graves, although adjacent spaces were often left for widows/widowers - fairly recently the practice of reserving a specified space has been introduced (at a fee) and a stone with a name inscribed on it has to be put in place. This fee is for reservation only and at burial all the customary fees also have to be paid.
I have spoken to two former church wardens of my parish and they say that during their time of office, the church never kept any record of who ordered or made payments for the erection of gravestones. They were usually approached by one of the monumental mason businesses who then submitted a drawing of the stone and gave details of materials and inscriptions (they were always very familiar with what was/wasn't allowed by the diocese) and once the stone had been approved, the masons were shown the grave location, which they marked, and then carried out the work.
I think arrangements for interments and the erection of stones in civil cemeteries are different - I'm told you can view records of purchasers of graves, so probably they also keep records of who pays for the erection of stones.
Perhaps there are different arrangements for different denominations in different parts of the UK:question:

Jay

GallowayLass
21-08-19, 11:18
Hi Janet. I have never seen in any Scottish lair book that I have viewed, any mention of who commissioned/paid for a monumental stone. The detail is solely to do with the burials and the name of the owner of the lair. I have misunderstood your op, sorry.

Janet in Yorkshire
21-08-19, 15:04
No problems, GL. You got my genealogy juices going, lol. I thought perhaps you folk from Scotland had access to a genre of info not recorded by the C of E and so unavailable to those of us south of the border! :rotfl:

Jay

GallowayLass
23-08-19, 10:27
Sadly, Esther could not help.They don’t have their old lair books and she does not know where they are. Her suggestion was DGFHS. They have a wee shop and library in Glasgow Road so I’ll go there later this morning to see if they can shed any light on the matter.

GallowayLass
23-08-19, 13:46
Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs! as by beloved Gran used to say. The mighty historian of Dumfries, Mr. William McDowall is incorrect in his writings. On two counts as regards the Agnes Lee stone and possibly three.

1. There are only 3 sons of George Graham carved on the stone, McDowall says four.
2. He has not recorded Mary Thompson at the bottom of the stone.
3. (possibly) he has also missed the strip of stone underneath the main one that has Charles Graham’s name and death year. As this bit is upside down, I think it’s likely that this bit may have come from another stone and when the book was published, it was not in it’s current location. However, I checked the index for the Graham family name and at the time of publication there were only four graves with that surname on them. I have snapped them all in case they turn out to be members of your family that you haven’t yet got.

As to the whereabouts of the lair books - I am told these should be in the care of the local council. As they are at the wonderfully mis named Cargen Towers LOL, I will call there on my way home as I go right past it.

Once again, photos of the pages from the book are failing to upload from my phone. Grrr! Will see to that tonight for you.

GallowayLass
23-08-19, 15:43
No luck at Cargen Towers, the relevant bod is having Bank Holiday off. Will need to wait till mid September now till after my hols as next week is chocka

Cath RJ
23-08-19, 15:56
Thanks,
I've taken the entry in McDowell's book (page 100) with a pinch of salt after seeing the stone for myself but at least it gave me another on line pointer before I visited Dumfries. Unfortunately that was a quick visit many years ago on our way home from Glasgow and my husband was with me and he has absolutely no interest in family history so I had to be very selective in where I visited.

PS Just seen your last post. Hopefully something will turn up later.
I can't thank you enough for all your trouble.

GallowayLass
24-08-19, 10:22
You will have page 100 already.

20204

20205

20206

20207

20208

GallowayLass
24-08-19, 10:29
While looking for a death notice for Charles Graham, which I did not find, I came across this death of his son Thomas in York.

20209

GallowayLass
24-08-19, 11:20
As to the slab lying on the ground at the other side of the Agnes Lee stone, my former colleagues and I were having a good confab about it yesterday. A second close look reveals that it is not a slab type stone that was meant to lie flat on the ground. There are curved corners at the end furthest from the back of Agnes’ stone. It was once upright and has fallen over or been coming dangerously loose and has been laid down, unfortunately on its face. Look at the size and shape of the stone and compare it with the mark on the back of Agnes’ stone. A perfect fit, we think.
The graveyard MI transcriptions list this as lair B2 and Agnes as B3. I have enclosed images of the transcriptions for nos. B2 and 4 so you can check the names to see if either of the two either side of yours are connected to your family is any way.
The date of Agnes’ stone will probably remain a mystery but our collective opinion was that most likely it was paid for either by a fundraising (I think you mentioned that in a newspaper) or from the compensation that George’s widow would eventually receive so she would have commissioned it. We all think the bit of upside down stone with Charles’ name and occupation is from a different stone and that McDowall has simply not seen it. It is of a different colour of sandstone and the carving of a different vintage to the large stone above. It could well be all that was salvaged from an older stone on the same plot which most likely contained Agnes, Charles, their infant children and Mary Thomson who was Agnes Lee’s mother.
The only fly in the ointment that we can see in the above theory is that is would date the stone to after 1869 when Charles died and also his grandson Charles George aged 19 who is presumably the same one listed on the main stone.

20210



Grrr! 2nd image won’t load.
Will hopefully get some luck at Cargen Towers when I eventually get there.
Where is George’s wife buried? Are there any clues there? Did she remarry?

Cath RJ
24-08-19, 13:20
George's wife, Mary Strong, died aged 61 in 1883 . At the time she was living in Borough Road, Tranmere, Merseyside.
Very many family members seem to have moved to the area before then.

I already had the info re Thomas Graham who died in York and quite a bit about him too. I even have a passport photo for one of his grandsons who looks just like my Dad!!

"The plot thickens."

Cath RJ
24-08-19, 13:36
Sorry, Forgot to say thanks for the book pages but none of the names ring a bell. Most of my Grahams were Charles, George or Thomas with a possible Peter being the father of Charles, baker, who was born in Edinburgh 1792.

GallowayLass
30-09-19, 13:20
Bad news Cath. Got a reply from council chap. They don’t have any lair books for the St. Michael’s kirkyard. None of their holdings go that far back in date.

Cath RJ
30-09-19, 18:38
Thanks you so much, Christine, for all your help.
Looks like it will have to remain a mystery.