Part one of this article explored the first deaths included in James Brown’s poem The Warning Voice, but he had not yet concluded his tale!
The young woman
The next to fall ill was a young woman whose mother had outlived two husbands and long been a widow. Mother and daughter ran a general stores selling, among other things, cheese, bacon, candles, fine starch, washing blue, black lead, butter, eggs, pudding spice, home-baked bread, as well as corn, flour and bran. The daughter, described as kind and intelligent, appeared strong and healthy but was taken ill and died in the space of about 30 hours. Again it must be assumed that she was buried in the Baptist graveyard, from the location of her final resting-place as “outside the chapel door.”
The carrier’s wife
Then it is the turn of the carrier’s wife, apparently strong and healthy, although it was claimed she’d often felt unwell. Her health started to decline and efforts to save her life were of no avail. The evidence of the funeral service being read by the parson in a white surplice suggests she was buried in the churchyard. The most likely candidate from the burial records is Sarah Williamson, aged 49, who was buried on 13th January 1876, but with so little to go on, it is difficult to be certain.
The family of Farmer S
Finally there is the sad tale of Farmer S— and his family. Farmer S—, we are told, had suffered ill health for some years and seemed unlikely to recover, despite the best efforts of the medical profession. As he is nearing his end, his wife, “much younger than himself” is suddenly taken ill one night and dies, leaving two young children. He survives her by only a few days and the two are buried side by side. You can still see their gravestone in the area on the south side of the church, commemorating Annie Smith, aged 27, who died 3rd April 1876 and was buried on 7th April, also William Smith, aged 37 (though the burial register gives his age as 34) who died 7th April and was buried on April 11th.
There was further tragedy for the family, however, as the eldest child, grief-stricken for her mother, died a few weeks later and was buried alongside her parents. No obvious clues in the burial register but when I went to find the parents’ headstone, all became clear, for adjacent to it was an identical headstone bearing the names of not one but two children. The first, Annie Smith died August 28th aged 2 years and 10 months, followed shortly after by her brother William Smith who died February 24th 1877 aged 1 year and 5 months. The latter is clearly recorded in the burial register as John William Smith, aged 18 months, residing in Warton and buried on February 28th 1877. Annie’s details are more elusive but she must surely be the child named as Annie PORTER, aged 2, who was buried in Warton on August 31st 1876 but said to be residing in Castle Donington, most probably taken in by a relative.
Here the saga ends, with repeated admonitions to the readers to examine their own lives and shortcomings to ensure they are ready for heaven. Clearly some of the residents were afflicted by some swift and virulent disease, possibly cholera or typhoid fever. Further research will hopefully clarify the situation.
This article was originally printed in The Dove, the parish magazine of the Parish of All Souls, North Warwickshire (summer edition, May to July 2014) .