An eccentric Lincolnshire vicar

This is a man who just keeps on giving! We have previously looked at Samuel Oliver, the vicar of Whaplode church in Lincolnshire when Jo discovered his weather reports jotted down in the parish registers, then I found myself back there whilst researching The Regency Poisoning of Mary Biggadike and was fascinated and slightly amused and slightly shocked by some of his comments in the burial registers from 1812 onward.

Country Characters. Thomas Rowlandson. MetMuseum
Country Characters. Thomas Rowlandson. MetMuseum

For any genealogist who searches through burial registers, you will no doubt be aware that many simply have the basic information, name and possibly their age.

Samuel Oliver’s registers were far more detailed, whilst providing the basics he also gave their address and next of kin/family, occupation, then any comments he wanted to share within the confines of the register. Little did he know that centuries later they would be viewed by all and sundry!

The Church of St Mary, Whaplode. The east end of the church. © Copyright Dave Hitchborne (Geograph) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

They were too good not to share with you. We gain a real insight into what he thought of his flock, in his colourful descriptions.  Clearly, once they died he felt free to make his views known in the burial register I wonder if the grieving family knew what he thought?

So here we go:

Sarah, illegitimate daughter of Mary Roe, or Rose buried 24th March 1814.

This corpse remained nearby for a fortnight unburied, through the obstinacy of its mother and her friends.

John Rose, a pauper. Buried February 4th, 1817.

This immoral young man, after dissipating a handsome property, lived miserable and dyed (sic) wretched.

Ambrose Edward Lunn, Yeoman. 5th September 1821.

This man was for many years the officiating parish schoolmaster ‘till compelled to decline teaching!!! As he lived, so he died!!! in ethnicism

A Country Burial Lewis Walpole Library
A Country Burial. Lewis Walpole Library

Edward Palmer. Buried 14th December 1818.

This man has been, for several years, the longest inhabitant in the parish, but one; i.e. about 50 years resident.

Elizabeth Hardy, a blind pauper of the workhouse buried 19th January 1817.

This unfortunate young woman attempting to play with John Palin, a poor deranged man in the workhouse, he suddenly plunged a knife into her throat which entering under one ear end coming out under the other, caused her instant death.

Sarah Cooke, buried 5th March 1827.

She had been the mother of twenty children.

George Nutt, a farmer, buried 16th July 1816.

This man, a few years ago, out of frolic, took a half hogshead cask full of ale, in his hands, lifted it up to his head, and drunk out of the bung hole!!! He has left two sons, each of them able to do the same thing!!!  (a hogshead barrel contained 64 gallons of beer).

Henry son of Dorothy Copeland (widow), buried aged 5 on 13th September 1826.

The Copeland family is now extinct, in this parish! Sec commands exemplified????

John Barker, pauper. Buried 6th April 1829.  A worthy pious Christian

Joseph Culy, yeoman. Buried 6th October 1821.

I’m not quite sure of the translation of the Latin phrase, but roughly, I believe it’s describing him in not very complimentary terms as a wretch in death. If anyone is able to translate the phrase, we would love to hear from you.

Robert Collins Fisher, living in the workhouse. Buried 21st September 1829.

An audacious abandoned reprobate. This burial was conducted by Rev. N. Cogswell, but the footnote is clearly an addition!

Stephen Richardson. Buried 26th September 1827.

A poor ignorant profligate wretch; pretending to be an infidel!!!

Theophilus Thomas Smith. 30th March 1828.

An ignorant, presumptuous, profligate infidel.

And … finally, we have

John Limbard, a gardener, buried 31st December 1833.

A drunken, scurrilous blasphemer completely worn out with dissipation and immorality.

The Country Vicar's Fire Side.
The Country Vicar’s Fire Side. © The Trustees of the British Museum

24 thoughts on “An eccentric Lincolnshire vicar

  1. Joseph Culy: Improvident in live, he must be removed by death.

    It’s very very doggy latin but I think the misserimus is meant to be the gerundive of misserire to remove, I think he is trying for a bilingual pun on miser

    …. do you have the weather data or is it online anywhere?

    I think this vicar is even more intolerant and outspoken than William Holland, which is going some. Fascinating, thank you!


    1. Sarah Murden

      Thanks as always Sarah. The weather data can be found in the highlighted link on the post to Samuel Oliver. We did receive an email, a while ago from one of his lovely ancestors, so I’m wondering what she’ll make of this article 🙂


  2. Goodness, he didn’t mince his words! I’m not a Latin scholar but I think possibly the Latin text you queried might mean ‘most excessive in life, blackest in death’, assuming he meant nigerrimus rather than migerrimus. Happy to be corrected!


    1. Sarah Murden

      He certainly didn’t. As I said, he’s the gift that keeps on giving. I would love to have met him though, he strikes me as quite a character. Thanks for the translation, I think we can safely assume that the vicar didn’t approve of this member of his flock! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah Murden

      You’re very welcome. Rev Oliver is definitely the gift that just keep on giving. I wonder what on earth he would think if he knew that his private thoughts/comments were now being shared with the world? 🙂


  3. Marshall Woods

    I believe that a hogshead cask contains 64 gallons, not 64 pints. Farmer Nutt could lift a wooden barrel containing about 250 pounds of beer, and drink from the bung! I’m sure he and his sons were good friends to have when work needed to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Paige

    Regarding Henry Copeland’s entry, Oliver’s comment was not “Sec commands” but sec[ond] command[men]t. Which, depending on how the C of E numbers them, is either about graven images or taking the Lord’s name in vain. Also interesting to note that for the man who died “in ethnicism,” his original comment (per the scan) said he died “a monster,” before he edited it. Wonder if that was a reference to the reason the man was *compelled* (which he underlined) to give up teaching?


    1. Sarah Murden

      “Sec commands” – yes I think someone else had also suggested that 🙂 I wonder if he felt bad about calling him a monster, so crossed through it?


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