The Livermore Tombs, Barnston, Essex

The Livermore Tombs, Barnston, Essex

These tombstones in the churchyard at Barnston, Essex, tell a sad tale. Four of the daughters of Edward and Sarah Livermore died young: the first, Martha Susannah, died of 'a slow decline' at the age of fourteen in 1827. Thirteen years later, in 1840, Emma, age 22, was thrown from her horse. Eight months after that, Jane, nineteen, died of a heart attack, closely followed by sixteen-year-old Maria who succumbed to smallpox. Kenneth Rowntree's deliberately prosaic and finely detailed view not only gives an insight into the fates of the Livermore daughters, but also provides a valuable record of the appearance of a typical country churchyard before the mass clearances of the 1950s and 1960s. Not only was much local social history lost, the gravestones themselves, fine examples of the mason's craft, were often broken up.