This is a transcript of a Memorial Inscription at Netherthong Parish Church near Holmfirth.
We are currently running a project to publish these records and would love a translation of this inscription. Just learning which language its will be helpful.
If anyone can help then feel free to use the comment below or email email@example.com.
Eventually the full story emerged and was published in the July 2016 Issue of the Society Journal:
Mystery at Netherthong
An intriguing post appeared on the Society Forum last October concerning a Memorial Inscription in Netherthong All Saints Church graveyard. The church situated near Holmfirth, is part of a project organised by the Society to transcribe Memorial Inscriptions and make them available for researchers.
The inscription was intriguing because it appeared to have been written in some form of runic alphabet. The inscription can be seen on the Forum at www.hdfhs.org.uk/netherthong. A comment made by Susan Hutson stated –
“This is the grave of a Welshman Dr Thomas James (1817-1879) who for a long time was the Vicar of All Saints Netherthong. Everyone seemed to think the script was Runic but although there are similarities and many of the letters appear to match the Runic alphabet it is more complicated than that. It was learnt from an Examiner account of Dr James funeral that Dr James was a founder member of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society and they advised contacting the National Library of Wales. They passed on the key to the alphabet which was invented in the 19th century by a man calling himself Iolo Moranwg and he pretended that it was used by the Druids for smuggling messages past their Roman enemies.”
She also located a transcription that had been made by Orwain Rhys of the Museum of Wales of the north side of the tomb which had been translated from the runes into Welsh and then into English. It read –
“ Also Thomas James, MA, LL.D for 33 years priest of this parish. He was born August 23 1817. He died August 3 1879”
Unfortunately the transcription for the south side of the tomb was missing!
The first word of the north inscription was ‘Also’, which in implied that the south side of the tomb referred to someone else who had been buried there previously. But whom?
Further research revealed that Thomas James married a Jane Hamnett of Plymouth on 29th October 1870 and they were both resident at the Vicarage, Netherthong on the census of1871. A search of the Huddersfield Chronicle for August 3rd 1872 revealed a report of the sudden death at the Vicarage in Netherthong on 29th July 1872 of Jane James following a thunderstorm (suspected epileptic fit). This information, together with burial at the church on 1st August 1872 would suggest that Jane was the other occupant of the tomb, but this could only be confirmed by a full transcription of the runes on the south side of the tomb.
Owain Rhys at the Museum of Wales was very helpful. He remembered the transcription, but unfortunately no longer had it in his possession. He sent a copy of the runes and offered to either re transcribe or check any transcription that might be obtained. Having found some key words using a Welsh to English dictionary, the inscription began to emerge-
“tombstone Jane wife Thomas James vicar this parish …..dead….July…..
The full and final transcription supplied by Dylan Foster Evans from the University of Cardiff, a colleague of Owain Rhys, reads –
“This is the tombstone of Jane wife of Thomas James Priest of this parish she died July 29 1872 aged 46”
So a mystery solved. Further information about the Reverend Thomas can be found in www.undergroundhistories.wordpress.com and the Annals of the Church of Almondbury Hulbert C (1864)
Let’s hope the MI transcription group have an easier task with their other projects. If you think you might have an ancestor buried in our area, several graveyard plans and lists of Memorial Inscriptions, (other than the ones under transcription by the team), have been donated to the Society. The list can be seen in Section 3 of the Library List which is available at The Root Cellar or via the website. These are reference only but you are unable to visit in person the Librarian can undertake a look up. Contact:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Maureen Wheeler, Librarian