‘Weep not for me your sighs and tears are vain’
In the quiet leafy churchyard of St. Everilda’s church in Nether Poppleton I came across this beauty:
Husband farewell and earthly friends adieu
What in my power I’ve done for you
My debt is paid, sec
urely now I rest
And trust through Jesus’ merits be blest
Weep not for me your sighs and tears are vain
I hope in heaven we all shall meet again
The headstone is written in memory of Jane Bewley, wife of John Bewley of the city of York. She died at the age of 51 on 22 January 1703.
Like many headstones this one is losing out in its battle against time and weather and the bottom row of lettering is becoming illegible.
It is a beautiful poem and captures the love of a woman for her friends and husband before she died. The age of 51 to us seems a very young age to die but historians claim that overall in the eighteenth century the life-expectancy at birth was 35 years of age. This however is an average due to high rates of infant death. If anybody made it past their teenage years they were likely to live into their fifties. Jane was a lady who had seen a lot of death and has inscribed on her tombstone that she hopes to meet her friends in heaven again.