I haven’t spent a lot of time in the St. Paul’s Chapel churchyard, between Broadway and Church, Vesey and Fulton Streets, in back of the oldest remaining
building church in Manhattan (1766). In part, that’s because Trinity Cemetery a few blocks to the south has more superstars in it, like Robert Fulton and Alexander Hamilton. However, St. Paul’s has charms of its own, as some of the tombstones are as old as the church, the mid-1760s.
I noticed this pair, which are presumably for a husband and wife, John and Mary Cumings. Both died young in 1814, John at 39, Mary at 29, and Mary followed John into the grave just a few months after his death. Both had immigrated from Ireland.
Weep not for me my children dear
I am not dead but sleeping here
My debt is paid, on this you see:
Prepare for death and follow me
Afflictions (for a) long time I bore
Physicians were in vain
Till God was pleased to give me ease
And free me from my pain.
There are some archaisms in the lettering, as the inscriptions use the old “long s” form that had died out elsewhere around 1800. Within a few years, marble and limestone would become favored tombstone materials, and while the lettering on those stones has deteriorated severely, older stones like this are readily decipherable.