I visited the St Andrews churchyard some years ago to see the gravestone of my great-great-great grandparents, James Armstrong and Hannah (Shield) Armstrong.
I took some photos of the gravestone and was intrigued by the three smaller gravestones behind my ggg grandparents labelled with only initials.
On the website here my ggg grandparents are # 242 and MA, WA and HA are #s 243, 244 and 255.
I had assumed that they were the gravestones of James and Hannah's children: Mary, William and Hannah.
I have access to the BTs of Heddon on the Wall via both the familysearch site and free reg.
I have found the burials of their daughters, Mary [May 22nd 1799 aged 8 years] and Hannah [March 7th 1807 aged 13 years], and had assumed that WA was their brother, William, who was baptised in Haydon Bridge in 1783. But I haven't found a burial for him in the BTs anywhere, although several pages are missing.
Anyway, having recently returned to your website I saw the note on the 3 graves and am now having doubts about my original assumptions.
Is there anyone in Heddon on the Wall LHS who would know if it was normal practice for (fairly well off) parents to bury their children in graves marked with a smaller headstone with only initials?
I did note though that Mary and Hannah are also memorialised on the bigger headstone of James and Hannah.
The note on this website referred to by Joan is reproduced below:
NOTE: it is not known why these three gravestones are inscribed only with initials or even who was buried here.
A previous vicar of St Andrew's Church suggested from the style of the gravestones and research in the Church Registers that they might be the graves of Mary Anderson, buried on 2nd July 1741, and William Anderson buried on 30 August 1741. He could find no record of an H Anderson.
I think that they are much more likely to be Armstrongs than Andersons. They are situated close to the main headstone, and certainly don’t look as old as his suggested 1741 date.
The only thing I can find out about graveyard stones bearing only initials, is for footstones. These were usually smaller than the headstones they accompanied, and placed at the gravefoot.
I wonder though why William wasn’t added to the main stone, whose inscription is reproduced below:
Sacred to the memory of Mary daughter of James and Hannah Armstrong of Bays Leap who died May 22nd A.D. 1799 aged 8 years.
And of Hannah daughter of James and Hannah Armstrong of Bays Leap who died March 7th A.D. 1807 aged 13 years.
And of James Armstrong of Bays Leap who died February 19th A.D. 1826 aged 71 years.
And of Hannah Armstrong relict of the above James Armstrong of Bays Leap who died July 5th 1842 aged 84 years.