Sunday, 9 June 2013

Sarah's poisoned grave

One tombstone at Wolstanton's ancient church of St Margaret's is up there among all the most amazing gravestones to be found in the county.
Quite simply, it points the finger at a murderer – the murderer of the woman in the grave.   

From death, Sarah Smith accuses the perpetrator of the foul deed against her:
“It was C-----s B----w / That brought me to my end. /
Dear parents, mourn not for me / For God will stand my friend. /
With half a Pint of Poyson / He came to visit me. /
Write this on my Grave / That all that read it may see.”

Whether Sarah dictated this before she died (in 1763), or her angry parents had it inscribed, who knows?  She was just 21 years old.
It’s believed that C…s B…w was never hauled up before the law - despite this indictment.

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday website 


  1. Wow. What an amazing find. Odd that the full name is censored. Do you think Sarah's parents did that or the cemetery/churchyard?

    I suspect his first name was Charles.

    Thank you for linking up with Cemetery Sunday

  2. This is so curious .... and fascinating. Makes me wonder who this person was (that she didn't give the full name of), and who Sarah Smith was. What a great find -- thank you for sharing!

  3. i live about 500 yards from this cemetery and never seen this, will have to try and find it.

  4. I live in Wolstanton and have visited the grave many times. The accused is believed to be Charles Barlow and there is much speculation as to the relationship he held with Sarah Smith but the most widely held belief is that he fathered her child and then killed her to hide it! Sadly the baby girl also died a short time after her mother. I remember seeing that the grave inspired a local girl to write a short story about Sarah Smith which won the first prize in our first ever annual literary festival in 2014.

    1. That is really helpful... And is the story about Sarah to be found anywhere on the internet? It would be interesting to read it.

    2. The story can be found at the following link.
      It was a Sentinel run competition and the story was published in the paper (along with the other shortlisted finalists) just before the Literary Event took place. I know that a man named Jeremy Crick did a lot of research on the grave and the church sells copies of it.