Tombstone Tuesday: Anne Brontë and her grave error


Have you ever seen a headstone that carries incorrect information? Should it be corrected? Left as a historical object? Or should a correction be added?

I have just read this BBC article relating to the correction of an error on author Anne Brontë’s grave in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The error, her age at death, which should have been 29 rather than 28 years, has stood in the churchyard since 1849, but now the Brontë Society has made the corrections by adding a plaque alongside the original standing stone.

This is not the first time her headstone has been corrected – her sister Charlotte arranged the correction of five earlier errors.

Elizabeth Yarrow’s headstone doesn’t match burial records on several counts.

This reminds me of my own Great x 5 Grandmother, Elizabeth Yarrow (née Wright), whose own age, date, and year of death differs by two years depending on whether you’re reading the headstone, or one of the two parish registers that record her burial.

Dates range from 1837 to 1839, and her death seems to not to be covered by certification.

What do you think? Is it right to correct a headstone, preserve it with its error, or add an ‘erratum’?

About Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
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2 Responses to Tombstone Tuesday: Anne Brontë and her grave error

  1. I think in some cases it is necessary. One of my ancestor’s stones was very badly faded. Another branch of the family purchased a new stone and laid it by the original. Sadly, the new stone has the incorrect death year (off by five years!). This misinformation is now out there, and many uninformed casual family searchers will be duped by the fancy new stone.

  2. Judith E. Pike, Ph.D. says:

    I am very interested in your April 30, 2013 piece regarding the error on Anne Bronte’s tombstone and your comment about the other errors, when you say :’This is not the first time her headstone has been corrected – her sister Charlotte arranged the correction of five earlier errors’. I am working on an article on Anne Bronte and was wondering if you could provide the source for the information about the errors corrected by Charlotte (except of course her age). Thank you for your interesting piece.

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