Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back to Dorchester Abbey

This has nothing to do with the English Reformation, but I cannot resist posting this picture of another grave nearby the Archdeacon's: Mrs. Sarah Fletcher, "whose artless beauty, innocence of mind and gentle manner once obtained her the Love and Esteem of all who knew her. But when Nerves were too delicately spun to bear the rude Shakes and Jostlings which we meet with in this Transitory World, Nature gave way. She sunk and died a Martyr to Excessive Sensibility. . . . May her soul meet that Peace in Heaven which this Earth denied her."

As an Anonymous reader reported, however, there is more to the story than that epitaph. According to this site,

On 7 June 1799, twenty nine year old Mrs Sarah Fletcher committed suicide at Courtiers. She hung herself from the curtain rails of her four-poster bed using a handkerchief and a piece of cord. It is said that she was driven to take her own life after she discovered her husband, who was a Captain in the Royal Navy was arranging a bigamous marriage to a wealthy heiress. This, after she had received word that he had died at sea. She went to the church and actually stopped the wedding from taking place. Following this, Captain Fletcher returned to sea, but the betrayal and neglect was too much for Sarah to bear.

The reason for her death was recorded as lunacy. Jacksons Oxford Journal for Saturday 15th June 1799 states: ‘the derangement of her mind appearing very evident, as well as from many other circumstances, the jury, without hesitation, found the verdict – Lunacy’.
I presume that verdict removed any obstacles from her being buried in the abbey church.


  1. Capt Fletcher was attempting bigamy at the time, that is why poor Sarah flew into such poor spirits and ended up committing suicide as a result of having such a dispicable husband!!

  2. Wow! where did you discover that detail, Anonymous? I'm surprised she would be buried so prominently in the church as a suicide!


  4. Now we know the rest of the story! How sad. Thank you.