A question often asked during graveyard surveys is ‘how much did a funeral cost in the past?’ - to which I’d often reply that we need to see a undertaker’s account books to get an answer. The first undertaker’s accounts I have seen were shown to me by C J Destelle-Roe of North Tipperary and that account book contained a lot of important clues to understanding early 20th century Templemore.
Now, Waterford County Council have combined with Thompson Funeral Directors (opened in Waterford in 1786) to put their historic registers online. This is an excellent resource and a quick examination gives immediate reward.
Reading the registers it strikes me that literacy was just as much an issue for undertakers clerks as it was for stonecutters. The 19th century register is written with phonetic spellings - elm is ellim, car is care, hers for hearse so that lesson we have learned in graveyards is repeated here- the actual spelling doesn’t overly matter once you convey the intended meaning. Read more »