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James Hannay's
Tombstone Inscriptions

Although there was a chill in the air, it was a beautiful afternoon to be outdoors. Mum suggested we take a walk through the cemetery. No lessons meant there was no hurry so we took our time and looked at the symbols carved on the tombstones.

She explained that people often put the "hands clasped" symbol with the meaning of: farewell to a loved one, or hope of meeting in eternity, or everlasting union of husband and wife. We saw several of these on the white marble slabs.

On the top of the hill was a small wooden marker that looked as though it had been hand carved. It showed the symbol for “trinity” and two “upside down hearts”. This puzzled us until Mum told us this represented the hearts in grief of the two parents.

We were really quite surprised that we had not noticed all the carvings until she pointed out the details.

I hurried to look at an iron tombstone but was disappointed when I was unable to read the writing that had been placed under the glass covering.

Next we spotted a broken white slab on the ground. It was gradually being overgrown with moss and in the process of disappearing into the earth.

Many grave markers have become broken or unreadable over the years, thus the New Brunswick Reports on Burying Grounds transcribed in 1908 by James Hannay, and later microfilmed, is a great source for the family researcher.

Mr. Hannay recorded all the data on the grave markers which sometimes gave family relationships and place of birth. He also included the location of the cemetery and some historical facts of not only the cemetery or settlement but of the church which was probably responsible for establishing the burial ground.

The preceding Information describing the reel contents of Hannay's 1908 Report has been paraphrased from The Loyalist Collection Inventory by Kathryn Hilder  The microfilm reel may be viewed in The Loyalist Collection at the Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, and the Archives & Research Library of the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.

James Hannay, New Brunswick Reports on Burying Grounds, 1908, was received in installments and each has its own page numbering system. There are indexes for a number of the cemeteries on the reel but, unfortunately, the index of a particular cemetery is not always found with the cemetery. Thirty-four cemeteries were recorded in nine New Brunswick locations/areas, which include: Fredericton, Kingsclear, New Maryland, Kings County (Oak Point and Kingston), Oromocto, Hampstead, Lincoln, St. Andrews and Saint John. The Reports appear to be actual transcriptions of tombstones. In some cases, very few details of a person's life are recorded, perhaps only the name and date of death; but in many recordings, the date and place of both birth and death are given, as well as details of family relationships. In the case of a prominent individual or a person who held public office, additional information is included on the stone.

James Hannay has supplied background information on each cemetery, and this precedes the start of the transcriptions. The information usually includes the geographical location of the cemetery and frequently the size, when it was first opened, and often a brief history of the settlement or church where it is located, including the founding families, which were usually Loyalist.

Another source of cemetery transcriptions can be found in the early issues of Acadiensis, which includes Epitaphs of the Church of England Graveyard, Kingston and Epitaphs from the Old Burying Grounds in St. Andrews.

More recently, members of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society have recorded over nine hundred cemeteries and these transcriptions can be accessed through the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick web site at

Although time, weather, and air pollution have taken their toll on many burial markers, thanks to the efforts of individuals such as James Hannay and others, many epitaphs that would have disappeared can still be read in transcribed form, in microfilm, and on the world wide web. 

Query 1517
Donovan - Armour: Rachel Mary Donovan, born 23, May 1903 in Cape Breton married in Marlborough, Massachusetts in 1927 to Charles Arthur Armour, who was probably born in New Brunswick. Any information on this line would be appreciated.

Query 1518
Merritt: I am 11th Generation of the New Brunswick Merritt family. I am looking to find more information on Israel Merritt who appears to have been granted Crown Land in several counties between the years of 1868-1885.  I think he was born in 1832 and died around 1892.
211 Williams Road, Winter Springs
FL, 32708, USA

Query 1519
Hatfield - Hughson - Urquhart: I am seeking the birthplace of James Hatfield who was born 6 Apr 1811, and died 11 Mar 1876, the son of Uriah Drake Hatfield and Mary Ann "Nancy" Hughson.  He was married to Mercy White Urquhart. Any information about the family would be a great help.
!640 Morris Ave RR#1
Peterborough, Ontario
Canada, K9J 6X2          

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Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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