The Funeral

In the seventeenth century, there were all sorts of awkward rules about all sorts of parts of life - and of death, too. When people died, it was important that their funerals were fitting to their station: that a cobbler, for example, wouldn't have a funeral more suited to a landowner.

In 1648, Sir John St. John was buried at Battersea with "such unusual pomp that it excited the attention of the heralds", and the executor of St. John's will, who'd planned the funeral, was prosecuted "for acting so contrary to the usage of arms and the laws of heraldry".

Reports from the time claim that the funeral was so over-the-top that "the escutcheons were more than were used at the funeral of a duke"; that there were more flags than anyone had seen at any funeral before; and that this was surely a terrible thing that would be "destructive of all distinction, order, and degree of honour and nobility". So dismayed were the observers that the funeral is not even recorded in the church register.

Read more stories about ceremonies.

Read more stories about the law.

Read more stories about the seventeenth century.

Read more stories about Battersea.

Read more stories about death.

Picture pending.
Story source: Daniel Lysons, The Environs of London Volume I