Friday, March 20, 2009

A Faithful Servant

Wandering the ancient churchyard that surrounds St. Laurence Church in Alvechurch, I read the inscription on an old grave that stands close to the church doors.

I always find myself wondering who the people were and about their stories.

This grave holds five members of the Tibbatts family:
William and Martha, and three daughters: Martha, Sarah and Betsy.

The inscription reads:
In affectionate remembrance of William Tibbatts of the Wasthills Farm, born February 17th 1806, died April 16th 1877
And of Martha, his wife, born June 11th 1819, died March 3rd 1903
In loving memory of
Sarah, second daughter of William and Martha Tibbatts, born September 26th 1853 and died March 26th 1898
Also Martha, eldest daughter of William and Martha Tibbatts, born May 28th 1851, died November 20th 1934
Also Betsy, third daughter of the above, born May 15th 1856, died November 12th 1936

I was surprised to find a sixth person is buried there--someone not a member of the family; a man who was their servant.

This is the inscription:
In loving memory of William Pestridge, born January 1st 1857, died October 13th 1935
For 43 years, faithful servant to the above family.

The grave monument looks prosperous for a farming family. It seems that in a day and age when people in different social classes rigidly kept to their place, William must have been as much family as servant—a very unusual thing.

I wonder about their relationships and this man, who seems to have given his whole life to serve the family. It is no small thing to be honoured as a faithful servant. In fact, I can think of no better way to be remembered .

Matthew 25:21 (New International Version)
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'


Marilyn said...

It says something about the servant and it says something about the family, too. I think of NT instructions to slaves and masters, husbands and wives, etc. In times and places of rigid social delineations, the Word has something to say about how we conduct ourselves and our attitudes. Look at the way the testimony of this family and this servant has lived on and even now traveled through cyberspace, speaking to others.

I'm sure they could not have imagined, just as we cannot imagine the reach of our smallest choices in attitude and conduct.

Susan said...

It would be cool to do a rubbing of that stone...

The grass sure looks green over there!

Thankyou for sharing this and for Marilyn's comments, which so often, as today, takes an excellent post and rounds it out even more!