The Watchmaker's Epitaph
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This epitaph appeared on the grave of George Routledge, a watchmaker who died in the village of Lydford, Devon in 1802 aged 57.

For some time, it was thought that George had written his own epitaph some years before his death but it is now known that the words were  published in an American almanac in 1797, the work of a black American astronomer called Benjamin Banneker who was also a clockmaker. However, in more recent years, an even earlier version has been discovered as having been printed in the Derby Mercury in 1786.

Over two centuries, the stone lid of the outside grave on which the epitaph was inscribed became so worn that it was in danger of being lost so the decision was made to bring the original lid into Lydford's St. Petrock's Church where it now hangs on the wall - the grave in the churchyard  being re-covered with a replacement stone.

St. Petrock's, Lydford


Here lies in the horizontal position

The outside case of

George Routleigh, Watchmaker,

Whose abilities in that line were an honour

To his profession:

Integrity was the main-spring,

And prudence the regulator

Of all the actions of his life:

Humane, generous and liberal,

His hand never stopped

Till he had relieved distress;

So nicely regulated were all his movements

That he never went wrong

Except when set-a-going

By people

Who did not know his key;

Even then, he was easily

Set right again:

He had the art of disposing of his time

So well

That his hours glided away

In one continual round

Of pleasure and delight,

Till an unlucky moment put a period to

His existence;

He departed this life

November 14, 1802

Wound up,

in hopes of being taken in hand

By his Maker,

And of being

Thoroughly cleaned, repaired and set-a-going

In the World to come.


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Last modiied: 26/11/2006