Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Super Woman!

There are so many memorial in York Minster it is easy to walk past without really paying attention, especially if they have a Latin inscription. Something about those sad looking cherubs prompted me to investigate this one further......

This memorial is to Jane Hodson wife to Phineas Hodson Chancellor of York from 1611-46. She died in childbirth in 1636 at the age of 38 having apparently given birth to no fewer than 24 children(!). Of these 14 (none of whom were twins) were baptized at a nearby church (which leads me to wonder if that 2 should be a 1). Either way she had a sizable family and survived a remarkable number of deliveries in a time when childbirth was a considerable risk to life, as evidenced by her untimely demise.

Her husband was devastated by her loss as a translation of a portion of the memorial shows

"...........  a woman born to be an exempelar and leader of her sex, by universal acclaim a signal ornament of the entire world; the delight and joy of her husband..........

After she had increased the lineage of her husband by bearing twenty-four children of both sexes she surrendered at last to the bitterness of death, albeit with the resolute valour of a soldier at his post, and retaining her beauty so that you would have said she was still a maiden who was so often a mother......"

Her husband is described as a very active Chancellor, a sentiment I suspect his remarkable wife would endorse.

Taking part in Taphophile Tragics


  1. What wonderful words inscribed into the passage of time! This couple sounds quite bonded!

  2. Jane the supermum indeed, poor woman...

  3. Poor Jane. I hope that 2 should be a 1 - otherwise she had not much of a life with her body as her own!

  4. OMG - the poor woman must have been pregnant all the time!

  5. "she was still a maiden who was so often a mother......"
    a certain amount of vanity seems to be present here!

  6. Great photo, inspiring memorial, incredible woman!

    Darryl and Ruth :)

  7. wow, what a text to write on a stone, especially that long ago! i do like it.
    but 24 children. beeehhh. she must have been pregnant without pause.

  8. So much irony in all this ... 'the delight and joy of her husband' has another feel to it in the nowadays ... and instead of cherubs, I think of the two ornaments as babies holding their heads.

    Yes, I can see how you and I have similar threads running through our posts this week. So many times, I see tombstones for women who die in childbirth, evidenced by the dates of mother and baby. Even up until 50 years ago.

    How did you translate the Latin on the stone? Is it one of your party tricks?

    1. No Latin is not my forte, fortunately a translation is available in the Minster. I thought the comparison of her 'valour' to that of a soldier at 'his' post struck a very discordant note to modern ears, but was no doubt high praise at the time it was made.

  9. What an inspring and interesting monument. 24 children is no mean feat. I found it hard enough just having three.

    Herding Cats


  10. Blimey. Twwenty-four children...
    But you are right about how many stories we miss on monuments because of the latin or old-styled writing. The more we value these monuments, the more their stories will (I hope) be written on nearby markers, or even QR codes.


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