Whilst clearing ivy from gravestones in Northam Churchyard recently, we came across a very well-carved stone commemorating two families, the Blighs and the Copners.
Francis Bligh was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and died in 1825. Also named were his widow Elizabeth, son James, daughter Elizabeth Copner Bligh and nephew William Bligh.
Do the descendants of this family still live in the area? Is it fanciful to wonder if they are related to Captain Bligh of the Mutiny on the Bounty?
Further down the same stone we have a mystery. The deaths of two women are listed:
Mary Elizabeth Copner, wife of James Copner, who died in 1822 and Ann Copner, widow of James Copner, who died in 1825.
So between 1822 and 1825, James Copner buried one wife, married again and then he himself died. But where is he buried? There seems to be no record of him anywhere in the churchyard.
Are there any Copners or their relatives reading this who can solve the riddle?
Some readers may be aware that at the top of Northam Churchyard, near the vicarage wall, is a war grave dated 10 December 1940 and dedicated to a Merchant Navy sailor of the 2nd World War, with the poignant inscription “Known unto God”. We will never know who he was, but his sacrifice is not forgotten.