Mysteries at St. Margaret’s, Northam.

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.

Catherine Webb.

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6 Responses to Mysteries at St. Margaret’s, Northam.

  1. Ellie Wells says:

    Anthony Ainslie….if you ever read this then i have uploaded a picture of the headstone you mentioned. The name is actually Andrew Cracroft Becher CBE who died 1928. You will find this on the Find a Grave website where i uploaded it….or i will happily send you a picture of it. Regards Ellie

  2. Barry Bligh says:

    Sarah Jane Crombie
    Cant contact you as the email address dosent work. Contact me [email protected]

  3. Sarah Jane Crombie says:

    Hi Barry, I am so excited to read your response, some 3 years after my original enquiry. My email address is [email protected]
    I would love to learn more from you about my family history, thank you so much for your response and I hope it is not another 3 years that passes for this message to reach you.
    Sarah Jane.

  4. Barry Bligh says:

    Hi Catherine
    My GG father is W H Bligh from Bedeford There are relatives buried in the Northam cemetery. I have the complete family history of WHB while he was at Molwaden as an original selector. My bro still runs the farm he bought in 1852. There are many original records and letters in our possession.
    The Brit Blighs were silk makers and drapers. They moved to Clifton some time in the 40s where the family had a number of drapery business. WHB came to Hobart when he was 18. He used his mothers name Morgan for reasons not known. He was silent for 7 years before moving to Victoria. The Cornwall/ Devon Blighs are all related. WHB would be a cousin of the Governor a few generations back. Also related to the Kent Blighs, Earl of Darnley etc.
    I would be pleased to share my data with Sarah.

  5. Anthony Ainslie says:

    Dear Catherine,

    My gt. grandfather, Maj. Gen Arthur Cracroft Becher CBE, died in 1928, lived in Northam, is buried in your churchyard. Can you locate the grave and if possible send me a photo? Happy to make a contribution to church funds if you can help me. (I am retired and live in Dorchester, Dorset.)

    Anthony Ainslie

  6. Sarah Jane Crombie says:

    Hi Catherine! I am currently researching my family history, I stumbled upon finding and am now wondering if there is a connection, I live in Australia and my ancestor William Henry Bligh born in Bideford Devonshire 1825-1904 sailed as a deck hand to Australia where he is buried in Warnambool Cemetary, I have a photograph of his rather impressive head stone, his Father James Bligh was born in Devon in 1790 and is recorded to have been a Merchant. There are rumours in my family of having been related to Captain Bligh, this is exactly what I am researching.
    It is difficult to do from Australia.
    I am certainly interested in finding out if your finding is connected to my ancestry.

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