English - looking at memorials and epitaphs:

Warsop, St Peter & St Paul

Memorial to John Rolleston

Memorial to John Rolleston Close-up of the text
on the monument

The text reads:

To the memory of a trusty servant, a loyal subject, a kind master, a faithfull friend, a loving husband and a good Christian. And now reader think not, yet this is to ye memory of MANY but wonder that ‘tis to that of ONE. To that of Mr. JOHN ROLLESTON of Rolleston, in Staffordshire well born and well bred. Well knowne & therefore well loved by ye high and mighty. Wm. late lord duke of Newcastle and his noble family as having had ye honour of being his secretary when he himself had yet great one of being Governor to the prince afterwards King Charles the Second as likewise that of secretary, to ye army under his excellencies command in ye late unhappy warrs. His approved honesty and abilities in business rendered him highly usefull to his master and his country particular to the former in ye management and preservation of his estate in a time when ye government: it felt it was too weak to preserve anything from RAPINE and RUINE. The advantages raised to himself out of a long & meritorious service were almost entirely lost upon the declining future of ye royal party at Marston Moor & yet his good service in ye end mett with what he valued above all, ye honour of having been highly trusted and ye comfort of having honestly discharged the trust. To ye many blessings of ye man here remains was added that of a long life he having lived to the age of 84 years: a long but to him a glorious tyme of tryal.

He departed this life ye 22nd of December 1681 in full hopes of a joyfull Resurrection to a much better.

Erected (as a MONUMENT of true love) by his entirely beloved wife and sorrowfull widow MRS ELIZABETH ROLLESTON now living in this parish MDCLXXXVI


Teaching and Learning activities:

From the text:
  • Who was John Rolleston?
  • What was his ‘claim to fame’?
  • What qualities did he have as a person?
  • Check out: the reference to Marston Moor – what happened there that links to John Rolleston's story?


From the epitaph itself:
  • What does the elaborate nature of the epitaph tell us about John Rolleston? What does it tell us about what people thought of him?
  • Consider the language used in the epitaph – check out the meaning of some of the vocabulary, words such as ‘meritorious’, ‘rapine’, ‘ruine’.
  • Using similar medieval language write an epitaph for a contemporary famous person. You might need to look up a list of medieval equivalents to vocabulary you want to use. Try using a Middle English Dictionary for some translations into Middle English!


Extension task:
  • Write ‘A Day in the life of John Rolleston’, basing your piece of creative writing on what you have found about him from the epitaph.