“The End of His Days”,
page 8 of 10
In Whitby, England, a similar cake is still made by bakers and served at funerals; but it is sprinkled with white sugar. In Lincolnshire and Cumberland like customs still exist. “Burial-cakes” were advertised by a baker in 1748 in the Philadelphia newspapers.
It is frequently asserted that funeral rings were commonly given among the Dutch. It seems fair to infer that more of them would have been in existence to-day if the custom had been universal. Scores of them can be found in New England. There is an enamelled ring marked “K. V. R., obit Sept. 16, 1719,” which was given at the funeral of Kileaen Van Renssalaer. One of the Earl of Bellomont is also known, and two in the Lefferts family, dating towards the close of the past century. I have heard of a few others in Hudson Valley towns. Perhaps with gifts of gloves, spoons, bottles of wine, doed-koecks, scarfs, or handkerchiefs, rings would have been superfluous.
It will be noted in all these references to funerals herein given that the services were held in private houses; it was not until almost our own day that the funerals of those of Dutch descent were held in the churches.
Interments were made under the churches; and, by special payment, a church-attendant could be buried under the seat in which he was wont to sit during his lifetime. The cost of interment in the Flatbush church was two pounds for the body of a child under six years; three pounds for a person from six to sixteen years of age; four pounds for an adult; and in addition “those who are inclined to be permitted to be interred in the church are required to pay the expense of every person.” I don’t know exactly what this ambiguous sentence can mean, but it was at any rate an extra charge “for the profit of the schoolmaster,” who dug the grave and carried the dirt out of the church, and was paid twenty-seven guilders for this sexton’s work for an adult, and less for a younger person and hence a smaller grave. Usually the domines were buried in front of the pulpit where they had stood so often in life.
After newspaper-days arrived in the colony, there blossomed in print scores of long death-notices, thoroughly in the taste of the day, but not to our taste. In the “New York Gazette” of December 24, 1750, we find a characteristic one:—