Burial records of a rich man and a pauper widow

Register of baptisms and burials

He kept the coffin in his room, drawn up on pulleys to the ceiling...

This page from the register of baptisms and burials for the parish of Winchester St Cross with St Faith shows contrasting burials in 1790 and 1791, of Richard Hart, a Brother of St Cross, and Martha Dubber, a pauper widow.

Brother Hart was buried in a cedarwood coffin he made himself out of a plank from a Spanish Man of War twenty years earlier. He had been a carpenter in Portsmouth Dockyard, where he purchased the plank. He kept the coffin in his room, drawn up on pulleys to the ceiling and had painted funeral processions, skulls and other emblems of mortality in the room.

Martha Dubber’s husband had been crushed to death by a fall of earth in a sand pit in 1780.

Parish registers were first ordered to be kept from the 1530s, but they don’t always survive from this date. In early registers, the detail may vary depending on the incumbent or clerk who kept the them.

In 1754, a standard printed format was introduced for marriage registers, and standard forms were also introduced for baptisms and burials in 1812. This example pre-dates the printed forms, so the priest was able to include more detail.

Quick Facts

  • Catalogue record number 40M83W/PR2
  • Date of register page 1790-1791
  • Written at St Cross with St Faith, Winchester
  • Records of Richard Hart and Martha Dubber


  • This page is from a register which covers the years 1776 to 1812. Inside the front cover is a note that the register was given to St Faith parish by Rev Beilby Porteus DD, Master of St Cross, on 10th June 1776.
  • Volunteers at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies and other members of the public suggested this because:
    "A particularly poignant entry giving a snapshot of the life of the poor girl dying in poverty and the peculiar story of the St Cross man with the coffin in his room.”

Did you know?

Brother Hart was happy to show off his coffin to visitors to St Cross Hospital. The purpose of the Hospital was to provide a 'hospice' or home for poor, elderly men and women, rather than a medical hospital, as we use the term today.

Fact Sheets

Catalogue record for Burial records for a rich man and a pauper widow in the parish register of baptisms and burials for Winchester St Cross with St Faith

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