Memorials of 1798 Rebellion
A modern replica gravestone in the oldest section of the graveyard commemorates James Burns, a man who was involved in the 1798 Rebellion and was known as ‘the Bombardier’ because he had charge of the rebel cannon fired at the Battle of Antrim. Burns lived an eventful life, but his most impressive claim to posterity was his decision to inscribe a cryptic code on his gravestone, substituting numbers for vowels (with 6 for w: a double u). This appeared as:
Christ 61s th2 64rd th1t sp1k2 3t
H2 t44k th2 Bre1d 1nd br1k2 3t
And 6h1t th1t 64rd d3d m1k2 3t
Th1t 52 b2132v2 1nd t1k2 3t.
This translates as a religious verse, which is included on the new stone, along with details on Burns’ life:
Christ was the word that spake it
He took the bread and brake it
And what that word did make it
That we believe and take it.
The stone in its original form can be seen alongside the much larger replica, and has a metal insert on which the inscription was placed. The smaller stone is now no longer legible and sits close to that for William Nelson, a 1798 martyr. Nelson was just 16 years old when he participated in the ill-fated Rising and he was subsequently hanged outside his widowed mother’s door for his involvement and because he refused to name his colleagues that June day who had shouldered pikes and headed for the Battle of Antrim. Two of his brothers were also involved in the rising and one of them, John, survived, and became a prominent figure in Virginia in the USA, being architect to President Thomas Jefferson and working on his home at Monticello and also the University of Virginia.