Lakenham – Church of St. John the Baptist (John Mackie)

It’s fair to say that I wasn’t over-excited about this church, but the churchyard of St. John’s has some interesting graves. This one puzzled me because of just how well it has been preserved. It stands on top of bricks and looks almost new, despite it dating back to 1796. I’m unsure of why this is, it gives the impression of having been moved from inside, but there’s no obvious evidence that this is what has happened.

Anyway, it’s the tombstone of John Mackie, as well as two of his children who died in their infancy, Mary and Charles. John married Mary Aram at this church on 8 January 1778. Mary, who is buried with her father, had been baptised on 4 August 1782, but she sadly died at the age of two and was buried at the church on 16 November 1784. Charles, also buried with his father, died at the same age, being buried on 17 March 1791.

I’m unsure how many children the couple had, but this is the baptism record for John and Mary’s son, also named John. He was baptised at the church on 29 March 1785, a reminder of how important St. John’s Church would have been to the family. Unfortunately, the younger John didn’t have that long a life, he died at the age of 33 in 1818.

John worked as a seedsman and this is one of the ads that he placed in the Norfolk Chronicle in 1788. He must have been reasonably well known locally, as he never placed his address in these adverts, but I think his nursery was on the Ipswich Road. That means it would have likely had a prominent location for those entering and leaving the city.

It was reported in the Norfolk Chronicle on 22 October 1796 that John had died, noting “Monday last died, Mr. John Mackie, nursery and seedsman, near this city, aged 53; whose abilities in his profession, attention to business, and obliging liberal behaviour, was exceeded only by his affection and tenderness to a disconsolate wife and family”.

The expense of the tombstone suggests that John wasn’t a poor man and his trade seems to be one which afforded him some luxuries. He also seemed to breed spaniels, as there are numerous adverts relating to that in the local press. His business survived though after his death, it was taken on by family members who kept the Ipswich Road site operational. It evolved into Mackie and Ewing’s Nursery and the business was still trading in the late nineteenth century.