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John Vincent

Matthias Vincent

Nathaniel Vincent








The Vincent family are remembered by the unique and elaborate incised slate tomb in the north west corner of the nave of St Torney’s Church shown below.

arms02.JPGThe family lived at Battens, the farm just to the east of North Hill churchtown. The name Battens was derived from a family that lived there, or perhaps the family name was derived from the place name, before the Vincents. It has been suggested that during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the farm passed from the Batten family to the Vincent family as a result of a marriage of a female Batten, who was heiress to the estate, to a male Vincent. The Batten family arms were ‘argent, a chevron between three battle axes sable’ and can be seen to the right. No evidence of these arms being used on monuments or buildings in the parish has yet been found.


The dedication which is on the table section of the tomb reads:

“Here lye the bodies of Thomas Vyncent, Gentleman and Jane his Wife, by whom he had issue 8 sonnes and 7 daughters. He departed this life ye 29th March 1606. She ye 7th of Januarie 1601.”

It also has a Latin inscription as follows:



lugeat ista legens qui sunt lugenda legenda

lectaque lectori causa dolores erunt

prospera per charo recumbant cum coniuge consors

atque prior moritor motuus alater erat

amplexere simul viventes et morientes

vixerunt domino ac occubuere deo


cur mortem auctis mortalis

mors meditanda est

non metuenda tibi

sed metuenda malo


heres defuncti perculsus amore parentum


hoc opus exiguum sic cumulavit humo




Mourn those who are gathered to grieve these remains

At the chosen occasion of the reader they will be sorrowful.

Uplifted by the beloved, reclining with kindred spouse

While forefathers will have passed away with wings

To embrace both the living and the dead

They lived and lie dead entrusting in the Lord God.


For what reason is human death agonized?

Death is to be reflected upon

Not to be feared by you

But to be feared by evil


The distraught successor to the deceased with the  love of his parents

Turns this poor being, thus, into the earth

Thomas Vincent


Thanks go to Mary Rose Rubie for this translation



The upper part of the back plate shows an angel stamping on death and a serpent indicating the victory over evil.


Also on the back plate Death is pictured holding a scythe and a dart [see below]. Below him kneels Thomas Vincent and his wife with their sons and daughters. Two of the children, the second daughter and fifth son, have skulls above them indicating that they were dead when the monument was erected. Elements of the Danse Macabre are not uncommon on tombs. Sophie Oosterwijk writes of Thomas Vincent’s tomb in Death and Danse Macabre Iconography in Memorial Art: “It is not difficult to find other monuments across the country on which the personification of Death is presented in the act of despatching his victim with his dart, especially in the post-Reformation period. The slate monument to Thomas Vincent (d. 1606) at North Hill (Cornwall) shows the deceased and his family kneeling on either side of the central figure of Death, unusually with the men on the right and the women on the left. Death points his dart at the paterfamilias while holding a scythe in his left hand with a serpent entwined around it. The serpent might be a reference to the Fall of Man, but is more probably another example of ‘verminous’ imagery that we find in many danse macabre prints. It is very likely that the sculptor modelled the convincing anatomy of Death on a contemporary print, especially as his execution of the kneeling figures is so poor by comparison.”


family.jpgThomas Vincent was a landowner, farmer and attorney at law. Four of his children were named Thomas, John, William and Katherine.

Upon the death of Thomas Vincent senior in 1606 the estate passed to his son, Thomas Vincent junior who appears to have had no family. Thomas Vincent junior survived five years and upon his death in 1612 the estate then passed to his brother John.

Thomas Vincent junior’s will dated 29th June 1612 was ‘nuncupative’ meaning that it was spoken and unsigned, presumably because he was dying and unable to sign his name. This was not an uncommon practice at this time.


Thomas Vincent junior’s wishes are recorded in a memorandum of 1612:

Memorandum That on the xxixth (29th) day of June in the six and fortieth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James and in the year of our Son [of] God 1612. Thomas Vincent of Northill in the County of Cornwall, Gentleman, being sick and ... but of perfect mind and memory do make and declare his last will and testament nuncupative in manner and form following, viz: First he committed his soul to Almighty God his maker and redeemer. Then he gave and bequeathed to Catherine his eldest sister the sum of fifty pounds. Then he willed left and bequeathed all things which he had whatsoever to John Vincent his brother in the same manner as his father left them unto him. And he also made [the] [a]foresaid John Vincent his sole heir and executor and willed that he should see the legacies performed in the .... of John Vincent the elder, Catherine Vincent, William Vincent and others.


The front panel of the tomb shows three coats of arms:

Lampen (left) - argent, on a bend engrailed sable, three ram’s heads cabossed of the field attired or

Vincent (centre) – azure, three quatrefoils argent

Lower (right) – sable, a chevron between three roses argent

Thomas Vincent senior had married Jane Lampen, probably in the 1580s. The connection with the Lower family of St Winnow is not definitively known. It had been suggested that Thomas married twice, once to Jane Lampen and also to a member of the Lower family. It seems more likely, though, that from reading the documented history of the Lower family that Jane was born as a Lower and had married a John Lampen before she married Thomas Vincent. He was a member of the Lampen family of Paderda in Linkinhorne which could trace its ancestry back through at least six generations. The Lampen family also held land at Holwell in the parish of Stoke Climsland which is where they moved after Paderda had been sold.

Alexander Lower who died at Trevenial in North Hill in 1787 may have been the last of his branch of the Lower family. He and his wife, Joan Geach, had come upon reduced circumstances since their marriage in North Hill 21 years earlier. Joan died two years after Alexander. They were both buried at St Torney’s.

The Vincent arms shown here were originally the arms of a separate Vincent family from Stoke d’Abernon in Surrey. At some point the Vincent family of Battens started to use these arms but the Stoke d’Abernon family became aware of this and sued the North Hill Vincents in the courts. Eventually agreement was reached and following a payment to the Stoke d’Abernon family the North Hill Vincents were permitted to use the arms legally, but under licence.


The image shows the arms of the Vincent family and the family shown on the tomb in St Torney’s church.

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