TOMB OF HARRIET LONG AND JACOB WALKER IN THE CHURCHYARD OF THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY
List Entry Summary
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
Name: TOMB OF HARRIET LONG AND JACOB WALKER IN THE CHURCHYARD OF THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY
List entry Number: 1392351
TOMB OF HARRIET LONG AND JACOB WALKER IN THE CHURCHYARD OF THE OLD PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY, HIGH STREET
The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District Type: London Borough
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first listed: 21-Dec-2007
Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.
Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: LBS
This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.
List entry Description
Summary of Building
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
The grave of Harriet Long and Jacob Walker is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * an intact and legible headstone of 1841 * of special historic interest having been erected to commemorate a Virginian, Harriet Long, and her former slave (in America) and servant (in England), Jacob Walker; * the contrast the inscription draws between the relative legal situations in America and England with regard to slavery in the year 1841 gives the tomb extra piquancy and the inscription also suggests a parity between mistress and former slave; * group value with the listed medieval tower of the old parish Church of St Mary, Hornsey and a number of other interesting tombs, one of which is listed.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
800/0/10119 HIGH STREET 21-DEC-07 Tomb of Harriet Long and Jacob Walker in the churchyard of the Old Parish Ch urch of St Mary
GV II Tomb, dated 1841. A rectangular slate ledger with moulded edge, slightly raised. The inscription covers just over half of the stone and is written in crisp Roman capital letters. It reads: 'Harriet Long / a native of Virginia / the widow of Joseph Selden / Lieutenant Colonel in the army / of the United States / and the wife of George Long / died at Highgate / on the 18th day of June 1841 / in the 40th year of her age. // Lux oculis ridens majestas fronte serena / fulgebat toto suavis ab ore decor / par animus formae grandes in pectore vires / casta fides pietas ingeniumque simul. // Jacob Walker / a native of Virginia / in America the faithful slave / in England the faithful servant / of / Harriet and George Long / and an honest man / died at Highgate on the 12th of August 1841 / in the 40th year of his age.' The words of the Latin quotation are in a smaller lettering than the rest of the inscription.
HISTORY: Jacob Walker (?1802-1841) was a slave and then a domestic servant for George Long (1800-1879) and his wife Harriet (?1802-1841). George Long, a distinguished classicist, was professor of ancient languages at the University of Virginia from 1824 to 1828 where he was a frequent guest of Thomas Jefferson, the rector. During this time he married Harriet Seldon (née Gray), widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Selden, judge of the Supreme Court of Arkansas. It is likely that Long, marrying a widowed Virginian, would have taken on slaves as members of her household, or that of her mother-in-law, with whom she was living; one of whom was presumably Jacob Walker. Slavery was not abolished in the United States of America until 1865, and in Virginia, the owning of a slave or slaves would have been unlikely to have met with disapproval.
In 1828 the family returned to England, Long having been appointed professor of Greek at the new University of London. The Longs lived in Jacksons Lane, Highgate, to the west of Hornsey. Arriving in England as part of the Long household, where slavery was illegal, Jacob Walker ceased to be a slave. Indeed he appears in the census of 1841 described as 'M.S.' (male servant). George Long is described in the census as a 'Barister', having been called to the bar in 1837. There are six children listed, the eldest two being Harriet's daughters by her first husband. The Longs also had three female servants, a coachman, and a gardener.
It was in the year of the census that Harriet died, followed by Jacob, two months later. Harriet was killed by a form of cancer; Jacob's death certificate gives the cause of death as 'Smallpox after vaccination.' George Long was present at both deaths. The story recorded many years later, that 'an old black servant she had brought with her from Virginia, was found dead on her grave a day or two after her funeral, so the grave was opened that he might be buried with his mistress' (Tylers Quarterly Magazine, vol. 8, (1926-7)), appears to be a romantic fabrication.
Apart from the fact that one name inevitably precedes the other, the inscription appears to accord the two people commemorated on this gravestone equal importance. It was almost certainly Long that composed the Latin verse on the gravestone, the translation of which is 'A smiling light shone in the eyes, majesty on the serene brow, / sweet beauty from the whole face / spirit equal to beauty, great strength in the heart / chaste loyalty, duty, and intelligence all together'. The form and style of the poem place it within the tradition of epigraphs composed by mourning husbands in ancient Rome; however, the gender of the verse is neutral, and it is just possible, given the layout of the inscription, that Long intended it to apply to both mistress and servant. After both names come the words 'A native of Virginia' and both epitaphs conclude by stating that the subject 'died at Highgate [...] in the 40th year of her/his age'. The symmetry of the inscription reflects the poignant symmetry of the two lives; it seems that Long wished to draw attention to this. The epitaph also emphasises the different roles fulfilled by Jacob Walker in Virginia and England and the disparity in the law of those two places in regard to slavery.
Long's position with relation to slavery is worth considering. His father had been a West India merchant based in Poulton, Lancashire, who must certainly have had some connection with slavery and the slave trade. George Long was a staunch supporter of the slave-owning South during the American Civil War of 1861-5. This does not necessarily indicate that he was against abolition. Long is known to have loved the American South, and his political position so many years later may have stemmed from regret at the transformation of the country he had known; as a classicist, he was disappointed by the failure of the new American republic. The role of slavery in the ancient world was a subject of anxious debate in the late eighteenth century and nineteenth century. We cannot know whether Long's intimate involvement, over many years, with the life of Jacob Walker, affected his political views.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The tomb of Harriet Long and Jacob Walker lies in the churchyard of the old parish church of St Mary, Hornsey. Only the medieval tower (q.v.) remains; this lies to the north of the churchyard where a number of interesting graves are found, including the monument to Samuel Rogers, the Romantic poet, and his family (q.v.). The tomb of Harriet Long and Jacob Walker lies in a less frequented part of the churchyard, in a row of horizontal graves, many of which are damaged or illegible. The churchyard retains an atmosphere of the old village of Hornsey which is otherwise difficult to find in the High Street, although two listed houses of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries lie opposite the entrance to the churchyard.
SOURCES: S. L. Collicott, Connections: Haringey local-national-world links (1986), p. 61; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, George Long, An Old Man's Thoughts About Many Things (1862); Roy Hidson, 'The Lady and the Slave - A Hornsey Mystery', Hornsey Historical Society Local History Bulletin, no. 27 (1986)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The grave of Harriet Long and Jacob Walker is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * an intact and legible headstone of 1841 * of special historic interest having been erected to commemorate a Virginian, Harriet Long, and her former slave (in America) and servant (in England), Jacob Walker * the contrast the inscription draws between the relative legal situations in America and England with regard to slavery in the year 1841 gives the tomb extra piquancy and the inscription also suggests a parity between mistress and former slave. This tomb was listed in 2007, the bicentenary year of the 1807 Abolition Act. * group value with the listed medieval tower of the old parish Church of St Mary, Hornsey and a number of other interesting tombs, one of which is listed
National Grid Reference: TQ 30675 89227
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