Life story told by Yota Dimitriadi
Elizabeth Jacobs was the first person to be buried in the cemetery on Monday 1st May 1843. She was the second and youngest daughter of Thomas and Mary Jacobs, of 1 Eldon Terrace.
Thomas was the librarian of the Reading Literary, Scientific and Mechanics’ Institution, 33 London Street. You may now know it as The Great Expectations Pub. The Institution in its current formation was set up circa 1841 for the advancement of sciences alongside the arts through lectures, extensive library and workshops. Like other similar institutions, their aspiration was to support training of wider audiences including those who may have not been able to afford training, though in reality this aspiration was not always actualised. Patrons included many influential Reading businessmen like Mr Walford, Mr Exall, Mr Andrewes.
Thomas died of ‘a lingering illness’ (Berkshire Chronicle, 12 July 1845) on 29 June 1845 at the age of 68.
Elizabeth died at the age of 22 on Tuesday 25th April after a very short illness. Her funeral was reported in the local press. Reading Mercury (6 May 1843) reports:
” The Rev. W. Legg, minister of the Broad Street Meeting, officiated on the occasion, and, an eloquent and appropriate address, dwelt upon the uncertainty of life, and exhorted his hearers to hold themselves ever readiness to meet the call for their appearance in another world. He alluded, an impressive manner, to the dying moments of the young female whose remains they were about to inter, and who, up to the hour of her death, manifested the most exemplary faith and resignation under her affliction.
The rev. gentleman also adverted to the praiseworthy character of the institution in which they had for the first time assembled, and for which the town was so deeply indebted to the spirited exertions of the few gentlemen whom it was originated The practice of disinterring the remains of by-gone relatives and friends in order to make room for bodies more recently deceased, had long been of necessity resorted to in Reading and anything more objectionable, or more revolting to the feelings of the living, could hardly be conceived; he had no doubt therefore, that the increased accommodation offered by the completion of the Cemetery would be regarded with universal satisfaction, and he sincerely trusted that the institution would long continue under the same wise and judicious control as that which was now distinguished.
Shortly after 5 o’clock the body was deposited in the grave, and an appropriate prayer offered by the Rev W. Legg, after which the friends of the deceased, and others who had attended the chapel, left the grounds.”
Elizabeth was ‘a worshipper at Broad Street Congregational Chapel (now Waterstones’ bookshop)’ (The Berkshire Echo, January 2020, page 2). She is buried in the non-conformist part of the cemetery. At this stage we do not know much about her life.
Buried in Section 8, Row B, Number 15