Bullie’s Tombstone

Written by: Leo Lawton

Charles Bourne Lawton was born in 1771. About 1800 Charles wed Anne Featherstonehaugh who died in 1814. Charles had become quite infatuated with a young lady named Mariana Belcombe while Anne was yet alive, and married her in 1816. Mariana was born in 1790, so was nearly 20 years younger than her husband. Upon the death of his elder brother William in 1831 Charles became head of the Lawton Estate in Church Lawton, Cheshire, England, and thus was known as Squire Lawton.

Previous to, and after, her marriage, Mariana engaged in a lesbian affair with another female named Lady Anne Lister. Her husband ultimately became aware of this relationship, and as a result they led a strained life. Squire Lawton would sometimes take extended trips to France and other destinations leaving Mariana alone in the huge mansion of the Lawton estate, other than for servants and other employees.

In her solitude Mariana spent countless hours training a bullfinch to sing “God Save the Queen” on request. Upon the ultimate death of the learned bird Mariana had it buried in front of the Lawton home, and on its grave was placed a tombstone, said to be the only stone in the town at the time. Mariana wrote a quite lengthy poem in honor of her bird which was copied to the stone.

The tombstone remained in front of the home for longer than a century. The Lawton family moved from the home in the first half of the 1900s, and after that the ancestral home began to deteriorate. By the 1990s the home was in sad shape having had several fires with no repairs. Frank Byatt wanted to preserve the ancient stone so he removed it to his garage for safekeeping. After the fairly recent renovation of the Lawton Manor the stone was replaced with proper festivities on December 14, 2007.