Written in Stone: Meet the Carvers - James Ford

James Ford was a carver in the Salem, MA area.  He was known for carving winged skulls and winged heads.  His winged skulls are often indented into the stone with oval eyes and prominent teeth.  He often used wavy lines for the eyebrows and a distinctive scroll border.

Ford was born in 1721 and is believed to have begun carving in 1741 until his death in 1781.  He was reported to produce gravestones in Salem that are dated from 1767-1776.  Many of his stones may be found in Salem, MA but may also be found as far away as Old North Cemetery in Truro, MA.  Ford had background as a teacher, painter, illustrator and carpenter.  He taught penmanship to boys and was a treasurer of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem, MA.

Ford’s stone inscriptions often start with “Here Lyes the Body”.  His carvings showed characteristics that included the following: precise, fancy lettering, the use of lower case letters, the letter “J” was written as “I” and the “I was written as a “J”.

After his death in 1781, Ford was buried at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the left hand side of the doors.  He carved his own head and foot stone.  His inscription dimply reads:

In Memory

Of James Ford

Writing master, who

Departed this Life

June 27, 1781

in the 60th Year of his Age


Information found at:

  • http://www.capecodgravestones.com/carvers/ford.html
  • http://gravematter.smugmug.com/Massachusetts/Salem/Saint-Peters-Church-est-1733/1674676_bcpcG/1/82097691_Kmrht/Medium
  • http://cemeteryexplorers.blogspot.com/2010/05/james-ford-d1781.html
Click to share thisClick to share this