One of the earliest gravestones I have seen can be found in the Copps Hill Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It’s interesting to note that in order to keep within the design boundaries of this elaborate gravestone, the text has been scrunched together.
In the surname WALTERS, the letters L, T, E have been overlapped using the downward stroke of L to create T and E. The same process has been used in the word THIS where the downward stroke of T is shared by the letter H.
The inscription on the gravestone uses Old English text and translates as:
Here Lies Buried
The Body Of Captain
Aged 53 Years
Departed This Life
August The 13th
Above the winged effigy is the Latin phrase ‘Hodie Mihi Cras Tibi Sic Transit Gloria Mundi’ which translates as My Turn Today, Yours Tomorrow. And Thus Passes Away The Glory Of The World.
On a side note, this phrase is used in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander historical novel series when Claire visits the tombstone of Lady Sarah Fraser at Beauly Priory.