The body was laid out in a coffin and placed in the dining room so that friends and family could pay last respects. Evidently it was not uncommon in those days for people to be declared dead and buried a bit prematurely. A person might be in a coma and thus be buried while still alive. Slaves were commonly scheduled in rotating shifts over several days to look for signs of life prior to the burial. This is a wax figure of a slave keeping watch over the body.
On the 28th of October, the Carlyle House will perform a reenactment of the funeral of John Carlyle. I’ll be there!