What does a skull and cross bones mean when on a grave?

It was a big pillar type grave - bout a metre high and 50cmX50cm wide The skull and cross bones was on the side - with the writing of who was burried there on the top (but too weathered to read) Its on a grave in a tiny grave-yard in derbyshire (St. Marys - Sutton Scarsdale Hall) We thought mabe a pirate but... show more It was a big pillar type grave - bout a metre high and 50cmX50cm wide
The skull and cross bones was on the side - with the writing of who was burried there on the top (but too weathered to read)

Its on a grave in a tiny grave-yard in derbyshire (St. Marys - Sutton Scarsdale Hall)

We thought mabe a pirate but if he was known to be a pirate he would have been hung and therefore not given a grave stone.
Another thought was that he was a captain that ambushed pirates
Another thought is that they died from a disease and it was to warn people

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28649046@N03/2674307193/

- this photo is of several graves - the one in question has a red box around it - the skull and cross bones is on the other side from where the picture was taken
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