The Silent Land

Belfast Evening Telegraph, Saturday, April 13, 1907

XIV -- Derriaghy Burial-Ground.

Judging by the great number of ancient forts which have been found in the immediate district, Derriaghy must have been a centre of military activity in the days gone by. That the inhabitants of the neighbourhood were tenacious of the soil is evident if the report be true that French surnames are still common enough thereabouts, and that there can be found some who can claim direct descent from the Huguenots still occupying the same farms that were worked by the original settlers. Be that as it may, the graveyard contains proof of at least one family who have been burying their dead in the same plot for over two hundred years. The old stone stands beside the modern marble memorial. Here is a copy of the inscription on the ancient slab, which is said to be the oldest stone in the cemetery -

Who dyed Sept.
ember y 21 1702

In the newer portion of the graveyard the same arrangement has been carried out in connection with a perhaps more celebrated family. In this case the old slab was removed from among its contemporaries to its present position, where it lies beside a beautiful granite obelisk. At the head of the old stone there is an embossed device showing a hand holding a sheaf of wheat, and below the following inscription:-

MERCHANT, who died ye 13th
of November 1746 aged
      67 years.
also his wife MARY SEEDS
who died the 19th of said
month aged 62 years.
MERCHANT, who departed this
life 23rd September 1755 aged 32
      Here lyeth the
Bodys of Stephen,
Frances, Robt. and Ann,
children of William

The adjoining monument records the interment of more recent members of the family among whom may be specially mentioned Henry Seeds, of Belfast, Solicitor, Born 30th November 1815, Died 1st May 1877. This man was a prominent in his day, and contested one of the divisions of Belfast before the redistribution of seats.

In the neighbouring plot there is a quaintly-shaped memorial, which bears the following inscriptions side by side:--

Beloved wife of
Who fell asleep
at Derriaghy Vicarage
25th Feby. 1879.


Prebendary of Cairncastle
And for 26 years Vicar of this parish.
He fell asleep at Derriaghy Vicarage
12th July 1898.

There are some very grim tales told in connection with Derriaghy, and one is in connection with a past vicar of the parish, although I am not prepared to vouch for the authenticity of the story. It is related that the clergyman was very much disturbed in his mind by a peculiar dream in which the graveyard predominated. He dreamt the same dream on three consecutive nights, and unable to stand the strain any longer he got up, dressed and went to the church, which is situated in the middle of the burial ground, and there sure enough he found a young girl standing and the door. She explained she had come to keep an appointment with her lover. Upon going further the vicar found this man in a secluded part of the grounds busily engaged in digging a grave for his faithful sweetheart, of whom he was anxious to be rid. History does not relate what punishment was inflicted on the would-be murderer, but if the story be true it should form a strong argument for those who believe in dream warnings.

Oldest stone in Derriaghy
Oldest stone in Derriaghy

It might be mentioned in passing that although the present church is quite modern in appearance there was a time when it was thatched. Certainly there are a great many tombstones recording the deaths of good people who lived in the seventeenth and early in the eighteenth centuries. Away down in a hollow surrounded by a wall which has probably supported a roof at a time in its history, are a quartette of very ancient slabs. The dilapidated structure has a gate, but entrance is more easily obtained by scaling the wall. One of the stones bears the following inscription:-

HERE LYETH the body of
Hugh Murray who departed
this life the 23th day of
April 1773 aged 42 years.

Also y body of his daughter
Margaret, who dyed y 9th of
Sept. 1732 aged 11 months.

The "23th" taken with other evidences already published, would indicate that the sculpters of the early days have been universally careless. Another of these stones has three most peculiar devices carved in relief at the top. In one circle there is a winged sand glass above cross bones; in another two cherubim seem to be playing with Father Time's scythe; while the third shows a grinning skull above a heart. What these were intended to convey it would be difficult to suggest, but the work has been splendidly executed, and I only regretted that the camera which I carried was not equal to the task of reproducing them. Here is another peculiar item:--

ERECTED by Alexander Tuten
to the memory of his children viz.
John Tuten, senr., aged 2 years
John Tuten, junr., aged 2 years
Hamilton, aged 1 year.

It is not often that brothers of the same name are identified by "senr." and "junr." As a contrast to the youthful occupants of the plot we have one close by recording the death of

Wm. Dunlap, 86 years
and MARY his wife 104

while an adjoining slab intimates that

This Stone was erected
By Rodger Thompson of Old
Park Anno Domini 1814

although no burials are mentioned, and I understand the ground has not been claimed in accordance with the notice issued recently by the authorities. There is another railed-in space which has a local interest --

Here lies the remains
of Isabella
The tender and loved wife
of William Smith of Lisburn Esqr.
who departed this life on
the 26th day of June 1809
aged 53 years.
Here also lie the remains
of William Smith of Lisburn Esqr.
who departed this life
on the 26th day of January 1811
aged 63 years.
Here also lie the remains
of Robert Seymour Smith Esqr.
Manager of the Belfast Bank Antrim
who departed this life
the 19th day of February 1883
aged 36 years.
Here also lie the remains of
Samuel third son of
the Revd. Nathaniel Smith
Rector of Derrynoose and of Clonoe
Diocese of Armagh
and grandson of the above named
William Smith
who departed this life at Belfast
the 27th day of Feby. 1886
aged 80 years.

This plot is claimed by Rev. N. E. Smith, the respected pastor of Drew Memorial Church.

There are many memorials showing the wandering nature of Ulstermen, and there are records of some who have been buried in distant lands. One notice states that a young man died of apoplexy on a C.P.R. train near Montreal on his way home, and that his remains were interred by the "Sons of Portadown" L.O.L. 919 on the 7th August, 1906, in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto, while another Derriaghy man lies buried at Oamaru in New Zealand. But perhaps the most interesting monument is one that is situated close to the little entrance gate. The peculiar shape is sufficient to attract attention.

Underneath lie the mortal remains of
Born in Prussian Silesia and an Israelite
to the flesh but converted by the grace of God
to the faith of the gospel which he afterwards lived
to promote in public and in private for the space
of 20 years during 18 of which he was employed
in Ireland and especially in Ulster as agent to
The Society for Promoting Christianity
Among the Jews.
Thus did he endeavour to serve that Saviour
in whom he believed and whom he loved
until in death he could say
"Lord now lettest thou thy servant
Depart in Peace according to they word
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
This monument has been erected by
A few of his personal friends as a small memorial of affectionate regard
He departed to his rest on the 18th Sept. 1852
aged nearly 80 years.

There is also an inscription in Hebrew on the face of the column.

Is it not remarkable that a Prussian should be buried in such an out of the way place as Derriaghy? It is difficult to foretell what fate fortune has in store for us.

Kronheim Column

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