My grandfather William Martin, (Postman Bill), who came from St Johnston,
County Donegal, worked for the Derry City Post
Office, from 1873 until he retired in 1917. His PO record shows that in
1899 he was awarded a GCS (Good Conduct Strip) and 2 shillings and a further
GCS and 4 shillings in 1906 - clearly he had been delivering his letters to
the right addresses. He bought a plot in the Londonderry Cemetery (Section
D, Class b, Plot No. 7) in 1877 where his father James (d 1877), mother
Eliza (d 1893) and wife Bridget (d 1937) are buried.
Imagine my consternation when visiting Londonderry City Cemetery last month
to find the cemetery records indicate that William (d 1917) was not buried
in the Db7 family plot but along with a Mr Henry Carton in a gravesite, Dc7,
owned by Mary Carton. Neither of these graves are marked by any headstones
so one depends on the cemetery records.How ironic if, after 40 years
conscientious service with the mail,
Postman Bill should have been delivered to the wrong address.
Perhaps, in his latter years he had built up a relationship with this Mary
or even with HENRY CARTON? (Did that sort of thing actually happen in
Catholic Ireland in those days???). What a scandal! And can you just
imagine the confusion on resurrection day!
Is it possible that Postman Bill died in the arms of Mary instead of the bed
of Bridget and if so was laid to rest in the Carton grave in order to allay
a possible uproar? Closer examination of the records reveal that Henry
Carton died in 1886, 31 years before Postman Bill. Are the cemetery records
hinting at the first recorded instance of joint posthumous necrophilia in
William's death certificate records that he died in the presence of his son
James who is know to have spent 20 years in the Royal Navy. Was this a
cover story for the benefit of posterity or had son James already developed
an affection for Rum and supplied copious quantities of this beverage to
those who attended the Postman Bill wake? Were the officials from the
office at the wake along with William's relatives and buddies from his old
days in the postal service? One can just imagine the lot of them staggering
Eugene's RC Church to the cemetery and, under the influence of the excess of
Rum, sliding Postman Bill into the nearest convenient open grave.
Whoever said that genealogy was a dull subject!!
Can listers advise me if I should have Postman Bill exhumed from the Carton
plot and re-interred with his wife and parents? (One hopes he will not be
found wrapped around Henry) What will the cost of all of this be and what
legal steps do I need to take? Will we be able to keep it out of the press?
Your advice is urgently sought
"A bird in the bush is worth two in the Cat"