Lair 966: Interment mystery solved

A rather sad story for you now. In July 2014, Blantyre man Robert Stewart emailed me a list of people who were buried in unmarked graves in High Blantyre Cemetery. In all cases, no names were known. Robert, being knowledgeable in Blantyre’s Cemeteries told me that between 1875 and 1914, a total of eleven unknown people were interred in the common ground in High Blantyre Cemetery. Some facts were recorded and these people included a child who drowned in 1897 and a 20 year old woman in 1908. None of these people had any headstone.

Finding the list particularly interesting, i searched through archived newspaper reports, especially just before the bodies were buried and knowing each interment, was able to conduct a meaningful search in the local press of the time. Unfortunately, in 10 of the eleven cases, my search was in vain, with nothing returned as positive evidence for the people. However, one person did show up in the newspaper reports.

Robert had noted in his spreadsheet on 10th December 1884, a body was found next to the railway, unknown age and now in lair 966. I found a positive lead on this body and was able to add some detail as to who this person was.

Common Ground. Lair 966 is near the back wall.

Common Ground. Lair 966 is near the back wall.

Thanks to Evening Telegraph on Thursday 11th December 1884, I can confirm this was a newborn male child, found deceased by the railway line on Tuesday 9th December 1884. The exact report is as follows: “Evening Telegraph on Thursday 11 December 1884. SUSPECTED CHILD MURDER. On Tuesday morning, James Monaghan, lampman, was proceeding along the North British Railway, towards Craighead signal cabin, Blantyre, he found the dead body of a newly born male child lying on the six-foot way. The body, with the exception the head, which was bare, was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a strong cord. Monaghan informed the stationmaster at Greenfield (near Burnbank), and the body was afterwards removed to the police station at Blantyre, where it was seen by Grant. The police are making inquiry into the matter. The body was considerably smashed, leaving the impression that it had been thrown from a carriage window. “

Tragically, it would appear a murder inquiry was launched to find out what had happened, but I couldn’t find the result or any charges. I strongly suspect the child’s parents were never identified and if the child had been thrown so inhumanly from the train, the parents could have originated perhaps outwith Blantyre. The unnamed child’s final resting place is Lair 966 , in an unmarked grave in High Blantyre Cemetery. Robert informed me the lair is approximately 20 yards from the back wall in this picture.


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