Dalbeth Memorial – Clyde Anomalies

My history colleague, Alex Rochead recently pointed out potential errors or mistakes in the burial records of the Blantyre Pit Disaster miners who were buried at Dalbeth. This all highlights the difficulties in recording the identities, names and ages of the miners in the immediate weeks after the disaster.

What is fact, determined from death certificates, is that James Clyde Snr (38) died on 22nd October 1877, as did his son William Clyde (14) and other son James Clyde Jnr (12). In the Register of burials at St Peters Cemetery (Dalbeth) for this disaster, it says that James Clyde Snr was buried alongside his son William Clyde. Their ages aren’t recorded on the register and strangely there is no mention of little James Clyde, which is strange.

On the Dalbeth Memorial, this appears to have been corrected with James Clyde Snr and James Clyde Junior noted as being buried in the cemetery, their ages missing from the stone. But again, strangely where was a third son, William?

When looking at the death certificates and registrars of corrected entries,  it’s clear a mistake was made on the resigner of burials at Dalbeth, incorrectly stating William was buried along side his father on 6 November 1877 at Dalbeth. Possibly due to identification of bodies and what state Agnes Clyde (widow and mother) was in at this time.

James Clyde Snr (38) was buried alongside his son James Clyde Jnr (12) at Dalbeth, and whilst the burial register was wrong, the memorial got it right. Other son William (14) was however buried at High Blantyre Cemetery, NOT together with his father and brother. There is a good reason for this.

James Clyde’s death was registered on 6th November 1877 when together with the body of his youngest son James Clyde Jnr, were brought up to the surface that day, some 2 weeks after the disaster. William’s body would not be recovered until 22nd November 1877, a full month after the explosion.

James Clyde Snr was buried in Dalbeth Cemetery. He was so badly injured in the explosion, a decision was made to close the coffin and he could only be identified by his wife from a shoe and a tartan cravat. It is quite possible he was buried with his youngest son, given they were brought up in the same day. By the time William’s body had been brought up, the burials were all taking place at High Blantyre, which may have been due to the large trenches now created to accommodate so many bodies.

So , this really is a story of the burials in this family being split between two different cemeteries, merely out of circumstance.

It’s not to say however, that memorials are always correct! As will be seen in other forthcoming posts, unfortunately, there are errors on the Dalbeth Cemetery Memorial both in terms of names and ages, which thankfully are corrected on the recent High Blantyre Memorial stones erected last year.

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