Londonderry – City of bones.
Extracted from The Annals of Derry, R Simpson.

As might have been expected, the City of Derry must have presented, at this time, a most dismal scene: it was, in fact, a charnel house, or City of bones! The following document was issued to persons appointed for the renovation of the town, generally             

Instructions for the underwritten overseers of Bishop’s street ward and the Church yards—May, 1690:’

You are to agree with labourers and carmen for carrying away the dirt, and covering the graves, within your respective yards, at the easiest rates.

You are to take narrow inspection into all houses and back-yards within your said ward, and to cause the several tenants, or inhabitants, to cleanse the same, and send the rubbish or dry dirt to the church yard for covering to the dead bodies; and all other filth, to such other convenient places as will not be nauseous to the City.

" You are to cause every inhabitant, before whose door there are any bomb holes unfilled up within your ward, to get the same filled up and paved at their proper charge.

" In such street or lane, where an inhabitant cannot be found to cleanse the same, and carry away the dirt out of such tenements as are laid waste, you are to cause it to be done at the public charge.

You are to advise and direct the several tenants within your ward, to make up fences about their back-yards and gardens, so soon as the same are cleansed.

" You are to endeavour to inform yourselves of all such people within your ward, as have laid their dirt upon any other inhabitant’s ground, or such other place as shall not be judged convenient for the same; and thereafter to give an account thereof to the Mayor, to the end they may be obliged to remove the said dirt.

" You are to make strict inquiry for all such persons, as have of late buried any dead body in any garden or back. yard within your ward, and to give due notice thereof to the Mayor and Governor, for preventing the like for the future.

You are, if any persons within your ward be refractory, or unwilling to observe such orders and directions as you shall, pursuant to the foregoing instructions, prescribe unto them, immediately to acquaint the Mayor therewith, that they may be forced to a due compliance.

To Mr. Robert Sherrard and Mr. John Graham."

In almost every part of the Island of Derry, both within and without the City, trenches full of human remains have been discovered, and single skeletons have been found. In clearing out the premises for the Gas Works, we have seen collected a vast heap of skulls and bones; and about five years ago, in clearing out a small inclosure, not far from Butcher’s gate, once the scene of great actions, and adjoining the premises occupied by the first Presbyterian Meeting House, a long trench was opened, out of which upwards of a dozen of skulls were raised; and from the regularity and sound appearance of the teeth, they seemed to us to have been those of young men who fell in the Siege: the remains were taken to manure a field for turnips! A stirrup-iron was also found amongst them .The ground had not been previously occupied as a grave yard.


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