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Donaghadee Churchyard

Occupations recorded on the memorials


Occupations were rarely inscribed on the stones of those memorialised. Exceptions were members of the clergy, soldiers and medical men. From the Rev. Andrew Stewart (mentioned above) who died in 1671, until the Rev. Henry Coote who died in 1913 there were buried seven Church of Ireland vicars and/or rectors, including John Coningham, James Arbuckle, John Arnold, John Adams and John Hill. Two other vicars are mentioned, John Bowglass burying his wife and Nicholas Hamilton burying his son.


Five Wesleyan, or Methodist, ministers are named. These are Samuel Harpur, Thomas McIntyre and Samuel Wood buried in the churchyard, and William Foote and John Hill, each burying his wife. At least three Presbyterian ministers are recorded – John McAuley of Millisle, William Skelly of Donaghadee and Hans Douglas, recorded as burying his father.


Men of medicine were held in a similar regard in their communities. In Donaghadee churchyard we find nine doctors named and their profession inscribed. Two men, Bourjonval de Lacherois and Charles Hurst, are shown as MDs. and William Allister Catherwood is described as Surgeon-General. The others are Surgeons Cunningham, Blakeney and Walker, Dr. John Connelly and two Doctors called William McCance.


Nine soldiers and five sailors are named on the headstones. Of the soldiers two were sergeants – Anthony Gourley of the 8th Regiment of Dragoons and a Sgt. Hicks who was burying his daughter, Mary. Ensign Nicholas Delacherois of the 47th Regiment of the line was killed in the Peninsular War at Barrosa, another Nicholas Delacherois, a Lieutenant of the 7th Dragoon Guards, died in 1874 and Lieutenants William McMinn and James Power of His Majesty’s 15th and 32nd Regiments of Foot respectively died in 1829 and 1831.

Samuel Louis Delacherois, who died in 1836, was a Captain in the Antrim Militia, Major William Hull of His Majesty’s 62nd Regiment died in 1831 and Major Sir Thomas Lowry C.B. of the 7th Native Infantry of the East India Company died in 1819. Another member of the Delacherois family, Colonel Daniel Louis, of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles and the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, died in 1909. Two Generals are shown burying members of their family, but not themselves. George Leslie of the Royal Artillery (whose local connection is remembered by The General’s Walk, a short street of houses off the Millisle Road) buried his wife in 1893 and in 1924 Major-General McPherson buried his daughter.


It is somewhat surprising, given its maritime location and traditions, to discover so few naval officers and men among the names recorded in Donaghadee churchyard. The inscriptions for Boatswain William Wilson who died in 1833, “a young naval officer” called Peter Murray who drowned in Belfast Lough in an accident in 1850 and the grave of Commander John Land Wynn who died in 1844 are readily found. The last mentioned was a retired naval officer who became the Superintendent of the Donaghadee-Portpatrick Packet Company just a few years before this paddle-steamer service was discontinued in favour of the new Larne-Stranraer Ferry.


Another Delacherois family member, Lieutenant Louis, died in 1859 from injuries suffered during the Crimean War, reminding us that this war was not just magnificent cavalry charges. The best-known naval officer from the town is undoubtedly Rear-Admiral Samuel Leslie. His naval history may not be too familiar, but like the general and his walk, he is commemorated in Donaghadee by the Admiral Leslie Hall, now a Baptist church and formerly a “Free” School. This was founded in 1872 by the legacy of his widow, Martha, and dedicated to the memory of the Rear-Admiral.


Of much more immediate maritime interest to the people of Donaghadee was the Revenue Service. All through the nineteenth century customs-men, coastguards and water-guards kept a close eye on all legal and not-so-legal activities on the sea between Donaghadee and Portpatrick. Seven men who served in some of these capacities have their gravestones in the churchyard and Coastguard James Skinner buried two of his children there. John Bennett of Donaghadee rose in the Customs Service to be Superintendent in the station in Jersey in the Channel Islands and is commemorated in his home town. Possibly the most interesting inscription in the churchyard for a coastguard, and certainly the most sensational, must be that for Lieutenant Wintringham Seacole. According to a long account on the rather imposing stone, he was foully murdered by a colleague on his return from a journey on foot to Millisle on New Year’s Eve, 1839.

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