Londonderry – City of bones.

Extracted from The Annals of Derry, R

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

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.