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Tolling of the Bell at Funerals in Stewartstown, 1847

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Tolling of the Bell at Funerals in Stewartstown, 1847
Extracted from the Belfast Newsletter, March 26 1847

Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia


On the 12th instant, a public meeting of the inhabitants of the parish of Donaghendry, Stewartstown, county Tyrone, of all religious persuasions, was held by public requisition, in the court-house of Stewartstown, for the purpose of taking into consideration what course it might be proper to pursue in reference to some late proceedings of the rector of the parish, in refusing the parish bell to be tolled in the cases of certain funerals which had lately taken place.

The meeting was most respectably and numerously attended by gentlemen of all classes of the professing Christians of the parish, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics. We observed the following gentlemen more prominently in the assemblage: EDWARD H. CAULFIELD, ESQ., J.P., and churchwarden, Drumcairn House, JAMES CAULFIELD, ESQ., MR. WILLIAM B. WHITTLE, churchwarden, MR. JOHN LITTLE, SURGEON WHITTLE, MESSRS. JOHN WEIR, ALEXANDER LITTLE, WILLIAM PARK, JUN., ANDREW CAMPBELL, JAMES PARK, JAMES McGRATH, JAMES LITTLE, JOHN CHARLES HUNTER, WILLIAM BROWN, JOHN MARTIN, ROBERT HENRY, WILLIAM MEGRAW, JAS. CREICHTON, JOHN LEE, HUGH KELSO, WILLIAM HYDE, HENRY FINLAY, REV. ROBERT ALLEN, presbyterian minister, REV. SAMUEL McCURDY, presbyterian minister, REV. MOSES FINLAY, presbyterian minister; and REV. MR. MAXWELL.

At twelve o’clock the chair was taken by EDWARD H. CAULFIELD, ESQ., Drumcairn House, one of the churchwardens of the parish.

It appears that the late MRS. PARK, of that town, had expressed a wish that the church bell should be tolled at her burial, which was notified to the incumbent of the parish, REV. JAMES GERAGHTY, who refused, stating as his reason, that a great irregularity, which occurred some time since, compelled him to accept as a general rule “that the church bell should not be rung on the occasions of funerals, unless the service of the church was to be used on the occasion”.

MR. BOYD FLEMING, a relative of the deceased, applied to the churchwardens, who ordered that the bell be tolled, but the rector persisted in refusing, which was understood as an insult to the Presbyterian body, whereupon the meeting was convened and resolutions condemnatory of the rector’s course passed – one of which was for the purpose of appointing certain persons to institute inquiry as to the legality of the matter, and also if were done by any order of the Lord Primate.

With this determination, the meeting broke up. – Abridged from the Newry Telegraph.

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