“Mr Jones – A respectable old man” & the moral outrage that followed his death in September 1848

 

Suicide was a crime and regarded as the height of profanity in Victorian Britain. A newspaper report of September 1848 shows how the rougher element of Carmarthen took full advantage on the Church of England’s revenge on the suicide, and how the Carmarthen Journal reported the incident – It makes uncomfortable reading even after 172 years. It is an event however that actually took place and therefore an historically important link to St David’s Cemetery itself.

 

MORAL OUTRAGE

“One of the most disgusting scenes witnessed in this Town for a long time took place. We allude to the burial without Funeral Rites of the body of a respectable old man named Jones who committed suicide.

It having become known that the body was to be interred, a vast concourse of people amounting to several hundred, assembled to witness the sad sight, and when the coffin was brought out about nine o’clock, (at night) borne on the shoulders of four men, who galloped away with it almost at the top of their speed, the scene was truly disgraceful to a civilised and Christian nation, as the conduct of the populace, who occupied the time in coarse and indecent jesting, laughing and jeering and other more depraved acts far more befitted a heathen than a civilised nation.

The body, having been brought into the churchyard,  was almost literally thrown into the grave and covered over with the greatest rapidity. If such scenes as these must be enacted, we think they may very easily be conducted in a more orderly manner and at a time when they are not likely to be attended by such truly demoralising accompaniments as characterised on Thursday night.”

 

Interestingly there is no entry of any surname by the name of JONES in the burial register for September 1848 and so we shall never know who this “poor unfortunate respectable old man” was or where he lived and died and indeed why he committed suicide. Where he would have been buried within the cemetery is also a mystery and we shall never know. I am sure however, that hopefully when the Cross of Souls memorial is erected & consecrated on the 3rd February next year it will finally bring rest at last to the soul of “Mr Jones” may he then rest in peace.