Wednesday 10 May 2017

The Tomb of John and Isabella Fergus, Mercer's Cove, Bay Roberts.

I blogged recently about a Jack ‘o Lantern which was said to haunt Big Island in Bay Roberts, and I suggested that Big Island was the same spot as Fergus Island. Local historian Mike Flynn backed me up on this, and today I found this reference to back it up:
“By 1560, Bay Roberts was used by Jersey fishermen, and Spaniards were there, too, perhaps from as early as 1588. Reports that the original name was Bay of Robbers because of the many pirates in the 1500s and 1600s have not been substantiated. Jersey fishermen referred to the area as Roberts Bay and used places later known as Beachy Cove and Big or Fergus Island.”
“History: Bay Roberts.” Decks Awash, vol. 20, no. 01 (January-February 1991) p 3-13.
The name Fergus Island comes from one John Fergus, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who opened a mercantile establishment at Bay Roberts in 1812. John Fergus, along with his daughter, Isabella, are buried nearby, at the old Wareham’s Lane Cemetery, Mercer’s Cove, Bay Roberts.

Unlike any other grave in Bay Roberts, John and his daughter Isabella share an above-ground tomb, a reminder of their relative wealth in the community in the early 19th century. A tomb is generally a burial receptacle or container where a body or bodies are stored above ground. The Fergus tomb is a pretty good example of what is known variously as a box tomb, slab tomb, box grave, or chest tomb.

You can read all about the different types of possible tombs here:
The inscribed text on the Fergus tomb is very faint, and hard to read, but the project gives this as the text:

"Sacred to the memory of Isabella Fergus, native of Glasgow, Wife of William Donnelly, Merchant, who died 19th June 1843, aged 36 Years."


"Sacred to the memory of John Fergus, Merchant, native of Glasgow, who died 15th July 1835, Aged 53 years."

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