Mr. Alfred Beattie of Lewis Street, Derry…
“Mr. Alfred Beattie (59) of Lewis Street, Derry has been missing from his home since Wednesday last and considerable anxiety prevails as to his whereabouts. Mr. Beattie, who is unmarried, lived with his sister, Mrs. Wilson, and is a well known Derryman. He was last seen about six o’clock on Wednesday evening last. The matter has been reported to the police, who are making inquiries with the object of trying to ascertain his whereabouts, but up to the present there has been no news of him.” Published in the Derry Journal on 6 February 1929.
Alfred was born in Fountain Place on 17 Jul 1868 in the City of Londonderry; he was the fifth son and eight child of ten born to James Beattie and Rebecca McCadden. He is my great grand uncle and a brother to Charlotte Wilson (nee Beattie), my great grandmother.
Little is known of Alfred until 1893 when I discovered the death record for his sister Rebecca. Her death registration revealed that Alfred was with her at time of death; at their parents’ residence at 81 Marlborough Park.
The 1901 Census record finds Alfred, a Cooper; living at 52 Creggan Road with his widowed mother, two of his brothers and his niece Millie. By the time the 1911 Census was taken Alfred, who never married; was still living with his brothers and mother – still in Creggan Road, but now at number 81.
Alfred disappeared off the radar once again until 8 Feb 1915 when I unearthed a Short Service Attestation. “Oath To Be Taken By Recruit on Attestation” – “Alfred Beattie, swears by Almighty God, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs, and Successors, and that I will as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown, and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs, and Successors, and of the Generals and Officers set over me. So help me God.” Interestingly the record shows that Alfred was thirty three years of age at the time he enlisted… in fact, he was forty six!
In a document entitled “Certificate of Trade Proficiency” it confirmed that Alfred was a Cooper. Details from an examination by a “Civilian Tradesman” stated, “I certify that I have tested the Recruit Alfred Beattie and find him to be Very Good Cooper.” The same document disclosed that “he had been seventeen years employed as a Cooper with Messrs. D. Watt Distillers, Ltd. in Londonderry.”
His Military Medical History revealed “Sapper Alfred Beattie of the Royal Engineers, Regimental No. 64259 was five feet six inches in height and weighed nine stone. On 18 Mar 1915 another Medical record divulged that he was “unfit for General Service, RE Depot.” The documentation also demonstrated that Alfred had been enlisted before. Although I have not found any other Military Records for him; his Attestation Record has given me a clue – two previous Regimental Numbers! It would seem much more information remains to be discovered about Alfred’s Military history.
By 9 Jan 1918 and after numerous assessments and internal memos between Alfred and the Ministry of Pensions; I uncovered that he was receiving a weekly pension of 27/6 shillings for four weeks. The amount was then reduced to 16/6 shillings which was to be reviewed after an additional 26 weeks. Disability notation on the record stated: “Injury to fingers”. After further research more details were uncovered which validated that Alfred’s injury was incurred while on leave as he was disembarking from a tram car! It’s unclear if Alfred worked again as a Cooper after his Military Medical Discharge.
Alfred, a bachelor; who lived with his sister Charlotte was reported missing on 30 Jan 1929. A subsequent article published in the Derry Journal on 8 Mar 1929 entitled, “Derry Panic, Alarm About Water Following Reservoir Discovery, Citizen Trek to Springs” declared, “Something in the nature of a panic has been caused among householders in several parts of the city by news of the discovery of the dead body of a man in one of the reservoirs at Creggan. The man, Alfred Beatty, aged 59, of Lewis Street, was missing since 30th January. On Wednesday his body was found by Wm. Hutchinson, caretaker at the reservoir. It was floating a few yards from the edge of the basin.”
An Inquest was held on 6 Mar 1929 by John Tracy Esq., Coroner for Derry City; stating that Alfred had drowned in the Creggan Reservoir. I will never know for sure his actual date of death; he had been missing for over a month.
Such a sad and lonely way to die – not all stories have happy endings! Like so many others, my 2nd great uncle Alfred is someone I will never forget.