The search for Captain C. C. Scott

 

A grave tale

 

Dundee Advertiser, 30th December 1892

   Captain Scott, accompanied by Mrs Scott, visited Brighton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Plymouth returning to the Mars about ten days ago. He had however, obtained little benefit from his brief holiday, and it was observed by those on board thathe was looking far from well. On Monday he came ashore to the Cottage at Woodhaven, to which he was quite able to walk, and although not strong was cheerful. Dr Stewart, his medical, became anxious, however, about some alarming symptoms i ndicating serious derangement of the stomach, and at his suggestion Dr Bramwell came over from Edinburgh on Wednesday to a consultation, when Dr Stewart’s apprehensions were confirmed. The alarming symptoms became more pronounced, great weakness supervened, and, as already stated, death occurred yesterday between 4 and 5pm. Deceased was in his 66th year.

 

    On Sunday the 4th November 2007 armed with a map of the Western cemetery in Dundee which I had been kindly sent by the parks department which identified the site of the grave of Captain Charles Casely Scott, Captain Superintendent of the Mars Training Ship, once again I am walking back in time to glue together the past. Susan and I set out to find the gravestone of some destiny, with a mixture, I must admit, of excitement and trepidation at what we might find. In the late autumn sun we approach the gates of the cemetery and we follow the route map though the forest of marble tombstones onwards and upwards.

    I had begun the search a few months earlier visiting local Fife graveyards close to Woodhaven Pier in Wormit near to where the Mars was anchored, and while this was an enlightening experience Captain Scott’s final resting place had still alluded me. I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for this man, whether I am being fooled by the artist’s etching of an apparently kind man from the pages of the ‘Piper o’ Dundee’ I’m not sure. I had also come upon a fantastic and rare photograph of him and some of the Mars boys on board the ship with friends and crew taken in 1871 which had also served to fire my imagination. I had found it amongst the complete collection of Admission and Discharge books lovingly preserved, restored and kept in the Blyth Hall, in Newport. These books had been saved from destruction by Alan Johnston who found them in Dundee on their way to the skip, these invaluable volumes contain a record of every boy that set foot on the Mars from 1869 to 1929, a priceless archive saved from the fire of the Philistines.

    My research latterly had led me to believe that Captain Scott had been buried in Dundee and on one bright sunny day in October, with time on my hands, I head towards the old Howff graveyard to try my luck there. The problem with graveyards is that they must be accessible to the public and with that goes a duty of the public to act responsibly. There has always been a belief that these edifices are sacred and that the graveyard is sacrosanct, though I doubt that that has ever crossed the mind of the waster and the vandal. It is sad to walk around these memorials which have been so abused over the years and see how many now lie shattered, broken or are crumbling to dust, like visual reflections of the corpses beneath. There can be no other works of art so open to abuse by the casual idiot that the nation will accept and not rise up in arms against their desecration, instead we simply let it happen. The wonderful craftsmanship in many of the oldest stones should be preserved and exhibited in museums and not left to be destroyed or left to rot and decay. Is it because we can’t make up our minds what should be done with them? It’s almost as if we believe that the responsibility to protect them belongs to the poor soul buried six feet underneath.

   Climbing down from my high horse I continue the odyssey. My search in the Howff is fruitless but later during one of my many visits to Dundee City Archives they suggest that I call the Parks Department and ask them for their assistance, I decide to take their advice.

    The Parks Department could not have been more helpful, this is not intended as an advertisement but you like to give credit where credit is due.  Armed with his full name and the date of his death, 30th December 1892, they, with a little effort, pin point his place of burial in the Western cemetery and within a couple of days a map is duly despatched to me.

    At the cemetery we near the place where X marks the spot and we begin to talk about what we expect to find that we don’t already know. We fully expect to see a record of his past endeavours both in the Navy and on the Mars recognised, writ large in stone. Possibly we will find some other things that we do not know? Or even a message, chiselled in granite, from the grateful boys under his charge? As we climb the last few steps up to plot X1V row 1, No 9 C.A.B. Susan heads off in one direction and I in another looking for our gravestone. I must say that secretly I hope to find it first but I would be as happy if Susan does, I think. We circle, then we go up and down the rows expecting that the next one will reveal my hero. After twenty fruitless minutes our paths cross again and we confer, we turn the map this way and that to help decipher the mystery. I had noticed that there had people gardening by the cemetery gate as we came in and a water tap is close to where we are searching and is now being used by a man who undoubtedly has some official duty in the cemetery. Susan decides to take the map over to him to explain our confusion; he listens patiently, and tells us that one of the other ladies helping him may be of more use in the search. We are soon joined by the said lady who though she has much more knowledge of the area than we do she also unfortunately fails to locate our gallant Captain. I leave them to it and wander off to see if he has been misplaced in time, or numerically, and now he lies forgotten in some lonely corner of the graveyard. It comes to naught and when I rejoin Susan the sun is becoming colder in the late afternoon and she is standing alone looking at the map and examining small markings on a gravestone. She explains that there is a code on the bottom of many of them and by a process of elimination we reluctantly come to the conclusion that there is no gravestone for Captain Scott only an area of grass under which we think he now lies.

      This seems almost impossible to our minds that this man should be laid to rest in an unmarked grave. The Victorian era, when death was marked so religiously, so reverently, so ostentatiously that a man who had served with distinction in the Navy and given 22 years loyal and dedicated service on the Mars should go to meet his maker without an introduction? It beggars belief that he should not be remembered above ground by the well respected committee members of the Mars Training Ship Institution, even as a glorious exhibition of what they believed that they had collectively achieved? We look further for marks where a gravestone might have been and find nothing, no sign that anything had ever been erected on this spot on his behalf. Over a reflective drink in Mennie’s, one sheep dip and a pint of cider later we decide that the only course is to go back to the Parks Department to see if they have any record of a marker for the grave.

 THE PLOT THICKENS

    At half past nine on the following morning I phone the Parks department and the news I receive is even more surprising than I could have imagined. They explain that if we found no gravestone on site they can’t tell if there has ever been one. This is not the news I want to hear and just as I was going to thank her and hang up the phone she asks me ‘did you know that there are five bodies in the plot?’ All I can say is that I’m glad that I was sitting down, the list of people in the plot is about to surprise me even more.

 

    The first body in the grave in 9b was interred on the 30th of March 1891, she was Caroline Jessie Lennox, wife of C.C. Scott, who died at Woodhaven, Newport of Scarlet Fever aged 31.

    Next on January 3rd 1893 in 9a was Charles Casely Scott, Staff Commander Captain, died of a derangement of the stomach age 65.

   The next was interred on the 10 October in 1901 and is yet another mystery as the page is missing from the record book.

   Plot 9c interred 14th March 1906 is Agnes Wheeler, Widow, died at Seacraig on the 11th March aged 76 of pneumonia.

   This last internment is Edith Rose Scott, spinster, who died at Fernbrae on the 19th September 1942.

 

    This startling piece of information that there are two wives buried here comes as yet another bolt from the blue, for my research into Captain Scott’s life and times. Looking at the dates from these records, and some others, it would appear that Captain Scott’s son Augustus Lennox Scott was 3 years older than his mother! This can be easily explained by Captain Scot having being married previously, making Caroline his second wife and Agnes his third, but his son’s middle name, Lennox, being the same as the maiden name of Caroline, the first lady in the grave, seems to point more likely to human error when recording her age. Still, if true, it has to be said that Captain Scott must have been quick off the mark, as his late wife, 31 year old Caroline had died in March 1891, and in the census records of the same year he has obviously taken a new wife as her name is given as Agnes. There is again an obvious though possibly completely erroneous conclusion which can be drawn from his quick return to married life. As is recorded in the Mars minute books, also held at the Blyth Hall, at that time he had been suffering from stress and was not enjoying the best of health, he may have decided, for the good of his children, to marry someone who would care for them should he pass on. The choice of the 61 year old widow Agnes Wheeler would seem an admirable one and as he was to die two years later it was also timely.

    The following day on the bus to St Andrews, to visit my Dad, with pad and pen in hand I begin to do the arithmetic on all the dates, ages and relationships, the numbers simply don’t add up! When I discuss it with my Dad it seems to make even less sense. Talking through the dates, events and numbers with someone else really does help and nobody on the bus appeared approachable enough to listen to my obsession. It is the first wife’s age that is the real problem, 31 is so out of character with the Captain Scott I thought I was looking for. Working out the ages I start looking at the possibility of human error and the possible implications if she actually was 51 or 61, a simple mistake to make? There is only one thing for it, back to the Parks Department and see if there is any chance of proving that my theory is correct. As usual they are polite and patient yet I can only imagine by now that they are getting a bit irked by my questions. Once again I explain who and what I am looking for and once again they open the old, fragile, handwritten books.

   I ask if she will check, once again, the details of the first burial ‘are you absolutely positive she was 31 years old? Could it not be that she was 51 or 61?’ She replies, after some examination ‘absolutely not’. I explain my reasoning behind my question and she begins to read all the details very slowly to me, half way through she pauses and exclaims ‘No!’

‘Pardon?’ I reply, she says that she is going to get a second opinion and after a short pause she says, ‘yes the handwriting is very unclear but we agree, that it’s not wife, it’s daughter!’ This is exactly what I want to hear, at last my world is back spinning in the right direction again and though the absence of a gravestone is still a massive issue, at least I can concentrate on that instead of following ‘dead ends’.

    Once again I reflect on the words in the Mars minute book of 30th December 1892 where the chairman explained ‘that he had called the meeting in consequence of the sudden and unexpected death of Captain Scott the Superintendent of the Mars. He gave an account of an interview with Mrs Scott and some members of the family in connection with the funeral arrangements, and he desired to know whether the committee wished to give any directions or to express any views in regard to whether the funeral arrangements should be in naval order or otherwise. After some consideration the meeting requested the chairman to express to Mrs Scott the desire of the committee that provided the family had no objections they would like that the band of the Mars along with say 100 boys should form part of the procession from Craig Pier to the ceremony.’

   For some background I come upon a contemporary account of New Year 1892 in the Peoples Journal of January 7th 1893

THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

The ‘Happy New Year’ and other greetings usual at the birth of another year were less frequently accompanied by the too common practise of ‘passing the bottle’ the pyrotechnic display also on the small scale. A squib spluttered here, a cracker there, and now and again a rocket shot upwards, illuminating the darkness for a brief spell, while a roman candle blazes forth from some third or fourth storey window. Under these conditions the boom of the gun at the barracks was heard, the steeple and St Paul’s church bells rang out a merry peal, and the crowd, first raising a cheer of welcome to 1893, dispersed homewards or to the houses of friends to ‘first fit,’ carrying with them bags of sweets, oranges and other seasonable gifts. Soon the streets were cleared of people and stands, the shops put up their shutters, and the policemen on their respective beats were alone left in possession. It may be mentioned that in the course of Saturday and yesterday about 60 persons were lodged in the police offices.

    On the day of his funeral, Tuesday the 3rd of January 1893 the Advertiser reports that the weather had been cold and frosty over the New Year holiday, and many workers in Dundee had not yet returned to work, the scene in the deserted city streets must have seemed eerily quiet. On the Tuesday fresh snow had been falling throughout the day, ‘the result was that the streets in the centre of Dundee rapidly became wet and slippery, and this together with the mud which adhered to footways caused walking to be attempted with considerable difficulty.’  We can only imagine this large, solemn procession including City dignitaries, friends, colleagues, 100 Mars boys, the ship’s band all led by coach and horses as it made its way, with some difficulty, from Craig Pier, where the Discovery now is, up Union Street, on to the Nethergate, along the Perth Road and into the countryside, the site of the Western Cemetery, to pay their last respects to Captain Scott and lay him to rest in an unmarked grave? I’m sorry but it makes no sense at all.

    The next port of call is to revisit the Wellgate local history library to see if my argument holds any water and if the parade took place it’s just the kind of article to be featured in the Dundee Advertiser. The microfiche is loaded by Deirdre into the machine and I begin to scroll through the negative pages, squinting at the small writing I spot a little fleck of gold dust. On the top right of page 5 of the January the 4th 1893 edition of the Dundee  Advertiser the word ‘Funeral’ catches my eye, I refocus and read on, ‘Funeral of Captain Scott R.N.’ Eureka!

     The funeral of Captain Scott, R.N., Superintendent of the Training Ship Mars, who died at his residence at Woodhaven on Thursday last, took place yesterday afternoon, the remains being interred at the Western Cemetery, Dundee.

Nothing earth shattering so far, but I have to admit the hairs on the back of my neck are beginning to bristle.

From his public position and long connection with Dundee, the deceased was well known, and the obsequies were consequently largely attended by all classes of the community. The remains were first conveyed in a hearse from Woodhaven to S. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Newport, where a religious service was held at one o’clock. The Rev. S. B. Hodson and the Rev W. S. Nicholson, S. Salvador’s, Dundee, were the officiating clergymen, and there was a large attendance of the general public. The coffin, which was of oak, with heavy brass mountings, was covered in the Union Jack, and surmounted by a number of beautiful floral wreaths sent by the Mars boys, the officers of the Mars, Mrs D. H. Littlejohn, Mrs Lennox Scott, Dr and Mrs Walter Scott, Tulse Hill, London; Mr and Mrs Mess, Dundee; Mrs Leng, Kinbrae; Mr and Mrs John A. Leng, Newport; Mrs Moir, Kilburn Bank, Newport; Miss Adie, Newport; Mrs James Adie, Thornbank, Dundee; Mrs and Miss Morison Duncan of Naughton; Mr and Mrs John B. Walker of Westwood; Mr and Mrs William Walker. Placed in the chancel, the coffin bore the following inscription:-

Charles Casely Scott

Staff-Commander,R.N.

Captain Superintendent Mars

Born

21st February 1827

Died

28th December 1892

The service was that prescribed by the English Church, and was very impressive. It included the chanting by the choir of the familiar words “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” and the singing of the hymn, “Jesu, lover of my soul.” At the conclusion the coffin was borne out of the church, the Dead March being played the while on the organ. At the foot of the steps the cortege was formed. The hearse was preceded by the Mars Band and the officers of the ship, and was followed by the mourners, viz. – Mr A. L. Scott, Dr C. C. Scott, and Mr F. E. Scott sons; Mr Alexander Mackay, assessor, Thurso, brother-in-law; Mr D. H. Littlejohn, son-in-law; Master Charles Littlejohn, grandson; and ex-Provost Robertson. Following these were a number of the personal friends of the deceased and a large body of the public, among others present behind the Reverend Thomas Munn and the Rev. James Scotland. On the Tay Ferries Pier 100 boys from the ship were drawn up in two lines, between which the hearse and the company passed the band, which had been stationed at the top of the pier, playing the Dead March and “When our hearts are bow’d with woe.” In Newport the procession was witnessed by most of the inhabitants, and several shopkeepers closed their place of business as it passed. Flags floated at half mast from the mansions in the burgh and from the flagstaffs at the Blyth Hall, the boatsheds, and the Mars Training Ship.

So far so good with the theory of a large ceremony, but would they sail to Dundee alone to a quiet, private burial? I read on.

AT CRAIG PIER

A large number of mourners waited the arrival of the body, while outside the street was crowded by the general public. Shortly after two o’clock the Tay Ferries steamer drew alongside. The cortege was then re-formed, with the Mars Band in front, the boys immediately behind, then the hearse, with the officers of the ship walking on each side, followed by the chief mourners (including from this point Mr W. O. Dalgleish, President of the Mars Training Ship Institution), the general company bringing up the rear in a long line of carriages. In this order the procession slowly wended its way to the cemetery, and all along the route, via Union Street, Nethergate, and the Perth Road, it was witnessed by crowds. The band with muffled drums, played the Dead March in “Saul.” At the cemetery; the concluding part of the English Church service was conducted by the Rev. Mr Hodson, and at the close the band – which, along with the Mars boys, surrounded the grave – played the well known hymn, so appropriate on such sad occasions, “When the heart is bow’d with woe.” Among those who attended the funeral in addition to those already mentioned were – Mr Leng, M. P.; ex-Lord Provost Hunter, Mr Thomas Bell, Mr David Bruce, Mr George Halley, Mr J. H. Walker, Mr W. Y. Blyth Martin, Mr James Mudie,, Captain Clayhills Henderson, R.N.;  the Rev J.J. Dunbar, the Rev. Joseph Holder; Mr William Thomson Jnr.; Mr John A. Leng; Mr T. Littlejohn;  Dr McGillvray; Dr Stewart, Newport; Dr Peter Campbell, Professor Waymouth Reid, Mr R. N. Adie: Fleet-Surgeon Bell Murray, R.N.; Mr J. J. Johnstone, Mr Walter Campbell; Mr David Harris, Edinburgh; Mr James Campbell, Mr James Morton, Mr Richard A. Miller, Mr Alexander Mackay; Mr W. M. Dickson, Baldovan; Mr James Reoch, Mr Andrew Meldrum; Mr David Dewar, Chief Constable; Mr George Law, Forfar; Mr William Gellatly, Broughty Ferry; Mr James Adie, Mr James W. Moir, Mr Moir, Mr Archibald W. Sturrock, Mr F. S. Tolputt, Mr Alfred Boare, Mr B. Clements; Mr G. R. McNab, Perth; Mr George J. A. Kidd; Mr D. Brown Livie jun.; Mr James Mollison, Mr James N. Tait, &c. The funeral arrangements were carried out by J. & J. Gray.

    It may be mentioned that yesterday morning each boy on board the Mars received a leaflet, in which Mr A. L. Scott, eldest son of the deceased stated that the reason the number of those to be permitted to attend the funeral was limited to 100 was the prevalence of sickness in Dundee. “I know,” he said, “that every officer and boy in the ship would like to pay the last mark of respect to me father by following his body to the grave, and would like to show how deeply they feel the loss of the noble-minded gentleman who for the last 23 years has devoted his life to them.” That, however, for the reasons mentioned, was impossible.

                                           

  I actually feel a little guilty prying into the very private yet oh so public grief of the Scott family at this time, yet I suppose that this is the purpose of this book to exhume the past without disturbing the remains, but is that possible? The honour and ceremony of the funeral procession to the Western cemetery only increases my need to prove at least the stone’s existence. I can also accept that Captain Scott may have decided to be laid to rest without undue remembrance but the fact that his daughter had preceded him I cannot believe the family did not mark that tragic event with a headstone?

    The search will go on to solve this and other mysteries in the history of ‘the Mars Training Ship Institution in the River Tay for Homeless and Destitute Boys’ and if I can solve enough of them ‘We’ll send ye tae the Mars’ should eventually make the book shops some day. I’ll leave the last words to this poem from the Piper O’Dundee,

 

‘In memoriam Captain Scott R. N., the Mars, April 1897’,

 

Toll, toll the muffled bell

The ensign hang half-mast;

Bear to his bier our sad farewell –

Our chief’s in port at last

 

His bark with grating keel

Has touched the shining strand,

And others now must take the wheel

He held with faithful hand

 

No more on board the Mars

Shall ring his clear command;

Never again the little tars

Will grasp his friendly hand

 

Courteous and kind was he

A sailor staunch and true;

No braver spirit rules the sea

No kindlier donned the blue

 

To ocean’s furthest rim

The lads he reared have spread

And many a manly eye will dim

To know the Captain’s dead

 

Then toll the muffled bell

The ensign hang half-mast

Bear on the bier a last farewell

To him whose soul has passed.                                                W.C.D.