No False Telegram, 1928

From the Nottingham Journal, 11 September 1928:

An Irish solicitor, Mr NC Caruth, of Ballymona (Co Antrim) left a curious request in his will just proved. He directed that if any of his sons were abroad at the time of his death no false telegram shall be sent announcing his death, but his wife should write a letter to each son giving details and any message he might have, stating “I make this rather peculiar request as I have had experience in my lifetime of receiving telegrams of a like nature and am well acquainted with the unnecessary pain they cause to those who receive them.”‘

Mr Caruth was probably old enough to remember the tragic death of James M Sinclair, Magistrate and High Sheriff of County Donegal, found shot dead at his residence, Bonnyglen, Mountcharles, in 1899. According to the Pontypool Free Press, of 1 September 1899, this was

due to an unfortunate misapprehension on the part of the deceased himself. It appears that a Miss Rose, with whom Mr Sinclair had stayed in Dublin, died, and some persons wired on Sunday to Mr Sinclair saying ‘Miss Rose dead’. This being also the name of his favourite daughter, who was staying at Burtonport, boating there, he thought it was she who had got drowned, and as they were most strongly attached he was completely overcome, and after giving orders for the horses to be got ready to take him to Burtonport he shot himself.

Just one example of the terse nature of the telegram resulting in unintended tragedy. Viewed against this context, Mr Caruth’s request appears to have been both thoughtful and prescient – signs of a good solicitor!

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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