The names on the gravestones
In general terms, the most common names found on Carmavy headstones could well be the same as those found all over Ulster. Stewart tops the list followed closely by Bell and Brown. Then come more unusually (and more locally) Barron and Harper. Amongst slightly lesser numbers of Crawford and Scotts are the more locally prevalent McComb(e), Robb, Kirker and Patrick. Conspicuous because they are unusual are the surnames Officer, Winder, Marwick, Herdman and Louden, for example, which have only one instance each.
About fifteen different stonemasons have added their names to the various memorials they have worked on. The only pre-1900 dates on these particular memorials are 1836 and 1886. The majority date from the 1930s to more recent years. What is perhaps surprising is that not only Belfast and Antrim monumental sculptors were employed (such as Kirkwoods) but also some from Broughshane and Castledawson.
Carmavy is mostly of interest to the family historian. Apart from the families already mentioned, others whilst not universally known were nonetheless distinguished in their own field. One could pick out the Robb Family in this category. Three faces of a large obelisk refer to no less than 19 individual members of the Robbs and the McHarrys who married into the family. The information is detailed, giving dates of death, ages, and relationships and providing a wonderful platform from which one could carry out further research using other sources such as civil records and obituaries.
One of the Robb family was a J.P., whilst a McHarry son-in-law and grandson were respectively distinguished physician and surgeon. They were the McHarry’s. When Hugh McHarry died in Belfast in 1897, the intimation in the Belfast Newsletter indicated the funeral was strictly private. Few, therefore, would have known that he was buried in Carmavy. One inscription is to the memory of Mary, wife of William Robb but says she was buried in Drumbeg churchyard. This could be a useful pointer perhaps to Mary’s own origins.
Distinguished too, but sadly in a different way, is David James (Jimmy) Millar, who died as the result of an accident in the Manx Grand Prix, Isle of Man on 30 August 1984. The exact date of death is the key to finding out more from a newspaper obituary and report of the accident. Jimmy Millar was a Templepatrick garage owner, known locally as a club racer, President of the Ulster 80cc Road Racing Association and survived by his wife and two daughters.
James Suffern (1770-1854) is noted as an elder in Killead and Dundrod Presbyterian Church and as the first man to call a meeting to take into consideration the erection of Dundrod Presbyterian Church.
Infant mortality is obvious in many of the inscriptions. Many of the children who died in the nineteenth century were not named individually, noted only as children who died in infancy. This, of course, is a phenomenon found not only in Carmavy, but in every graveyard in the country.