Lifting of the Body

Found February 1883, on the beach at Trondra, Shetland Islands.

In a bottle, on a torn piece of paper:

This bottle was thrown into the water at Stirling, in the river Forth, on the 15th July 1882, by one of the men who were concerned in the lifting of the body of the Earl of Crawford. The body is now, I think, rotted into clay. We lifted it with the intention of selling it, but it was published so soon that we buried it to get it out of the way.

Further text appeared to have been torn off before the message was placed into the bottle. Alexander William Crawford Lindsay was the 25th Earl of Crawford. He died in Florence, Italy, in 1880 and his body was returned to be buried in a private chapel at his family home at Dunecht House, near Aberdeen. In December 1881, it was discovered that the body had been stolen – apparently some months beforehand. It was eventually found in July 1882, buried in a shallow grave, by a rat-catcher named Charles Soutar. Although Soutar denied any involvement, and was not considered capable of having carried out the crime alone, he was charged with grave-robbing and sentenced to five years in prison.

[Dundee Evening Telegraph, 12 February 1883]

Get the Messages from the Sea book

2 thoughts on “Lifting of the Body”

  1. Odd coincidence–I’m writing about the Crawford grave-robbing on my blog next Monday. I’ll include your post as a footnote, if you don’t mind!

Leave a Comment