CASEY, EDWARD (Ned)

d 1890 from Unknown


mariner, missing person. There are a few individuals whose names are well known in Falklands lore simply due to the fate that befell them, rather than because of anything achieved during their lifetimes. One such is Ned Casey, about whom virtually nothing is known, other than that he disappeared in Camp and that his remains were not discovered until twenty three years later.

In the Falkland Islands Magazine of October 1890 the following report appeared:

Ned Casey, late of the 'Foam', crossed from Saunders Island to the West Falklands at night for the doctor several weeks ago. He has never been seen since. The boat was found drawn up above high water mark. It is supposed that he must have fallen over the cliffs in the darkness.

There were no further developments in the story until December 1913, when the manager of Hill Cove, Sydney Miller senior, wrote to the colonial secretary, John Quayle DICKSON as follows:

Sir,
When the shepherds were gathering the Mountains on this Station last Sunday November 30th one of the men found a skeleton of a man, all he could see was part of a pair of boots, part of one legging and an old sheath knife. It is supposed to be the remains of a man named 'Casey' lost about 24 years ago, who was working on Saunders Island and came over to the Main Island. Your Chief Constable [William Atkins] could give you full details of the case, as he was then living at Shallow Bay and helped form a search party for the body.
I am, Sir, etc.

A full report appeared in the Falkland Islands Magazine and Church Paper for January 1914 under the headline 'Grim Discovery at Hill Cove':

On Nov 30th, after 23 years, the remains of the late Ned (or Edward) Casey have been found near Hill Cove. Far away on the highest peak standing on the West Side of Darry Valley, the mountains have at last given up their grim secret. It chanced that Mr. E. Johnson was out gathering sheep in this part, when he found the remains. Apparently the ill-fated man, hungry and footsore, and thoroughly tired out, had at last given up hope and so lay down to sleep his last sleep in this out of the way place, miles from any help or assistance. This theory seems to have been borne out from the position of the remains, which were found lying face downwards, the arms folded underneath. All that remained of the clothing was a piece of Cardigan jacket and some of the trousers: the boots and leggings were also there, but the elements had caused all the stitching to rot away. By his side lay a sheath knife, bearing the initials of Donald McInnes (late of Roy Cove). The brief history of the tragedy is as follows: - About the end of June 1890, Ned Casey was sent across Reef Channel from Saunders Island in a dinghy to summon the doctor for a man who was taken ill on the Island. The Schooner 'Hornet' was at the time lying wind-bound in the Channel and on his way across he boarded her: this was the last occasion on which he was seen alive. He landed at Shallow Bay late in the afternoon and a dense fog came on. Even though the distance from the water to the house is only 20 minutes walk, yet he lost his way, and we can only imagine what his feelings must have been as he walked aimlessly mile after mile until he reached that lonely spot where his body was found. Some days later another man was sent from Saunders to hurry the Doctor, and then it was discovered that Casey had not been seen or heard of. The dinghy was found hauled up on the beach with the unfortunate man's coat rolled up in her, which proved he had little with him to afford warmth or protection. Mr Miller kindly lent horses and men and together with a party from Saunders Island a thorough search was made in all directions for over a week, till at length all hope was abandoned of his ever being found. And so at length, after 23 long years, the terrible tragedy has come to light.

The report is signed JF Summers (John Falkland Summers, who was the Cathedral sexton for many years, thus well-placed to write for the Church Magazine).

Nothing more is known about Ned Casey. His name does not feature in any of the official registers and although there are records of one or two other individuals named Casey, there is no evidence to connect them with Ned. He appears to have had no family or established home in the Falklands. His story exemplifies two aspects of local history. Like Ned, there were many who lost their way in Camp. The lack of roads, or even clear tracks or easily distinguished landmarks, the long distances between settlements, the unpredictable weather, made travelling hazardous for anyone unfamiliar with the terrain. Some were found after extended periods of wandering, some like Ned died before they reached help, only for their remains to be discovered later and a few simply vanished without further trace. Ned Casey also typifies another aspect of Falklands history: the numbers of tough, enterprising, adventurous men, usually mariners, who found themselves far from home in the unforgiving surroundings of the South Atlantic. They made lives for themselves here. Some like poor Ned Casey lost the battle with the environment. Many, however, survived and flourished, established homes and families and are the ancestors of numerous Islanders today.

Authors

Jane Cameron