Maria Higgins, the woman who was buried twice3 min read
Glasnevin Cemetery, in Irish Reilig Ghlas Naíon, is a large cemetery in Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland which opened in 1832.
It has its famous occupants, including Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins, author Christy Brown and Dubliners star Luke Kelly.
But it is also the final resting place for many ordinary citizens who led interesting lives and deaths.
This is the case of Maria Higgins, a completely ordinary person with a completely normal life.
Except for the fact that she managed to die twice.
According to her husband, Charles Higgins, Maria died aged 54 after a short illness. Following a two-day wake with a closed coffin with a plate affixed to it describing her name, age and date of death, Maria was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery on July 31, 1858.
She had a big funeral with hearse and mourning coaches, while he husband wore crape on his hat, and mourned in an exemplary manner in all aspects.
That’s the end of the story, until, three years later, Maria Higgins walked into a solicitor’s office on Nassau Street. It was certainly her, alright.
Her coffin was then exhumed and its contents were found to be nothing more than soil and stones.
It turned out Maria had been persuaded by her husband to fake her own death, was living in a basement for all this time and, eventually she got tired of such life and decided to admit the truth.
The reason for all of this was £500 that Maria had been left in a will.
The money would only be released after her death for the benefit of her children, if she had any, or to the beneficiary of her will. This was a small fortune back then, and apparently Charles Higgins wasn`t ready to wait for his wife to die for real, because she was 54 at this stage.
Instead, he bribed a local doctor with £10 and a bottle of whiskey to confirm Maria`s death and then arranged a funeral.
After Maria admitted the crime, all involved were charged with fraud.
She managed to avoid prison time because she supposedly acted under the influence of her husband, but Charles and his conspirators were found guilty and sentenced to prison.
In any case, Maria Higgins died “for the second time” on July 24, 1871, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, close to where her first funeral had taken place….
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