What was intended as a regal send-off for a Dundee man in 1895, descended into a macabre farce.
The deceased was wrestled from his coffin by undertakers in a row over his ability to meet funeral costs.
When the unnamed man died in the north of the city his wife ordered an elaborate polished oak coffin with brass mountings.
However, as soon as the coffin was delivered, the undertaker, noting the humble one-roomed dwelling, began to doubt the family’s ability to pay.
Nevertheless, the body was put in the coffin but the undertaker demanded proof of payment.
He was given an address in Ireland from where the funds were supposed to come. This didn’t check out and he stormed back to the house to retrieve his coffin. Out went the dead man and the plush casket was loaded on to the undertaker’s cart and driven off.
Next day, the day of the funeral, the undertaker sent a hearse to the deceased’s home and loaded him into a coffin of the plainest kind.
A coach was also provided for mourners but not a single one showed up and it was driven away empty.
Around 30 years later there was a coffin shock for a family in Lochee Road, Dundee.
They gathered in their home to receive the remains of their matriarch, who had died in the Eastern Hospital. When the coffin was opened, the face of an entirely different woman stared out.
It came as a “painful shock to the deceased’s relatives” this newspaper reported.
Within half an hour, the family was reunited with the deceased relative.
That shock was nothing to compare with the experience of a widow Keillor whose brother, Peter Fyffe, died suddenly in Bell Street in 1865.
She applied to the inspector of the poor for funeral assistance and a coffin was sent to the house.
It was too small but the civil servants tried to squeeze the dead man in. To the sound of cracking bones, the coffin eventually collapsed. They returned with a larger one, clearly second hand because it was covered in blood.
The case caused outrage in Dundee and made newspaper headlines around Britain.