Finlay, James (No. 3189)

Finlay, James (Jimmy)


No. 3189, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Sergeant (reverted to Private/Rifleman by FGCM)

No. 17617, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of disease on Sunday 19 January 1919 (aged 51)


Comber New Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 5. 74)       


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

First Comber Presbyterian Church


James Finlay was born on 14 January 1868 in Comber and he was a son of Francis (Frank) and Catherine Finlay (nee Dickson) who were married on 6 August 1859 in Newtownards Registrar’s Office.  Frank Finlay worked as an engine driver.

James Finlay served for more than 16 years with the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and saw active service in many parts of the world including India and South Africa.

In civilian life, James Finlay worked as a flax dresser and engine driver and on 22 November 1902 he and Eliza (Lizzie) Boyd (nee Mawhinney) were married in St. Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast.  James Finlay (aged 32) from 27 Ashworth Street, Belfast was a son of Francis Finlay, an engine driver.  Eliza Boyd (aged 34) was a widow from 10 Wilton Street, Belfast and she was a daughter of Kenneth Mawhinney, a farmer.  Lizzie Boyd (nee Mawhinney) from Island Hill, Comber had previously been married to William Boyd – a butcher from High Street, Comber and a son of David Boyd, a butcher.  They were married on 9 October 1891 in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church.  William Boyd died of tuberculosis on 5 September 1893.

Lizzie Finlay had two daughters from her previous marriage to William Boyd:

Agnes Jane (born 13 October 1891 in High Street, Comber)

Margaret Elizabeth (Lizzie, born 25 December 1893)

James and Lizzie Finlay (formerly Boyd, nee Mawhinney) had three children:

Francis (Frank, born 29 August 1903 in High Street, Comber)

Catherine (born 27 December 1905 in High Street, Comber; died of meningitis 14 March 1910 in High Street, Comber)

James (born 2 April 1908; died of diphtheria 31 March 1911 in Newtownards Workhouse Infirmary)

The Finlay family lived at 4 High Street, Comber and later at 4 Braeside, Comber.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, James (Jimmy) Finlay was an instructor for the Comber Companies of the Ulster Volunteer Force and, after the war began, he enlisted on 17 September 1914 and served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Battalion of the 36th (Ulster) Division.  He attained the rank of Sergeant but reverted to Private/Rifleman by Field General Court Martial (FGCM).  He was discharged on 29 December 1916 because of wounds sustained and was awarded the Silver War Badge (No. 104348).

Private James Finlay was 51 (49 on his death certificate) when he died in High Street, Comber on 19 January 1919 from apoplexy after shell shock during service.  He was suffering from the aftereffects of a shell explosion.

Private James Finlay was buried with military honours in Comber New Cemetery on 21 January 1919.  There was a firing party in attendance and buglers sounded The Last Post.

Private James Finlay is commemorated in First Comber Presbyterian Church.