Skip to main content

Nunhead Cemetery

Today Deceased Online launches the burial records for the Magnificent Cemetery of Nunhead in South London. Below I explore the history of the cemetery and highlight some of the notable burials in this new collection.
Nunhead is one of London's Magnificent Seven Cemeteries that were laid out around the edge of the capital in the mid-19th century. Located in the populous London Borough of Southwark SE15, in the words of the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery (FONC), Nunhead is "the most attractive of the seven".

As early as 1878, the writer and genealogist Edward Walford (1823-1897) was celebrating the beauty of the site as follows:

Nunhead Cemetery, covering an area of about fifty acres, occupies the summit of some rising ground, whence a good view is obtained of the surrounding neighbourhood. The cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester in 1840, and is beautifully laid out with gravel walks, and thickly planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers. The chapels in the grounds are conspicuous objects for miles round.


Nunhead lies to the north east of Peckham Rye and is the lasting resting place of much of the Victorian population of Peckham, Camberwell and Southwark. The cemetery was consecrated in 1840, eight years after the first of the Magnificent Seven, Kensal Green. Today, a large part of the cemetery is designated as a nature reserve.

Amidst this beautiful setting lie the bodies of thousands of South London's poor. Unlike those who lie beneath gothic stone monuments, many of the working classes were laid to rest in common graves. With this new release, family historians can now search nearly 300,000 burials in over 45,000 graves of both the rich and the poor from this cemetery on the Deceased Online database. The website also includes maps showing the section or square in the cemetery where a specific grave is located. However, do be aware that it can be difficult to search for graves in the overgrown, and consequently inaccessible, nature reserve area.
The 1863 burial register entry for Edward John Eliot
In this month of the Waterloo Bicentenary, it seems appropriate to highlight the burial of Peninsular War soldier, Edward John Eliot (1782-1863). Although he retired in 1814, a year before the Battle of Waterloo, Eliot had served as an Army Officer since the age of 15 and fought against Napoleon. It is argued that the Pensinsular War of 1808-1814 played a major role in the French Emperor's downfall. Among the Peninsular battles in which Eliot fought were the Battle of Vimiero, Batlle of Talavera, Battle of Bussaco, Defence of the Lines of Torres Vedras, and the Battle of Badajoz.

Originally from Shenstone in Staffordshire, Eliot survived military life and lived on to the grand age of 80. After leaving the Army, Eliot settled in Peckham, working for HM Customs as a landing waiter. Eliot died in Peckham on the 6th November 1863. His entry in the burial register shows that he was buried in a Consecrated Grave number 28, in square 103. His was a private grave of 11 feet deep, shared with his wife, Margaret (bur. 15 Sep 1881) and baby son, John Percival (bur. 1841).

Other notable individuals buried at Nunhead are:
  • Charles Abbott (bur. Oct 1840) Grocer, who died aged 101; his was the first burial at the cemetery
  • Sir Frederick Augustus Abel (1827-1902) Inventor of Cordite
  • George John Bennett (1800-1879) Shakespearean Actor
  • Jenny Hill (1848-1896) Music Hall Artiste
  • Thomas Tilling (1825-1893) Bus Tycoon
  • Alfred Vance/ Alfred Peek Stevens (1839-1888) Music Hall Artiste
The Scottish Political Martys Memorial
There are also monuments for those who died on the opposite side of the world. Close to Nunhead's North Gate stands an obelisk known as the Scottish Political Martys Memorial. This was erected by the Radical MP Joseph Hume in 1837 in honour of the leaders of the socially reforming Friends of the People Society (the "Scottish Martyrs"). The Martyrs, including Thomas Muir and the Rev. Thomas Fyshe Palmer, were transported to Australia for crimes of High Treason.

With the addition of this latest collection, the Deceased Online database now holds records for three of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries:
  • Kensal Green (1832)
  • Nunhead (1840)
  • Brompton (1840).
Records for some of the remaining four will be launched in the near future. Please keep following our blog and social media pages for updates. 

We want to hear from you about your Nunhead discoveries. How many ancestors do you have buried there? Please let us know via the Comments Box below and on our Twitter and Facebook pages!

Sources
Edward Walford, 'Peckham and Dulwich', in Old and New London: Volume 6 (London, 1878), pp. 286-303 http://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol6/pp286-303 [accessed 23 June 2015].

 

Comments

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for getting back to me with regard to the burial plot of my great great grandparents Edward and Jemima LEE. The photos you sent were a bonus too even though it looks like the plot is in amongst the wilderness. Edward was a cornmeter descending from a long line of lightermen living near the Thames in the parsih of St John Horsleydown. There are 5 in the plot including a baby, an uncle of Jemima's, George WILLiAMS, and I think his wife Mary (still working on that). George was also a cornmeter and somehow came into a lot of money which became the inheritance for Edward and Jemima's three sons to emigrate to Australia which is where I am. George gave quite a bit of money away to the Baptist Missionary Society-according to his will. It is wonderful to be able to find out the final resting place of my forebears so I thank FONC very much. Regards, Margaret Coghlan, Melbourne, Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We are delighted to have been able to help.
      Your ancestors sound fascinating. Lightermen are very interesting to research!
      Emma

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

London's Spa Fields

Deceased Online has just uploaded around 114,000 burial records from Spa Fields in the modern London borough of Islington Spa Fields today, with the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer in the background Spa Fields Burial Ground became notorious in the 19th century for its overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Located in the parish of St James, Clerkenwell, the grave yard was not far from the ever-increasing City of London. Spa Fields was known also as Clerkenwell Fields and Ducking-pond Fields in the late 18th century, hinting at a dark side to what was then a summer evening resort for north Londoners. What would become a cemetery was a ducking pond in the rural grounds of a Spa Fields public house. It was here in 1683 that six children were drowned while playing on the ice. In his History of Clerkenwell (1865) William J. Pinks wrote that visitors, "came hither to witness the rude sports that were in vogue a century ago, such as duck-hunting, prize-fighting, bull-baiting

Nottingham Collection

This week, Deceased Online expands its Nottingham Collection with the addition of records from the early Victorian cemetery, Nottingham General. Enter Nottingham's General Cemetery from Canning Terrace and be prepared to step back in time to the late 19th century. Like many of the Victorian cemeteries in the Deceased Online collections, Nottingham General was designed to take the burden from parish churches whose graveyards had become overcrowded. Also, like many other Victorian cemeteries, this was administered by a newly-formed body, the Nottingham General Cemetery Company (1836) . The Grade II listed gatehouse , the chapel and the adjacent almshouses were built between 1836 and 1838 by S. S. Rawlinson . Burial registers were kept from the opening date of cemetery in 1838. Concerns were raised in the 1920s that this municipal cemetery was now overcrowded and from 1929 the cemetery was closed to new burials other than those who owned burial rights. Headstones in

Wakefield Collection: Cremation Records now available on Deceased Online

Records for both crematoria in Wakefield, Yorkshire have been added to the Deceased Online database Above: Pontefract Crematorium The two sets of crematoria records have been added to Deceased Online 's Wakefield Collection .  Wakefield district contains nineteen cemeteries and two crematoria. Many of the records go back to the mid and late 19th century when the cemeteries opened, and range across a wide geographical area. The full list of  Wakefield  cemeteries live on Deceased Online,  with opening dates in brackets,   is as follows: 1.  Altofts Cemetery  – Church Road, Altofts, Normanton  (1878)   2.  Alverthorpe Cemetery  – St Paul’s Drive, Alverthorpe, Wakefield  (registers from 1955) 3. Castleford Cemetery  – Headfield Road, Castleford  (1857) 4.  Crigglestone Cemetery  – Standbridge Lane, Crigglestone, Wakefield  (1882) 5. Featherstone Cemetery  – Cutsyke Road, North Featherstone  (1874) 6. Ferrybridge Cemetery  – Pontefract Road, Ferrybridge, P