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Stage and TV actor makes family history breakthroughs thanks to Deceased Online

This week, I am delighted to introduce a guest blog by actor, Paul Rider, who, when using the Deceased Online database to search for his great grandfather's burial record, chanced upon his great aunts' entries too.
Paul Rider is an actor well known for both Shakespearean stage roles (including at London's Globe Theatre) and to a wide range of radio and TV appearances including Doc Martin, Eastenders and French and Saunders. Although he now lives in South London, he hails from the West Midlands and has been fascinated by researching his family history.
He contacted us recently to tell us how, after three decades of searching, he made some great personal family history discoveries through the records on Here's Paul's story:

For some time I'd been researching my family and in particular looking for the grave of my great grandfather, Richard William Rider.

I’d examined birth, marriage and death registers when they only existed in physical form at the General Register Office (GRO) in St Catherine's House; census records that were only available on microfiche; 19th century wills; newspapers at the old Colindale Library and latterly letters found at the National Maritime Museum from a Royal Navy ancestor of mine and sent to Admiral Nelson.

I've had a 30 year long passion for researching my family history after a chance conversation at a hospital bedside in Coventry during the early 1980s. Having been brought up in the Midlands I was by then living in London and my Aunty Hilda on the other side of the hospital bed enquired, “Whereabouts in London are you living?"

When I told her I was living in Brockley she replied, "I'm sure that's where Dad (my Grandfather, Kenyth Rider) lived as a small boy. I remember we were passing through London and we found ourselves standing outside some large cemetery gates and Dad said, 'That’s where my family are'. . . I'm sure that was in Brockley."

It was that conversation that resulted in me eventually discovering that those cemetery gates belonged to Nunhead Cemetery and that I was living in a street just 100 metres from the house where my grandfather had grown up at the turn of the 20th century.

Earlier this year I said to my son, "Let’s go for a walk" and we ended up strolling into Camberwell Old Cemetery which is approximately 400 metres from my front door. As we walked along the paths chatting I began to wonder again as to where on earth my great grandfather, Richard William, might be buried.

Back in the 1980s I’d once knocked on the door of the gatekeepers lodge at Camberwell New Cemetery to discover he was safeguarding the records for all the other cemeteries in the area. With his help I’d found the grave of my great grandmother in Nunhead Cemetery but not her husband.

When we returned home I went on the internet and searched for any new information regarding the burial records of Southwark. I knew he had to be buried in the borough but where? Every other search had proved fruitless.

Camberwell Old Cemetery Register entry for Richard William Rider (on the top line) 
It was at this point that I was directed to and within minutes had discovered that he was buried in a common grave in the very cemetery we had left only minutes earlier. In addition to that information I also found the burial plot of two spinster great aunts, Adelina Sayes and Elizabeth Sayes, who lie together in a grave only metres from the entrance to the cemetery.
The gravestone of Paul's two great aunts

We immediately returned to the cemetery and first found the headstone of my great aunts with an inscription clear to the eye although now 130 years old. Armed with our map we then searched amongst the brambles for the grave of my great grandfather. Because he lay in a common grave we could find no headstone but thanks to the Deceased Online map we knew approximately where he was.

I’ve lived near the cemetery for 27 years and to think he’d been on my doorstep all the time was such a comforting feeling.

Thanks very much to Paul for sharing his story with us. We love hearing stories of discoveries in the Deceased Online database. We also love the coincidence that, unbeknown to him, Paul had been living near his ancestors' graves for 27 years. Many genealogists find themselves returning to an old family borough or county. Have you found any ancestors buried close to where you live? If so, please let us know via the Comments Box below or on our Twitter or Facebook pages.


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