Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2018

Armistice Centenary

The eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 has been commemorated this week on its hundredth anniversary. This week's post takes a look at some of the most notable burials in our collection from the First World War.

Silvertown Explosion 1917 (West Ham Cemetery, London E7)
One of the worst non-military disasters of the First World War took place near the cemetery in Silvertown, East London. On 19 January 1917, the largest explosion ever to occur in the UK ripped through the former Brunner Mond factory in Silvertown. It had been turned over to munitions production near the beginning of the war, and now manufactured highly unstable TNT. The blast was heard as far away as Southampton and Norwich. A devastating firestorm spread beyond the factory into neighbouring streets, destroying or damaging more than 900 homes.
The human cost was high, with over 70 deaths. 390 people were injured. Several of the 73 victims of the Silvertown disaster, including firemen Sub-Officer Henry Vickers an…

Hallowe'en 2018: Remembering the Souls of Our Ancestors

Now the clocks have gone back and our evenings are darker earlier, the mood is set for Hallowe'en, which falls today on 31 October 2018
For the past few weeks, my local supermarket has been filled with ghoulish chocolates and plastic orange buckets, the nearby bakery has almond macaroon monster fingers, and tonight the streets will be filled with children (and adults) in spooky costumes. But behind the commercialisations and pranks, lies a serious tradition dating back centuries. Hallowe'en - or All Hallows' Even(ing) - held great meaning for many of our ancestors. Different regions had unique ways of counting the hours until the Christian feast of All Saints' Day (All Hallows or Hallowmas) on the 1st November.

The origins of the festival appear to be non-Christian, coming from the ancient Celtic night of Samhain. In common with other autumn festivals, Samhain celebrated the harvest and marked the beginning of the dark half of the year by lighting fires. The Celts belie…

Highgate Cemetery News

Modern burial ideas are drawing on experiences of the past

On 16 October 2018, the Chief Executive of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery's Dr Ian Dungavell was interviewed on BBC Radio London's Vanessa Feltz programme to discuss ideas to create more burial space. The programme discussed how to find room for future generations of Londoners while maintaining all that is special about the cemetery.

Surprisingly, this is not a new concept. Before the 19th century, particularly during the medieval period, social norms allowed for old graves to be exhumed in order that space would be freed for new burials. The remains were transferred to charnel houses (bone stores). Examples of these can be found across the country, such as in Spitalfields, London

The news was also reported in The Telegraph with a warning that there will be no space for full-sized graves (and thus coffin burials) by 2024. Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust have completed a consultation on plans to reclaim empty plots…

International Day of Peace

This week's blog marks the International Day of Peace 2018 by remembering  WWI conscientious objector, Alfred Myers (1883-1948)

The United Nations International Day of Peace takes place each year on 21 September to celebrate a peaceful society is one where there is justice and equality for everyone. The theme for 2018 is: “The Right to Peace - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70”, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.

Deceased Online is marking the day by honouring one peacemaker that we have discovered in the database - Alfred Myers (1883-1948), a miner and conscientious objector.

Alfred is buried in Brotton Cemetery, North Yorkshire, not far to where he was born and raised. He risked his life for peace and has been remembered in a 1995 documentary film, The Richmond Sixteen.


Sarah Chapman Grave Petition

Manor Park Cemetery E7 in contains the graves of many revered East Londoners. Sarah Chapman, the former Matchgirls Strike Leader, lies buried there and her grave has recently become the subject of an online petition.
petition has been started online calling for Manor Park Cemetery to, "SAVE SARAH CHAPMAN'S GRAVE FOR POSTERITY".
The petition explains that SARAH Dearman (née CHAPMAN; 31 Oct 1862-27 Nov 1945) was a leading member of the Matchgirls 1888 Strike Committee, Matchmakers' Union, as well as being a TUC Delegate
Although Sarah was one of the first working-class women to represent her Union at the Trades Union Congress and a major contributor to working women's rights, she is buried in a pauper's grave in Manor Park Cemetery in the London borough of Newham. Her great granddaughter found the grave in early 2017, but it currently has no marker or headstone.

The details of Sarah's grave can be found in the Deceased Online database on the bottom entry of t…

Oxford Cemetery Records

Exciting news this week from Deceased Online as almost 50,000 records from the Oxford cemeteries, Botley, Rose Hill and Wolvercote, are uploaded to the database 
Deceased Online is delighted to announce that almost 50,000 records from Botley, Rose Hill, and Wolvercote cemeteries in Oxford, from 1894 to 2016, are now available to search Records for the fourth Oxford City Council cemetery, Headington Cemetery, have been digitised and will be released at a future date.

Botley Cemetery is situated inNorth Hinksey Lane, Botley, Oxford OX2 0LX.

The city of Oxford is celebrated across the world for its universities, academic innovation, and medieval architecture. On television, it is the home of fictional detectives Morse, Lewis, and Hathaway. Its situation in the beautiful county of Oxfordshire, on the banks of the Thames, and close to magnificent Blenheim Palace, all contribute to its reputation as a popular tourist destination for visitors from across the UK and ove…

Burial Grounds versus Public Parks

Today's taphophiles and family historians often enjoy the calm and greenery of urban cemeteries. But would today's cemetery users want to return to a Victorian policy that sought to convert burial grounds into public parks?
In the 1860s, the graves of the ancient parish churchyard of St Pancras were cleared. Among those who helped clear and relocate burials from the old St Pancras Church graveyard to the new St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, was a young Thomas Hardy (1840-1928).  A famous tree still stands in the old graveyard which bears his name. Some of the church lands was taken by the Midland Railway. During this period, around 8,000 bodies were exhumed from their burial plots and some were relocated to the new cemetery in Finchley. Some headstones, like that of the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1759-1797) were left standing and can still be seen in the churchyard today. Wollstonecraft's body has since been relocated to Bournemouth in Dorset. 

After the …

Norfolk Cemeteries iii

This week, I highlight more of the collections at the recently uploaded images of Norfolk cemeteriestaken by Norfolk resident, Louise Cocker. 

Deceased Online's latest addition to the database is a little different from some of the other collections - and well worthing checking out.

The above photograph is from St Ethlebert Churchyard in Alby, Norfolk. The transcription (which you can find on the Deceased Online database) reads:
In the Memory of Agnes Elizabeth Semira who  Died November 2 1895 aged 7 Years also of Ethel Maud who  Died September 24th 1902 aged (Illegible) Years  the Beloved Daughters of Arthur and Mary Blyth (Illegible) 

Monumental inscriptions (MIs) like this can provide useful clues for family history research. They can help identify children who were born and died between censuses. And they can confirm a death date for an individual.
Researchers can then follow up on what they find in the database by identifying the relevant death registration entry in the General Reg…