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London Burials and Deaths in the 1800's

Most churchyards in London had their own churchyards for burials, but it became quite clear in the mid-1800s when a public outcry ensued over the health risk associated with the over-crowded church yards that something had to be done. Hence when looking for burials from mid 1800's onwards it is not to church register you should look, but to commercial cemeteries built around the Metropolis.


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There is a distinct difference between burial records and death certificates. Death certificate start from 1837 and give place of death, cause of death, and the informant of the death. These have to be searched by indexes and the certificate paid for in advance and ordered. A good place to start here is to go to the official government web site for all the information you need:

Burial records are more for ascertaining where the gravestone is and in which cemetery/grave yard. In the 1800's, cemeteries took over in London from actual graveyards because they were overcrowded. Below is a list of the main cemeteries in London and how to access them.

Kensal Green. From 1833 when the first Cemetery in London was consecrated, Kensal Green, was the first in a flurry of another six cemeteries to follow in the next five years. Kensal Green mainly catered for the deceased of West London. It is possible to have grave searches done for a fee.

Abney Park. Built in 1840, Abney Park was a cemetery for non-conformists, or "dissenters." This is only one of two cemeteries that primarily catered for the non-conformist ( e.g, not Church of England ). So if you know you ancestor was a Wesleyan, Baptist, Quaker or such, then they may have been buried here.

Bunhill Fields. Another non-conformist cemetery, Bunhill Fields, was never properly consecrated; hence, it became popular for non-conformist burial. This cemetery, however, was opened much earlier than those previously mentioned. Approximately 120.000 burials took place here. It was closed in 1855.

Highgate Cemetary. Most burials for people of North London were at Highgate Cemetery. It continues to this day as a burial ground. Grave searches can be carried out for a small fee.

Brompton. Built in 1840, Brompton was known as the West of London and Westminster cemetery. An interesting note: Long Wolf, the Sioux Indian Chief died in 1892 of Pneumonia and was buried here, whilst touring with Buffalo Bills Wild West Show. His remains were finally laid to rest back in Pine Ridge South Dakota in 1997.

Tower Hamlets. Built in 1841, Tower Hamlets was called the City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery, providing both consecrated and unconsecrated ground, for Church of England and non-conformists. Deceased from the East End of London and also the poorer section of deceased tended to be buried here--a total of approximatley 247,000 graves. The records for Tower Hamlets are at the Metropolitan Archives (, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1ROHB. The Archive will do a search for a fee.

West Norwood. Built 1837, for West Norwood, the contact the following archives to find out where the grave records are kept: Being in the south of London, West Norwood catered for people south of the River Thames.

Nunhead. Built 1840, Nunhead grave search queries you must write to Southwark Council, and there is a small fee for the search. This cemetery also covered south London districts.

The Superintendent of Cemeteries
Camberwell New Cemetery
Brenchley Gardens, London, SE233RB,UK

Apart from the above cemeteries which were known as the Magnificent Seven, the Brookwood Park Cemetery opened in 1854 was the largest in the world. The London Necropolis or Woking cemetery over 2000 acres in all. For Anglicans and non conformists.240,000 burials. For the City of London Cemetary,1856, see the following web site:

Useful addresses:

Kensal Green Cemetery
The Secretary, General Cemetery Company
Harrow Road, London, W10 4RA UK

Highgate Cemetery
Swains Lane
Highgate, London, N66PJ UK

The Royal Parks, Chapel Office
Brompton Cemetery
Fulham Road, London, Sw10 9UG UK

West Norwood Cemetery
Norwood Road, SE279JU UK

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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