Derbyshire Burials

A guide to using church burial and civil cemetery registers and to finding the location of a grave.

Image: All Saints Church, Brailsford, c1930s (Ref: DCHQ002850)

Note: Before civil registration was introduced in 1837, burial registers are the main source available to identify when a person died, as burials would have taken place within a few days of death.

Churchyard Burials

The earliest burial registers date from the mid-16th century and relate to burials in Anglican churchyards.  The majority of non-Anglican burial records for Derbyshire begin in the 19th century, with a small number from the 18th century and Quaker burials from the mid-17th century.

Information about the registers available for each parish and non-conformist church can be found in our Parish Register Guide and Non-Conformist Guide. You can also search the online catalogue – search for the church in the ‘Title’ field (e.g. Bolsover parish or Methodist Long Eaton) for a list of all the records for each church, or use the ‘D’ reference number given in the above Guides.

The amount of information recorded in the burial registers varies over time:

  • Before 1813, burial entries tend only to include the date of burial and name of the deceased; some may state whether they are a widow/widower and/or a reference to a family member, e.g. Sarah daughter of John Taylor.
  • After 1813, the registers often include the age at death, place of abode (usually just the area not a specific address) and the signature of the officiating minister.

It is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.  A small number of parishes have deposited plans of the churchyard that include information about some burials before a particular date (see below).

The burial registers for the Anglican parishes are available to search and browse via Ancestry up to 1991 – see our Parish Registers Online guide.  A number of burial registers for non-conformist churches are available to search on Find My Past – these are the registers for which the originals are held at The National Archives (TNA) and Derbyshire Record Office has copies on microfilm.

Civil Cemeteries

By the mid-19th century, parish churchyards were becoming full and there was a need to open civil cemeteries.  Following the Burial Acts of 1852 and 1853, the first civil cemeteries in Derbyshire opened in 1855.  Originally managed by Burial Boards, in 1894 responsibility for these cemeteries transferred to parish and district councils and this remains the case today. For more recent records, please contact the relevant .

The majority of the original records for cemeteries remain in the custody of the District Councils, however records up to the 1990s are available at the Record Office on microfilm and DVD.  See our Cemetery Records Guide for details of the records available.

If you can’t find an entry in the parish burial registers, or there aren’t any burial registers for the period you are interested in, check the civil cemetery records.

Unlike the church burial registers, the civil cemetery registers tend to include more information and are usually accompanied by an index and a grave register.  Although the grave registers do not include a layout plan of the graves, they do include plot numbers and give a rough indication of burial area, i.e. consecrated or unconsecrated ground.  This information can then be used to identify the location of the grave in the cemetery – you will usually need to contact the relevant district authority as well.

National Burial Index

The NBI contains over 18 million entries relating to burials in England and Wales between 1538 and 2008, including 125,000 entries from 54 Derbyshire locations. Published by Family History Federation (formerly Federation of Family History Societies), it is now in its 3rd Edition and over 12 million entries are available via Find My Past, giving details of burial place, year of death and religious denomination.

Memorial Inscriptions

For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church.  These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions (MIs), and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later.  The MIs do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible. All the MIs held by the Record Office are available in the Computer Room, arranged alphabetically by place.

Finding the Grave

As civil cemetery registers tend to include a grave reference it is usually possible to identify the location of the grave itself, although sometimes you may need to contact the district or borough council responsible for the cemetery for guidance about how to interpret the reference.

It is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first place.  However, a small number of parishes have deposited plans of the churchyard that include information about some burials before a particular date:

Parish/ChurchDescriptionReference
AldercarSchedule of identifiable gravesD2574/19/2
AshoverGrave registers,1779-1828, 1846-1859D253 A/PI 10/1-2
Ashbourne St OswaldsNotes on graves (early 20th century)D662 A/PI 26/7
BrimingtonSchedule of graves, 1956D626/A/PD/6/1
CalowGrave Registers, 1862-1899D1642/A/PI/63-4
Chesterfield, St Mary and All SaintsSchedules of gravesD643/A/PI/28-29
Chesterfield, Elder Yard ChapelChurchyard plan, 1915

 

 

D6414/6/2/2
Chesterfield, Holy TrinityGrave register, 1856-1864D935/A/PI/108
DenbyGrave plan, 1902D935/A/PI/181
Derby St AlkmundsClerk’s rough note book of burials 1853-1864D916/A/PI/6/7
DerwentBurial and grave registers, 1908-1927D2036/A/PI/5/1-3
DoveridgeChurchyard register and plan, 1890-1955D1197/A/PI/18
EckingtonRegister of purchased gravesD750/A/PI/5/4
EdensorPartial grave plan, c1850D1192/A/PI/223
HayfieldGraveyard plan and book of reference, 1849D2462/A/PI/12/1-2
HorsleyGraveyard plan and list of graves, 18th cent-1920’sD2467/A/PI/10
Ilkeston St MarysList of burials, 19th-20th cent; Reinternment file, 1992D3082/A/PI/41, 46
IronvilleBurial register includes some plot detailsD3088/A/PI/4/1-5
Kirk HallamCemetery planD1537/A/PI/8/1
MappletonDescription of tombs and gravestones and inscriptions, 1911D845/A/PI/12
NethersealList of gravesD809/A/PI/32
Old BramptonBurials waste book, 1792-1887D947/A/PI/288
OversealPlan showing graves to be disturbed, 1951D812/A/PC/2/1-2
ShottleDraft graveyard plan and list of graves, 1973D964/A/PD/7/1-2
SomercotesGrave register and planD2006/A/PI/5/1-6
StaveleyFile concerning removal of gravesD661/A/PI/143
StonegravelsProposed gravestones, 1945-1950D2083/9/1
Stoney MiddletonGrave register and partial draft plan, 1879-1941D1455/A/PI/100-1
SwadlincoteMemorial Inscriptions, 1847-1931D653/A/PI/18/2
WhittingtonGrave register, 1879-c1914D2528/A/PI/19/1-2
WirksworthGrave plans, 1952D3105/A/PZ/2/6n
WormhillGrave plan and indexD1372/A/PI/145-8

It may also be worth contacting the church directly as a small number do also hold their own records about location of graves in their churchyards.

Edited 19 Jun 2020 to include details about the National Burial Index

Digging up information about Burial Locations

Some of the diverse subjects that have been researched in the Local Studies card catalogue this week include air wrecks, monetary equivalents, the surname ‘Lomas’ and Florence Nightingale.

Cards

Florence

 

In particular though, this week, burial locations have been a frequent feature of research requests, so we thought this subject was well past its expiration date (if you’ll forgive the pun) for a mention.

In many cultures, the idea of being able to visit the physical location of a place of rest is reassuring for friends and relatives. Here’s how to make a start on searching.

Burial Registers

Burial Registers (found in parish registers) record information relating to the date of burial and the person buried rather than the location of the grave. Unlike civil cemeteries, it is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.

Memorial Inscriptions

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For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church. These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions, and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later. The Memorial Inscriptions do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible.

They do also sometimes contain a very useful background to the cemetery or churchyard, and in particular these are a regular feature of the The Derbyshire Ancestral Research Group  transcripts. There may also be a graveyard plan.

Cemetery Records

Cemetery 5Cemetery 2

Cemetery Records can be tricky and a little time consuming to search as the indexes, although alphabetical, are not usually alphabetical after the initial letter.  For example, as shown above, under the ‘Hs’ you are very likely to find ‘Hewitt’ after ‘Hill.’ If the name you require is found in the Index, there will usually be a reference (normally a number and folio reference).  You then need to make a note of this in order to then search the Burial and/or Grave Register to find more details about the location. As with all records, the information provided varies from Cemetery to Cemetery.

Online Catalogue

Of course it is always worth searching our online catalogue for any information regarding graveyard plans or burials as you never know what you might unearth!

On This Day: ‘District News’

From the Derby Mercury, 12th October 1881:

DISTRICT NEWS

CHESTERFIELD

Chesterfield was on Saturday night, for the first time, illuminated by the electric light.  The experimental operations proved very successful; and as the Corporation are hopelessly in conflict with the local gas company, it is probable that the electric light will be a permanent institution in Chesterfield.

ALFRETON

SINGULAR DEATH – John Shaw, the landlord of the New Inn, Greenhill lane, Alfreton, some three weeks ago was attempting to catch a wasp which was in the window of his house, when he stumbled and cut his wrist on a broken pane of glass.  He bled very much at the time, and from blood poisoning and the shock to his system he died on Wednesday.  It is not deemed necessary to hold an inquest.

The County Local Studies Library holds the Derby Mercury – just ring to book a microfilm reader.  If you have a Derbyshire library card you can also view 19th century issues of the newspaper online.