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Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Burial Grounds for Non-Conformists

I have written about cemeteries as I have given details about non-conformist movements, the Quakers and the Jews, during the summer and fall. To summarize, all towns had a cemetery controlled and paid for by the Church of England (COE) with local taxes, and other denominations owned their own burial grounds. In the U.S., we would call all of these ‘private’ cemeteries and be baffled that the government paid for those owned by the COE. Are there any places in the UK that correspond to our ‘public’ cemeteries where anyone can be burial no matter what their faith or lack thereof? Yes!

Thanks to the September 2012 Norfolk Ancestor, I know that the first non-denominational cemetery in the UK was in Norwich, the seat of the county. The Norwich subgroup of the Norfolk Family History Society took a tour of it last June.
The Rosary Cemetery was originally a five acre market garden, and then it was purchased by Thomas Drummond, a retired Unitarian minister. The first burial took place in 1821, and it was not wildly popular. However, gradually more people began using it so that by 1900 about 18,000 burials had taken place. Later, an additional five acres plot was added. It is located on Rosary Road in the eastern area of the city, off Yarmouth Road. The cemetery was operated by a private board of trustees until 1954, when it was purchased by the city.  

A website to learn more about its history and burial customs generally is found at: www.heritagecity.org/research-centre/social-innovation/rosary-cemetery.htm. Topics of general interest include: body snatchers, water contamination and high death rate. In a section called ‘Restrictions on Dissenters,’ there is a nice summary of how difficult burials were for those not affiliated with the COE.
©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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