In this weeks A-Z of English Genealogy it is the turn of the letter B, which in this case stands for burial record. I don’t think there is anything uniquely English about the burial process, although I am sure there have been (and probably still are) some local and regional customs and practices. In this post I wanted to take the opportunity to focus on burial records and in particular where they can be found.
Original burial registers will either be found at the county record office or still with the body responsible whether it is the parish church or some other burial authority. However many of the original registers have been microfilmed or in some cases digitised by the LDS (so check your local Family History Centre). Many of the registers have also been indexed or transcribed, mainly by local family history societies.
Apart from contacting the family history society (or visiting their website) in question, another other good place to find out what is available is the Parish Chest website, although it may not include all available indexes and transcriptions, it does allow online ordering which may not be offered by the individual family history societies.
Whilst many parish register transcriptions and indexes have been published separately, there are still a lot that haven’t. Fortunately a lot of these have been published by the Federation of Family History Societies in the form of the National Burial Index. This index contains nearly 18.5 million entries from throughout England (and Wales), exact coverage details can be found on the FFHS website, where you can drill down through the counties to find the coverage details for each parish.
Coverage does vary from county to county, but with nearly 18.5 million records the overall coverage is pretty good. It is only an index though, guiding you to parish registers you need to be checking for more details. It can be ordered through the FFHS website (check the system requirements first because the CD won’t run on Apple Macs), but these days you might also check your local library for a copy.
The main online data providers (Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk) have some burial records, so do The Genealogist, Familyrelatives.com and BMD Registers (also available through the The Genealogist). Deceased Online however is a website dedicated solely to burial and cremation records.
Deceased Online was launched in July 2008 and describes itself as “the first central database of statutory burial and cremation registers for the UK and Republic of Ireland”. What really sets Deceased Online apart from the other indexes and transcriptions is that it focuses on cemetery record, whereas the other mainly focus on burial in the parish churchyard.
So far coverage is limited, but expect to see more records added over the coming months, and those records come in various different forms such as digitised registers, maps of the grave location, photos of the grave location and computer based entries.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at burial records, please feel free to let me know in the comments your favourite places (on or offline) for locating English burial records and any other places I have forgotten to mention.