Is this a burial 'record'... ? Genealogical snippets from Family Tree's 'Dear Karen'


16 October 2019
Family Tree assistant editor Karen Clare shares genealogical gems, tragic tales and fantastic family history stories in her Dear Karen column. This time we're counting ancestors in a cemetery... So grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy the read...

Family Tree assistant editor Karen Clare loves sharing genealogical gems, tragic tales and fantastic family history stories in her regular Dear Karen column. Here she finds a reader who wonders if anyone can beat his record of ancestors buried in one cemetery... 

I must admit I had never thought about counting how many ancestors of mine are buried in one cemetery until, that is, keen genealogist Vic Grimes dropped me a line with a challenge for fellow readers. He says: ‘We all know us genealogists like checking out a cemetery. Well can anyone top this: I have around 28 ancestors buried at one cemetery. The cemetery is called Ripple Road cemetery in Barking, Essex. 

‘They range from Francis Gliddon Hearn, who is my 4th great-grandfather. He died 1907 aged 84 but there is no headstone to mark where it is. He is not the first of my ancestors buried there, that honour goes to my 3rd great-grandmother. She was Mary Hearn née Watson, buried there in 1899. The last one buried there is my great-uncle William J Turner, who passed away in 1995. He is buried with his son but is not marked on the headstone. They range from third great-uncle to 1st cousins 3x removed. I have 15 Hearns, four Turners, four Fairbrass and two Normans, etc.’

Can anyone count more than Vic’s 28 ancestors laid to rest in one cemetery or graveyard? Or perhaps you have lots of ancestors baptised or married in the same church? 

What the papers said

Speaking of marriages, our ancestors’ weddings are fascinating affairs to us family history addicts and newspaper reports of old can often give a colourful insights into the day’s happenings – and beyond.

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Regular contributor and newspaper-explorer extraordinaire Teresa Williams, from Middlesex, emailed in some more unusual stories found in the press from the past, including this marriage report about an extremely unlucky bride. The article appeared in The Chester Chronicle on 27 May 1803 and read: ‘Marriage: Married lately at Lancaster, Mr William Brown, shoemaker to Mrs Esther Sundell, both of that town. This is the Fifth time the blooming Bride has entered the happy state of matrimony, though she never yet has had the pleasure of burying anyone of her husbands; three of them having been lost at sea, and the other having run away from her.’

Oh my goodness, I can’t say I’d have been very comfortable being in his shoes, going by her marriage history!

Tell me your family history tales!

Email your fascinating and funny family history gems to me at [email protected] and they could feature in my column.

• This is an abridged version of Dear Karen, published in the December 2019 issue of Family Tree (on sale in print and digital from 22 October 2019). You can buy a copy here.

Illustration © Ellie Keeble for Family Tree.

QUICK LINK: How our Victorian ancestors dealt with death