Find an ancestor's burial details even if the burial ground no longer exists


22 May 2023
TheGenealogist has released 125,000 new records detailing burials in former cemeteries covering the years 1619 to 2003.

TheGenealogist has added to its Headstone Collection copies of records from certain local authorities and the Church Commissioners that relate to the removal of graves and tombstones in burial grounds. The originals of these records are held by The UK National Archives and can be viewed there by prior arrangement.

The records detail former cemeteries from all over England and Wales and cover the years 1619 to 2003. A number contain a plan of the original place of burial while some will reveal the place of reinterment also.

Example of information from a removed headstone

Headstones are an extremely useful record for the family historian as they can give the researcher information that has not been recorded elsewhere. They are usually fairly accurate in revealing dates and names, and often other family members are on the same tombstone or were buried close by. 

When a grave or headstone has been removed, then a record of the inscription may have been recorded in this particular recordset.

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The Removal of Graves and Tombstones records on TheGenealogist are part of their Death & Burials – Headstone Collection and are searchable by: 

  • the deceased’s name
  • year of death
  • place of original burial
  • any keyword that may have been included

The origin of these RG 37 official records of burial ground removals can be traced back to 1911 and a recommendation was made by the Attorney General that such records be made and deposited with the local registrar of births and deaths. The Registrar General suggested to the Home Secretary of the time that the records should be deposited with the miscellaneous records held by the General Register Office instead of at the local registrar. 

If your ancestor was buried in one of the burial grounds to have been recorded in this release then, despite the headstone no longer standing, you will be able to discover details about your ancestor recorded on their tombstone at the time it had been originally erected.

Explore the records online with a subscription at TheGenealogist.