I’ve just been on a visit to the City of London and while on my way to a meeting I realised I was passing the famous nonconformist burial ground of Bunhill Fields!
It was back in 1665 that the City of London Corporation hit on the idea of making use of some of the fen in this area as a common burial ground for the interment of bodies of the City’s inhabitants who had died of the plague and could not be accommodated in the churchyards.
The burial ground then went on to attract those people who were mainly Protestant but who dissented from the Established Church. The reason for this was the predominance of such citizens in the City of London over others who did not conform to the Church of England’s ways, such as the Catholics or Jews. Not withstanding this, Bunhills burial ground was open for interment to anyone who could afford to pay the fees.
The end of this burial ground was to come after the 1852 Burial Act was passed. This piece ofÂ legislation enabled places such as Bunhill Fields to be closed, once they had become full. For Bunhills, its Order for closure was made in December 1853. The records show that the final burialÂ was for Elizabeth Howell Oliver and this took place on January 5 1854. By that date approximately 120,000 interments had taken place.
Nearby can be found the Quaker Burial ground, known as Quaker Gardens. These are on the other side of Bunhill Row to the main nonconformist grounds and contains the burial plot of George Fox, who founded the Quakers.
In many other parts of the country nonconformists would simply have made use of the Parish church yard until public cemeteries became the norm for internment. True that there are a few nonconformist burial grounds in other parts of the country but many were miles away from where the deceased lived and so it was more practical to be buried in the church yard along with their Church of England neighbours.
For those of you researching Parish Records and Non-Conformist Records my advice is to go and look at what TheGenealogist has to offer:
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