Finding a grave
April 27, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

How do you find a grave?

A friend of mine had a younger brother die at a very young age. The body was buried in a graveyard in the UK--we know which one--but there was no headstone placed. She would dearly love a headstone on the grave. Is there an online resource to find out which plot is which, a process to go through to find out, does it go through the local council or the church?

My friend went to the church by the graveyard and it was locked up with no signs of recent use.
posted by Navek Rednam to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total)
NB: I know US burial regulations, not UK.

There is probably no way to do this online. Your best bet is to find out who was in charge of the burying ground when it was in use, be it a church or a private or town society. The town should have records of this. Someone is probably still in charge of the maintainence of the cemetery.

She will have to go to the town council. (Or, possibly, another church of the same denomination nearby might know who is in charge of the burials there.) In the US all burials are recorded by the cemetery association, generally on what amounts to a big pile of index cards; in the US you are allowed access to them, assuming they still exist.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:44 AM on April 27, 2006

Go to the records department in the town where the graveyard is located. They should have detailed records. I was travelling in Minnesota a few years back, and wanted to get my (then) g/f a rubbing of her grandfather's stone. The old lady in City hall up there helped me out immensely.
posted by notsnot at 11:45 AM on April 27, 2006

How easy it may or may not be depends on the graveyard. Sometimes they'll have a phone number, you call it, and they look it up in the computer in three seconds. Others require an extensive lookup through boxes in a basement that might cost you money.

Since you know the location of the graveyard, see if you can find someone nearby who might have access to the local church, library, town records, etc.

I found someone through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness to help me find my grandfather's grave and obituary. They have international volunteers as well. It's a long shot, but you might get lucky. A lot of the volunteers seem to have connections with the right people and/or agencies.

Someone, somewhere has records for that cemetery. If the local church closed down there might be a nearby church the records were transferred to.

Occasionally a list is on-line. There are volunteers who transcribe gravestones to put on-line. has a few grave lists.

I'd start by googling the cemetery, the town, the boy's name, and keywords like "genealogy" and "vital records."
posted by bondcliff at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2006
posted by nimsey lou at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2006

As I understand it, there is no central record in the UK for burial information. I think though that the local council records department should have a records of the burials in the area. If they don't then they will almost certainly know where to find it.
posted by patricio at 1:24 PM on April 27, 2006

The town council will put you in contact with the caretaker of the church; or they themselves might be the caretakers of the church and graveyard.

They are likely to have burial records stretching back to the 1500s. The UK is very good about that kind of thing; however they do not keep centralized burial records so you have to go to the village where the person is buried to do the research.
posted by Nicholas West at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2006

CofE or RC church?

If it's CofE then you might be able to get some more info by going to the diocese website and looking for the parish. It's a bit hit and miss, but it might give you an online starting point.

If the graveyard is attached to the church then I'd assume that it hasn't been deconsecrated (I believe they have to dig you up to do that), so there should be someone in charge of it. Check at the parish or deanery level.

I've had to deal with the CofE a couple of times and I've always been surprised with how technologically aware they are.
posted by twine42 at 3:17 AM on April 28, 2006

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