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Paupers graves

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Patricia Report 10 Apr 2013 22:30

Hi everyone
sorry was not around earlier but thank you so much for all your replies it has been very helpful and certainly interesting.
I had contacted the bereavement services office and they sent me details, a list of all those interred and an approximation of where the grave was. Apparently as told by the assistant most of these graves would be around the perimiter wall. The saddest thing for me though is that my father passed away never knowing he had had an older brother. I only discovered it by coincidence as once starting my research I wondered why my father had not been named William as had many of the previous first sons, so with a little research made this discovery.
I will certainly to following the suggestions received, thank you all again.


CupCakes Report 10 Apr 2013 03:12

I agree with what Reggie and others have said. I have 3 generations of close family members in different parts of the county where the child was buried in this way.

I found researching all this very distressing. My cuz and his wife came from AUS 2 years again. We went to Canvey Island primarily to find the grave of his brother born & died 1938.

Just so lucky the historians on the island took great pains to find the records. Mainly because the church is now the island's Cultural centre. We were told the same thing about the way they handled babies & small childrens' deaths back then. All of us were thinking the same thing how could the family have allowed William to be buried this way, in an unmarked grave with others. Took us 2 days to locate the actual spot - no idea who are the others buried in the same plot.

So moving to see cousin pray on the spot crying.
:-( :-( :-(


DazedConfused Report 9 Apr 2013 19:32

To add to Jonesys comments in my family tree my g/g/uncle and his wife had 8 children all of whom survived in to adulthood which was a miracle as they lived in one of the worst parts of SW London.

This was due in part to the fact that all the children were born in the workhouse infirmary. Now the family had a home which they lived in for many years but the wife went to the workhouse to have all her children.

Many of the old workhouse infirmaries went on to become the Cottage Hospitals that survived the end of the workhouse.

However, many workhouses did remain open well into the 60's and were eupemistically call 'reception centres'. I know of one in Walworth and one in Plumstead (both South London, I forget I am talking about areas that not everyone knows!!!). And in these reception centres men and boys were seperated from women and children, it was still a place for families to go who had nothing.


Amokavid Report 9 Apr 2013 16:40

Being buried in such a grave did not neccessarily mean that the people in them had been in the workhouse, & very young babies were often interred within anothers plot back then.

My granny was buried in a Pauper/Public grave along with several other unrelated people in 1933, she had no connection to the workhouse,she was a married with a working husband & 2 of her children in work,the reason for the pauper burial was simply down to the fact that the family didn't have the money to purchase a private plot.

Pauper funerals still occur today! though they are not "usually" in multi plots.



Andysmum Report 9 Apr 2013 16:08

My great grandparents came across from Ireland in 1880, settling in Barrow-in-Furness. They lived in a slum, (until it was flattened as being "unfit for human habitation") but ggrandfather worked in the shipyard and they paid their way. They were never well off but as far as I am aware, were never in receipt of any sort of Poor Relief or in the Workhouse.

Both parents and at least four of their children were buried in paupers' graves, in the Municipal Cemetery, between 1890 and 1937. I think the costs were paid by the local Council.

I was given this information by the staff at the cemetery office, from their records, and also shown where the graves were.


Sharron Report 9 Apr 2013 16:01

The depression was at it's depthi the thirties. It is possible the family had no money fora burial and had not taken out insuranc(the 1d a week policy that was the norm then),maybe because they could not afford it.

The parish may have paid for the burial,it is worth a look in vestry minutes or parochial records.

Otherwise go on A2A and see what your local record office have involving poor relief.


Reggie Report 9 Apr 2013 16:00

Deceased infants and small children were often placed in the coffin of the next adult due for burial............usually when the family was poor, but not always.


Jonesey Report 9 Apr 2013 15:46

Your statement that most people buried in a paupers grave were connected to workhouses in some way is possibly correct. But remember that they may not only have been workhouse inmates. They may have just been patients of the workhouse infirmary which for many poor people was their only source of hospitalisation pre 1947 when the National Health Service began.

Welfare as we know it today simply didn't exist even in the 1930's so if no personal or family funds were available to cover funeral costs the deceased ended up in a paupers grave.

Just out of interest the link below will take you to the web site of a cemetery close to where I live. It is reported that over 2,500 people were buried in unmarked paupers graves there. A memorial is now in place as a focus point for anyone who visits the cemetery hoping to find the final resting place of their ancestors.

Following the Local Government Act 1929 Boards of Guardians who had been responsible for workhouses were abolished and responsibility was transferred to local councils. In the case of West Bromwich the workhouse was finally closed in 1937. The buildings however continued to be used as part of Hallam Hospital for many years afterwards. When my father died in 1972 he died in what had previously been the workhouse infirmary.


Patricia Report 9 Apr 2013 15:18

I have recently discovered that a relative was buried alongside four others in an unmarked grave. He was a child of only one month and the others I am not sure about but the grave had been reopened over a period of seventy years. Much of what I know and it's not a lot is that most of these paupers graves were of people in the workhouse. However this was not so with my family This burial was in the early 1930's and in a public cemetery. Who would the family have applied to to pay for burial. I contacted the local breavement service but unfortunately they were unable to help. Any advice would be most welcome