Thursday, 11 April 2013

Thankful Thursday - Wakefield Council Burial Records and Registers

Oh, that more Councils could do what Wakefield have done with their cemetery burial registers - the registers from Alverthorpe, Castleford, Crigglestone, Ferrybridge, Horbury, Knottingley and Outwood are available to search online, and it's not just an index, there are images of the actual pages too, absolutely free to view.  For a number of other cemeteries, including Hemsworth, Normanton and Wakefield, the site provides browsable images of the registers, but no index as yet although they comment that the site is updated periodically so you should check back every now and then.  I don't know where they got the money to do this or what the impetus was to create the resource but it's the best free burials site I know of.

The OH has a family line, the Taylors, who lived in Castleford from the early 1800s until his branch moved to Barnsley in the 1880s.  Other members of the family continued in the area, presumably until the present day.  Burials began in the various Castleford cemeteries in 1857 so these records are invaluable for finding out what happened to members of the Taylor family and their descendants.

One particularly convoluted ancestor whose story I have touched on before is Susannah Rogers, born around 1830 in Hull and brought back to Castleford to live by her husband Matthew Taylor, the OH's 3x great grandfather.  When I left Susannah she had been listed in the 1861 census as the housekeeper of a Samuel Appleyard.  Living with them were her son Aaron, the OH's 2x great grandfather and two small girls, Elizabeth and Christiana who on further investigation were probably the children of an unmarried liaison between Susannah and Samuel.  My proof for this was the burial entry from the local church, All Saints in Castleford which gives Elizabeth's middle name as Appleyard on her burial in 1863 aged just four years old.  I had found that record on Ancestry in the West Yorkshire Parish Records, but a corroborating entry also appears on the Wakefield Council website.
1863 Burial entry (edited to show headings) from Castleford Cemetery (from Wakefield Council)
This tells me that despite the burial service being conducted at the church little Elizabeth was actually buried in the cemetery. 

Castleford Cemeteries themselves are fairly confusing - the Wakefield Council site lists the Castleford Old Cemetery, burials between 1857 and 1925 with a smattering thereafter, probably burials in pre-existing graves, also Castleford New Cemetery, burials from 1884 to 1979 and Castleford New Extension, burials 1929 to 1979. 
Castleford Healdfield Road Cemeteries, 1893 on the left, 1933 on the right (from Old Maps)
After a fair amount of Googling and comparing maps on various sites I think I know which section of the cemetery is which.  The section to the south of the road is higher up the hill and contains the cemetery keeper's lodge, I think that is the older part, it appears on a small scale map of the area on the Digimap's site from the 1890s.  Both sections appear on Old Map's 1893 larger scale map view (see above left), so the section to the north which contains the two mortuary chapels must be newer as it was not visible on the smaller scale map.  On Geograph a picture of the southern part of the cemetery has a captions suggesting that Church of England burials were carried out there whilst Non-Conformists and Catholics etc where buried in the northern section.  Hmm, so where did they bury the Non-Cons before 1884?

But which bit is the New Extension?  The 1908 version of the same snip on Old Maps shows only an extension on the south side of the road - so as no-one was buried in the New Extension until after 1929 I think that it must be the extra section on the north side, adjacent to the allotments.  Both sides of the road have doubled in size between 1893 and 1933.  A further photo on Geograph appears to back this up as it shows the northern side with modern gravestones, the railway line and a chemical works beyond.

So far I have identified five definite burials in the Castleford Cemeteries for the OH's family.  By cross referencing the burial records with a CD available from the Pontefract & District Family History Society I even have a photo of one of the Taylor family graves. 
Gravestone in the Old Section of Castleford Cemetery (thanks to Pontefract & District FHS)
Life is never simple though - there are eleven names on this gravestone, Joseph Taylor, his wife Ann, a daughter Sarah and her husband James Batty plus seven other children.  Many of the children died before the cemeteries were opened so despite their names being on the stone they must be buried in the old, old churchyard burial ground of All Saints church in the town centre.   More research needed ...

Thank you Wakefield Council for providing a wonderful free online resource - please can you share your funding advice with other local councils?

5 comments:

dprakel said...

I think the Wakefield Council site has been taken down now the records are being made available as 'pay per view' on deceased online. The Wakefield site now gives a 401 error "You are not authorized to view this page
". Thank goodness I did the bulk of my Castleford and Pontefract burial research last month.

If this is so I'm sure you'll agree monetisation is one of the sadder aspects of modern genealogy.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Concerned about the above comment I just tried a search on the Wakefield site using the link near the start of my post.

I was able to see the site and search successfully. Maybe the writer above was just unlucky and tried the site when it was temporarily down for maintenance or something, I don't know?

Has anyone else had problems?

dprakel said...

Looks like the site is back in business this morning after two days 'off air'. So I was wrong to presume Wakefield had 'defected'. Wish they would show a Page Unavailable error if there is maintenance or even give a warning on their site of scheduled down time then one wouldn't presume the worst.

susan rowley said...

I have tried to view the site for the last 2 weeks and keep getting the error page anyone know what is going on!!

BarnsleyHistorian said...

It seems they are 'redeveloping the site'. http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/residents/libraries-and-local-history/local-history/tracing-your-family-tree/genealogy-searches#.U0gsmsnTW5k