General Collection Information
With the population in London quickly growing into the middle of the 19th century, the city found itself running out of space for burying the dead. A series of Burial Acts helped to establish more cemeteries and move toward safer burial practises.
This collection includes registers from four cemeteries managed by the City of Westminster between 1855 and 1990. These cemeteries include Hanwell Cemetery, Mill Hill Cemetery, St Marylebone Cemetery, and Willesden Lane Cemetery. These registers can be a great place to trace your ancestor.
Using this Collection
Cemetery registers can be a great source for genealogical information, because they can provide precise information about individuals. When available, these records can help you to locate your ancestor’s last resting place. They are also some of the most recent records that exist about them.
Years included vary by each cemetery in this collection. The details within this collection generally include the following items:
- Residence date
- Event type (for example, death, burial, or cremation)
- Event date
History of the Collection
In the first half of the 19th century, the population of London more than doubled. This made space tight for both the living and the dead. The government passed a series of Burial Acts in the early 1850s prohibiting most burials within the city limits, except for royalty. Burial grounds began to close, and many remains were relocated to growing private grounds outside of London.
Following the Metropolitan Burial Act, a number of public cemeteries were established. These included St. Marylebone Cemetery, Hanwell Cemetery, and Paddington (Old) Cemetery (Willesden Lane Cemetery). By 1857, a national system of public cemeteries was established.
Cremation was legalised in England in 1885 as an alternative to traditional burial, saving space in cemeteries. Nine years later, the Local Government Act made local authorities responsible for managing cemeteries, with the goal of improving health and safety standards.
By 1923, since Willesden Lane Cemetery was filling up quickly, the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington resolved to acquire land for a new cemetery. The New Paddington Cemetery, or the Mill Hill Cemetery, opened in 1936. The following year, a crematorium was added to St Marylebone Cemetery.
Darlington Historical Society. “The Historic Development of Cemeteries in England.” Last Accessed November 25, 2020, https://darlingtonhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com/general-information/the-historic-development-of-cemeteries-in-england/.
Find a Grave. “East Finchley Cemetery.” Last Modified July 22, 2001, https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/638867/east-finchley-cemetery-and-crematorium.
St Marylebone. “Burial Grounds.” Last Modified 2018, https://www.stmarylebone.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=146:brookwood-cemetery&catid=40:information&Itemid=266.
The Cremation Society. “History of Modern Cremation in the United Kingdom.” Last Modified 2020, https://www.cremation.org.uk/history-of-cremation-in-the-united-kingdom#:~:text=had%20dared%20hope.-,The%20first%20cremation,of%20three%20cremations%20that%20year.
Westminster City Archive. “Cemetery Registers.” Last Modified March 2013, https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/workspace/assets/publications/Info-Sheet-07-Cemetery-Regs-1331289472.pdf.
Westminster City Archive. “East Finchley Cemetery.” Last Modified March 15, 2019, https://www.westminster.gov.uk/east-finchley-cemetery#:~:text=Marylebone%20Cemetery%2C%20it%20was%20formerly,cemetery%20in%20the%20early%201990s.
Westminster City Archive. “Hanwell Cemetery.” Last Modified April 16, 2020, https://www.westminster.gov.uk/hanwell-cemetery.
Westminster City Archive. “Mill Hill Cemetery.” Last Modified April 16, 2020, https://www.westminster.gov.uk/millhill-cemetery.