This week I look in detail at the burial registers featured in the new Blackburn and Darwen Collection, highlighting the rich variety of information to be found within.

This collection has been digitized in partnership with Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council. The Council's Cemeteries Office is based in Pleasington Cemetery BB2 5LE, from where staff manage three cemeteries and one crematorium. The Deceased Online database contains their burial and cremation records for the following dates:

  • Blackburn Cemetery (aka Whalley New Road): 1859 - 1997 
  • Darwen Cemetery: 1861 - 1998
  • Pleasington Cemetery: 1969 - 2001 
  • Pleasington Crematorium: 1957 - 2003.
Blackburn and Darwen's records includes scans of the burial registers, details of those buried in each grave, and some also have detailed sections maps showing locations of the graves. The total number of individuals recorded in the three cemeteries' burial registers is over 276,000, and there are details of more than 63,000 cremations.

Blackburn Cemetery's earliest burial registers use terms that may appear unusual to today's readers. This example from 1858 gives two examples of the word "abortive". From the mid-18th century, this term was used to describe a stillborn child.

In this example the stillborn children, Ward and Beardsworth, have not been given forenames. Burial records from elsewhere in this period reveal that this was not always the case. This page is from the Nonconformist section of the Cemetery - then known as "the Burial Ground at Blackburn". The Cemetery also sections for Roman Catholics, members of the Church of England, and Jews.

This part of the burial register is also remarkable for noting the "Place where Death occurred" rather than the more usual residence of the deceased. Many of the entries on this page are for children and it is not unusual to see the names of their parents recorded. What is less usual in these registers (and is of great help to family historians) is that even the adults' parents are named. In the above example we see that 33 year old Richard Jones was the son of Abel and Mary. 

Further down the page is the example of 67 year old widow, Ellen Ainsworth. This burial entry is valuable for noting that her parents were "Richard & Rebecca Thornburgh". At such an early date, it can be difficult to find women's maiden names in English records, especially those born or married before civil registration began in 1837. For this reason, the early burial registers of Blackburn Cemetery are equivalent to a genealogical treasure trove.

Like Blackburn, Darwen Cemetery has separate sections for Anglicans, Nonconformists and Roman Catholics. These can be seen clearly on the map which can be downloaded from the database. The following example from the first page of Darwen Cemetery Register shows the entry for 62 year Lydia Haworth, who was buried on the June 1861.
This left page entry gives the date of burial, Lydia's name, age and abode. The blank space is for profession. On the right page of the entry we see that Lydia is from Holy Trinity parish and that she is number 11 in the Order Book and buried in plot B, number 360 in Consecrated ( C ) ground. The officiating minister was James Palmour BA and the Registrar was John Ridge.

Lydia's entry contains names of the others interred in her grave, and the dates they were buried. This screenshot shows that they are James Sittle, Timothy Ainsworth and Richard Haworth.
I hope this post has illustrated the rich variety of material that can be found in the burial registers of Blackburn and Darwen. This is just a small sample of what can be found in this collection from the mid-19th century to the 21st. Next week, I shall be exploring the lives of  some of the famous and remarkable residents of Blackburn and Darwen whose records are now held on Deceased Online.

If you are interested in learning more about the cemeteries featured in this collection or would like to attend a tour, please contact the relevant Friends' Group - The Friends of Darwen Cemetery or The Friends of Old Blackburn Cemetery.

Do let us know if you find anything in the collection that you would like to share via our Facebook or Twitter pages. We love to hear from you!


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