Burial Registers Before 1813

In very early registers it was not uncommon to record a wife’s burial as simply “The wife of John Smith was buried”, without recording her name, but after a while, she would be mentioned by name.
Below: “Margaret the wife of John Neepe buried the 2d of December 1666”
This would normally be interpreted that the husband John was still alive.
(Note that “ye” is really the way that “the” was written, the “th” being combined into what we would think is a “y”.)


When a husband was buried, there was no reference to his wife, as in the above example:
“Robert Cutlowe buried the 8th day of Febry 1666”


Above: “Jane Neepe buryed the 25 of February 1667”
This would normally refer to a single woman over the age of 21, but could be a widow.


Above: we can easily differentiate between the burial of a widow, and that of a wife whose husband is still alive. She will normally be referred to as “widow of …” or “relict of …”

“Mary the relict of Will. Butler buried the 3rd of December 1669”
“Frances the wife of John Neepe buried the 16th of December 1669”


Above: the normal way of recording the death of a child under the age of 21 years.
“Robert the son of John Neepe buried January the 9th 1667”
“Frances Watkin the daughter of Jos Watkin buried Febry…”
(Note: Jos is an abbreviation of Joseph.)


By this time, it was common to also record the wife’s name when a child was buried.

“Frances the daughter of George Gregory & Frances his wife was buried
the 7th day of August 1668”

All of the above examples are from one page of the burial register for the parish of Winkburn in Nottinghamshire.

Some burial registers are little more than a list of names. For example the Southwell, Nottinghamshire burial register for 1723 reads:

Nov 12 Mary Watts
12 Mary Sininshire
14 Tho. son of Benj. Reinolds
16 Wm. son of John Neep
18 Millicent wife of Tho. Little
21 Mary da. of Wm. Crampton
23 Martha da. of Corn. Neep
30 John Stenton
30 Tho. Walker
Dec 5 John Yates
6 … of Rob. Walsin
14 Samuel Lowe Esq.
15 Ann Blundel
19 Ellen da. of Mr. Hollis Pigot
19 …. of Mr. Hoyland

Note that some entries are even incomplete, as if it was intended to fill in a name later. “Mr.” and “Esq” (Esquire) denotes a person of some standing in the community. A gentleman.

If you are still looking at burial registers before 1813 and need more help with them, don’t be afraid to ask the British Genealogy Forum. Filled with fellow genealogists, they can help you with any problems that you may come across. All you need to do is sign up; don’t worry it is completely free!