Friday, 27 April 2012

Gravestone Photos website

There has been a growth over the past few years of website's offering information about graves in churchyards and cemeteries worldwide.  Sites which are well known include DeceasedOnline (subscription site), and Findagrave.

One that has recently come to my attention is Gravestone Photos which describes itself as an international grave monument directory.  As with many similar sites it depends on the work of volunteers to photograph and detail the graves from each graveyard so the coverage is patchy but it now has 1500 cemeteries with over 440,000  names  from 210,000 graves (there usually being more than one name to a grave). 

It is an international resource with graveyards as far afield as Canada, Malta and the Isle of Man but I have limited my review to the coverage of Sussex.  There are 40 Sussex graveyards listed (and three more to be added this year); you can search all graveyards (worldwide) by surname or select and view the graves recorded within a specific churchyard.  You can't do a surname search on a specific churchyard which is more of a problem when the graves run to several pages of information, although they are listed alphabetically by surname.

Most churches are not complete; some such as St Marys in Felpham has only 1 grave recorded or St Peters in Henfield which has 28 graves.   For each church there is a photograph of the church (if available)  a description and map location.  The description includes the number of graves included and how complete the coverage is.  There is also a postcode for the graveyard which can be useful if you want to visit the church.

One of the best things about this site are the photos of the graves, a small image is supplied  (where available) of the grave on the website but you can request a better quality image free of charge.

This project and others like it are vital because so many graves are becoming illegible due to wind and rain erosion and a myriad of other problems.  They are also important because they make it possible to find where our ancestors buried, death certificates tell us about an ancestors death but they do not record where they were buried.   Our ancestors do not always make things easy for us as they can be buried some distance from where they died or from where they lived.  Grave stones often provide information and connections which are not readily available from other sources.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A recent annual survey of rural places to live in the UK by the Halifax looked at factors such as the availability of jobs, quality of housing and standards of education and health.  Two areas of Sussex came out in the top 50, Mid Sussex (Cuckfield, Hurstpierpoint) was ranked 15th whilst Wealden (Hailsham, Heathfield) came in at 31st.  

As someone who lives in the Wealden district I have to agree that it is a great area to live especially on a day like today when the sun is shining!

For more information on the survey see the report in the Guardian

Amusing parish register entries

Over the years I have found and noted some interesting parish register entries.  
"April 10th [1811] George Stephens.  Aged 32.  By excess in drinking.  A man of most excellent C[harac]ter.  A Kind husband, a fond Father, and a useful Labourer.  Universally esteemed and the only time during his residence in the Parish known to be the least in Liquor.  His untimely end was greatly pitied and lamented."  (East Hoathly)
"Buryed Lawrence Davie the 9th day [December 1629] who died of the falling sickness being fallen into a ditch" (Hailsham - 'falling sickness' could have been epilepsy)
"[baptised] fleefornication ye base borne of Allce Allce ye 9 day [February 1628/9]" (Hailsham - poor kid!)
"[baptised] Philip Son of Sarah Kyte & of a Rascal unknown base born [13th April 1766]" (Withyham)
"Novr 8 [1778] Baptiz'd Anne, Daughter of Mary the Wife of Fawkner Harding and George Mankivick, her husband having left her many years past for being a Whore" (Wadhurst)
 "Aug: 21 [1768 baptised] Thomset posthumous Child (the sex not distinguishable) of Moses & Eliz. Cloak" (Guestling)
This entry had some extra annotations which I have marked by underlining them - presumably these were added later by someone (most likely the vicar) who knew the couple - or didn't approve of them
 "Jany 16 [1776] Jane Weller At 63 not the wife never married of Edward Weller bought on a Waggon the Road being almost impassable by the great depth of snow." (Withyham)
Hailsham seems to have been a particularly Puritan area - (or at least the priests appear to have been)
"Buryed Edward Willforde the 4th day [July 1625] who felle downe dead as he was playing a match of footballe on the Sabbath day" (Hailsham) 
 "Buried John Lucas the 30th of March 1665, who was smitten with suddaine death , at the Alehouse having bin longe tipleinge there" (Hailsham)
 "28th Jan 1683 Elizabeth Edwards an innocent sister of Mr Posthumous Edwards [buried]" (Portslade - poor old Posthumous never had the chance to forget his mother died during childbirth)
 "[Feb 1737] 6 Buried the Widow Watchers" (Wadhurst - I love the way this entry reads, I imagine a clandestine group who watch bereaved women!)
Finally an entry that illustrates one of the many problems that genealogists face, from the Withyham parish registers
"July 2 [1780] Mr Davies baptized someone whom he could not recollect"   
No doubt someone I have spent many hours looking for!!