Burials 1813–2001 Dorset

Wantage Berkshire Family History GenealogyThe Ancestry.co.uk collection consists of Church of England burial records from parishes in Dorset. The original records are kept at the Dorset History Centre, Dorchester, Dorset. The time period covered is 1813 – 2001, but this will depend on when the parish was established and whether the records have survived.

The FindMyPast transcripts may not cover all the parishes in Dorset and the time periods may not reflect the total time period that the original registers encompass. A list of the parishes and time periods that these transcripts cover can be obtained from the Find My Past website or by contacting the Dorset Family History Society.

George Rose’s Act of Parliament stipulated that from 1813 all registers were to be of a pre-printed type with standardised information.


Until the advent of facilities where bodies could be kept hygienically and without deterioration burials usually took place within a few days of death. This occurred particularly in the warmer months, in the winter the delay between death and burial may be slightly longer.

In the 19th century there were several scandals caused by Body Snatchers who literally removed bodies within hours of burial and sold them to medical schools for dissection purposes. The best known of the body snatchers were Messrs Burke & Hare, a Google search of their names will bring forth much information if you wish to know more about these practises.

Due to fears of such events occurring some graves were surrounded by iron railings with sharp, pointed tops to deter the snatchers and some church yards and cemeteries installed watch houses and employed men to patrol recent graves so that they were undisturbed.

From 1852 there was a series of Burial Acts passed by the government. The catalyst for these acts was the state of churchyards in the cities throughout the country. London in particular has several incidences whereby bodies where disinterred and disposed off without any respect very soon after burial to make room for more corpses. The result of this state of affairs was that independent companies were formed and land was purchased to establish large cemeteries usually on the outskirts of cities. Some companies were formed several decades prior to the burial act.  In London there are seven such cemeteries; Kensal Green 1832, West Norwood 1837, Highgate 1839, Abney Park 1840, Nunhead 1840, Brompton 1840, Tower Hamlets 1841.

Therefore from the mid Victorian period researchers should familiarise themselves with the possible burial sites within the areas where their ancestors lived. In country areas there is generally just the burial yards surrounding the local church, but larger towns and cities may have a number of possible burial sites. Also bear in mind that those who attended non-conformist churches and chapels may well have been buried in a non-conformist burial ground even if this meant that the corpse had to be transported some distance.

 Burial Registers

The George Rose registers gave the following information

Name, Abode, When buried, Age, By whom the burial was performed. Sometimes in the margin the date of death was noted and if the death occurred due to unusual causes then that also may be noted. If there is a note that the burial was authorised by a coroner it would be worthwhile contacting the county archives to see if the coroner’s report has survived. Newspaper reports were often quite lengthy if the death was unusual or the person concerned was well known in the area.



A more detailed lesson on parish registers can be found here …….
click on
Parish Registers.

Where scanned & indexed images of the original records can be found online

Burials 1813 – 2001 www.ancestry.co.uk

Where indexed transcripts of the records can be found online

Burials 1813 – various www.findmypast.co.uk

Note – Transcripts may not be a full record of everything on the original entry, also transcripts are open to error on the part of the transcriber. Viewing the original document online is preferable.