Huge new database containing 20,000 names records Alnwick burials back to 17th Century

A two-year project to record all the burials at St Michael’s Church in Alnwick has now been completed

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 7:00 am

The project came about as a result of local residents and visitors seeking information about ancestors who may have been buried there.

Researcher Trish Jones embarked on the project to record an up to date searchable database and now has a list of 20,000 named individuals buried in the one and a half acre churchyard.

She has been assisted by Colin Watson in undertaking the arduous task of meticulously producing the database, photographing and transcribing the stones.

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A database of burials at St Michael's Church in Alnwick has been created.

The data store contains all the original church records from 1646 when this was the only burial ground for the people of Alnwick with the exception of a small Quaker plot and ones at St James’s and St Thomas Chapel.

The original records are held in the archives at Woodhorn Museum but the database means family historians will no longer have to make the journey there to search through the parish burial book.

“It has proved challenging deciphering early handwritten records and grave stone inscriptions in order to bring all the records together,” admitted Trish.

The churchyard closed in 1856 when it was becoming full although there were a small number of burials after this time.

St Michael's Church, Alnwick, around 1860.

A map exists to help find a burial plot for many burials and it is also possible in some cases to find an individual grave and head stone.

Some of the stones name those who died in the cholera epidemic of 1849 which claimed 136 lives.

The second part of the project was to record all the existing but deteriorating tomb stones.

A number of stones have fallen or were originally flat have become overgrown or completely hidden over the years. These have now been cleared of grass to reveal any inscriptions.

The gravestone of Lionil Alder who died in the 1700s.

Trish said: “A visitor could be forgiven for rushing through the church yard. Its grave stones are modest and hide the lives of the those buried here.

“However, Alnwick was certainly not short of characters in the past and folk who made an interesting contribution to the town.”

The next stage will be to explore the life and times of those buried there and write their stories.

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A table tomb stone for Edward Berens Blackburn.

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