Ancestors traced within clicks after years of searching

Janet Ellis at her family's grave Janet Ellis with the family grave she found using newly digitised records, after a seven-year search

Related Stories

The names of 205,000 people once restricted to overgrown graveyards and dusty archives have been liberated for the world to see.

Brompton Cemetery in West Brompton, west London, is the first of the "Magnificent Seven" London cemeteries constructed during the 1830s and 1840s to put all its burial registers online.

It means Janet Ellis has found a family grave she did not know was there.

She also discovered a 13-month-old relative, for whom no records existed.

Alfred John was born in 1852 and died in 1853. He was Mrs Ellis's great-uncle twice removed.

She did not know about him because he died before he could be included in a census.

'Absolutely elated'

Within minutes of finding out that Deceased Online had published Brompton Cemetery's records, Mrs Ellis, a keen amateur family historian, had found her relatives.

She said: "I was absolutely elated to find they'd cropped up having searched every single parish in the archives for the last seven years. I was jumping around the house.

"I could have been searching for another 10 years."

Brompton's Notable Deceased

  • Emmeline Pankhurst - suffragette leader
  • Henry Mears - founder of Chelsea FC
  • Henry Cole - founder of the V&A Museum
  • Sir Samuel Cunard - shipping owner

Prior to records being digitised, UK researchers faced the challenge of approaching up to 3,000 burial authorities and nearly 250 crematoria, each independently holding their own registers.

But in the same week that Brompton Cemetery marks the 173rd anniversary of its first burial, anyone can now find out online whether their relatives are interred there and the location of the grave.

Mrs Ellis had her first sight of her family grave on Thursday.

She said: "I've never visited a grave before. It's a weird sense of belonging. It is emotional even though it happened a long, long time ago."

Asked why she is so fascinated by tracking down her ancestors she said: "It gives you pride in how your families were.

Izaak Gray Izaak Gray had the task of leafing through the pages of Brompton Cemetery's register to scan them

"It makes sense of the family that I do know. It makes sense of where I've inherited certain traits from and connects me with social history."

Else Churchill, of the Society of Genealogists, has welcomed so much information being made available for people worldwide.

"Prior to this, you would have to plough through a vast number of registers armed with a precise idea of when your ancestor was buried. It could be a real challenge," she said.

"It's the first of the really big municipal cemeteries built after the 1840s to come online."

The 900,000 burial records of St Pancras Cemetery are also available on the internet but Brompton's are the first of the "Magnificent Seven" - seven cemeteries so called because they were built following 1832 legislation to alleviate overcrowding in parish burial grounds.

'Dark basement'

Richard Gray, of Deceased Online, hopes the other six cemeteries, Abney Park, Highgate, Kensal Green, Nunhead, Tower Hamlets and West Norwood, will follow.

He said: "There are often gaps in birth, marriage and death registers and census records. Burial records are a good extra resource."

"The records when someone dies are ironically often the fullest," said Nick Barratt from The National Archives.

"Obituaries, memorial cards and wills all allow us to resurrect people."

Mr Gray's nephew Izaak had the task of scanning each of the 141 registers for Brompton's 40 acres of graves.

"It took six weeks of working four days a week in the quite dark basement of the National Archives, looking over page by page," he said.

Coincidentally, the Grays found two relatives of their own buried close to Mrs Ellis's.

"Burial and cremation records are often the ancestral missing link," said Mr Gray.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

27 °C 17 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Feeling the economic growth? 10:01: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Thanks for your comments on Vanessa Feltz's Facebook page on whether you can feel the growth of the British economy in your pocket.

    Lance Pearce said: "Maybe for the rich, but the man in the street would scoff at these claims."

    But Richard Ball said: "Its seems a bit better in that there's a fair bit of work about but I wouldn't say I'm exactly coining it in, better than 5 years ago though it was bloody awful then!"

     
  2.  
    Boxer shot dead 09:51:

    On this day in 1965, former champion British boxer and nightclub owner Freddie Mills was found shot dead in his car in Soho.

    Freddie Mills
     
  3.  
    Boy dies in crash 09:38:

    A six-year-old boy has died after being struck by a car in Thamesmead, south-east London, yesterday evening.

    He was walking with his mother and other family members when the collision took place in St John Fisher Road, near its junction with Kale Road. He died in hospital an hour later. The car's driver stopped at the scene and no-one has been arrested.

     
  4.  
    Tony Blackburn's 50th anniversary 09:27: Tony Blackburn BBC London, Presenter

    tweets: My 50th Anniversary of broadcasting today !.July 25th 1964 at 4pm I played my first record on Radio Caroline, Rag Doll by the Four Seasons

     
  5.  
    Secret Cinema 09:17:

    Secret Cinema are set to announce at 11:00 whether tonight's show will go ahead.

    Fans dressed up with nowhere to go

    It comes after it cancelled its first Back to the Future themed event was cancelled yesterday, much to the anger of fans.

     
  6.  
    Child abuse 'cover-up' 09:06:

    There was a cover-up to protect politicians' reputations following allegations of abuse at a children's home, it has been claimed.

    Nigel Goldie, former assistant director of social services at Lambeth Council, said it appeared "high level decisions" were made not to explore allegations against public figures. The government is preparing an enquiry into historical abuse claims and Lambeth Council said it would co-operate.

     
  7.  
    Top headlines
     
  8.  
    Economic recovery 08:54: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    From 09:00 today, Vanessa Feltz is asking if you are feeling Britain's economic recovery in your pocket?

    Call on 02072242000 or email Vanessa@bbc.co.uk.

     
  9.  
    No more Tours 08:44:

    Sir Bradley Wiggins says he will not ride the Tour de France again after claiming that road racing is "cut-throat" with "no kind of loyalties".

    Sir Bradley Wiggins

    The 34-year-old from Kilburn, who won the race in 2012, added: "I've kind of done the road now. I've bled it dry."

     
  10.  
    New payment for Tube 08:34: Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

    Transport for London is set to introduce contactless bank card payments on the Tube, DLR and London Overground from 16 September.

    It is continuing to remind customers that it is imperative that they only touch one card to the reader to avoid "card clash".

    Oyster will still be accepted but it is the beginning of the end for paper tickets.

     
  11.  
    Delays on trains 08:26: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    There are delays of 25 minutes in and out Liverpool Street Station on Greater Anglia and Stansted Express after a train broke down at Tottenham Hale.

    On the Piccadilly line, there are severe delays between Heathrow Airport and Acton Town after a signal failure. Get up to date travel information on BBC London Travel News or on Twitter @BBCTravelAlert.

     
  12.  
    Olympic Park homes increase 08:14:

    Homes close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park have increased in value by more than £125,000 since London won the bid for the Games nine years ago.

    Olympic Park

    According to research by Lloyds Bank, the average house price in some areas of east London closest to the Park is now about £335,000. The bank said in England and Wales, prices rose by £63,000.

     
  13.  
    Piccadilly road traffic 08:09: Paul Murphy-Kasp Journalist, BBC London

    In town, the A4 Piccadilly is part blocked at Albemarle Street following a collision, leading to queues back through Hyde Park Corner and Piccadilly Underpass.

    For the latest travel news follow @BBCTravelAlert on Twitter.

     
  14.  
    Sunny, warm and thunder 08:02:

    Any localised early low cloud soon clearing to leave another very sunny and warm day with highs of 28C (82F).

    Heavy thundery showers will develop in the afternoon giving some localised downpours, especially in places to the west of Richmond.

     
  15.  
    08:00: Debabani Majumdar BBC London News

    Morning. I'll be guiding you through BBC Local Live today, bringing you the latest news, travel, weather and sport from across London.

    Get in touch with your comments and photos by emailing london.locallive@bbc.co.uk.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Canada.Hidden rail trip

    Canada's tiny, two-car shuttle is a train lover's dream with scenic views

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.