St Wilfrid's Cemetery

 

BURIALS IN DATE ORDER BURIALS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
INTRODUCTION

This website contains a list of the over 5000 people buried in St Wilfrid's Cemetery, Preston. It is based on burial transcripts compiled many years ago by a small group of dedicated volunteers, led by Margaret Purcell. A copy of the transcript is available in two volumes at the Lancashire Archives and are included on a CD published by the Catholic Family History Society, which is available to purchase on-line, currently priced at £7.50 + p&p.

The information contained in this website is not an exact copy of the burial transcripts, nor is it meant to be. I converted the transcripts to an electronic format, sorted them into both alphabetical and burial date order, then amended, corrected, and annotated them where necessary. As this website grows, I will be adding genealogical information on as many of these people as possible. Sadly, due to the lack of information recorded in the original records, some will never be properly identified.
St Wilfrid's OratoryHISTORY

In 1816, the Reverend Joseph "Daddy" Dunn, priest at St Wilfrid's Chapel, purchased a plot of land to use as a burial ground for the town's Catholic population. The cemetery, in what was to become St Wilfrid Street, was behind the school Mr Dunn had opened in Fox Street two years earlier, and was a short walk from St Wilfrid's Chapel, which had no open space immediately around it.

My interest in this long-forgotten cemetery is partly due to the fact that some of my distant relations are buried there, and also due to the fact that so few people today know of its existence. Several years ago, when some construction work was being done on land adjacent the cemetery, some human remains were accidentally unearthed. At the time, a local historian was quoted as saying that it was probably a mass cholera grave from the 1840s, but I knew this to be incorrect. This was not a mass grave of any description, but was what was once a beautiful little cemetery in our city centre. Laid out in lawn, with shrubs around the perimeter, and flowers growing amongst the headstones and other monuments.

Read more

[ Photo courtesy of Red Rose Collections from Lancashire County Council ]
NUMBERS and STATISTICS

The number of people buried in the cemetery varied over the years and within specific years. In some months there were two or three burials a day, while in other months there were none at all. In the coming weeks I will be providing details of the number of burials, with respect to how those numbers fluctuated during the years, and how public pressure may have played a part.




More to come
PETER NEWBYPeter Newby

Arguably the most notable person buried at St Wilfrid's was Peter Newby, a poet, teacher, and prominent member of the Catholic community...

 




More to come
 
History continued...

A high stone wall, some of which is still standing, enclosed the cemetery, with a path leading into the grounds from an ornate gateway in St Wilfrid Street. Flowers and Shrubbery were planted, and an Oratory (a small chapel used for graveside services) was built near to the boundary wall with the school. In 1837, P. Whittle, writing in his book, The History of the Borough of Preston, in the County Palatine of Lancaster, Vol. 1 described St. Wilfrid's Oratory in great detail:

'Behind this school the Catholics have a Burial ground, or cemetery, with a neat Oratory of brick, ornamented by a hip roof, on the centre of which stands, in order to beautify it, a croslet of stone. The following inscription occurs, cut in stone, over the entrance: - "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." 2nd Machabeus xii. 43. The inside is ornamented with stucco work, representing the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, with rays of glory falling into the angles of the roof. A Norman window lights the alter, consisting of painted glass, by that eminent artist Mr Raphael Eggington, of Birmingham. The figure of a cross is represented, fringed with an orange bordure; at its foot emblems of death and mortality are finely executed in vivid colouring, and has a pretty effect. The altar is painted in imitation of dark marble, and gives a sombre aspect to the building. Glass candlesticks mount the altar, which give a unique appearance to the window before which they stand. Many tombstones are laid in the yard, with appropriate inscriptions. Flowers and shrubs are permitted to grow amongst the tombs unmolested. "How frail the bloom, how short the stay, That terminates us all! To-day we flourish green and gay, Like leaves to-morrow fall." The whole is walled in, with an elegant gateway leading out of St. Wilfrid-street.'

St Wilfrid's Cemetery opened in late 1817, with the first burial, that of Mrs Rose McNally, taking place on the 13th of December 1817. The Oratory was licenced to perform services on 2 April 1818, and over the next 36 years over 5000 members of Preston's Catholic community were interred there.

The cemetery was closed by an act of Parliament dated 30 January 1854, with the last burial at St Wilfrid’s being that of Thomas Turner, aged 11 weeks, on 8 April 1854. (His mother had been interred there two months earlier). As years past, the cemetery fell into a sad state of neglect. At some point all of the headstones were removed and various buildings of a temporary nature came and went. The Oratory was pulled down not long after the above photo was taken in 1955.

Diagram

1: The location of the Oratory
2: A memorial to monks reburied in the 1820s
3: The original gateway into the cemetery

Note: This section will be expanded in the coming weeks, with further information, photographs, and building plans.


BURIALS IN DATE ORDER BURIALS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
 

 

Peter NewbyPETER NEWBY

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BURIALS IN DATE ORDER BURIALS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
 

 

NUMBERS and STATISTICS
Bar graph
[NOTE: This text is a place-holder for statistical information to come]

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BURIALS IN DATE ORDER BURIALS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER


Created: 06 Dec 2015 - Updated: Dec 2017

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