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Archiver > LONDON > 1999-10 > 0941060420

From: "John Henley" <>
Subject: Re: Burial versus Cremation
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 1999 22:40:20 +0100

Hi Fiona,
Cremation became legal in this country following the acquittal of a Welsman
who had cremated the dead body of one of his family in the 1880s. One of the
earliest Crematoria to open in England was Golders'Green in 1902. From then
on the number of cremations per year slowly increased, once one or two
well-known people's remains were cremated, like Sir Henry Irving and
W.S.Gilbert. Not until the sixties did the number of cremations per year
pass the number of burials. About the same time it became legal under canon
law for Roman Catholics to use cremation.I suspect if you enter cremation in
your search engine you will discover more about the history of the practice.
It took much longer for cremation to "catch on" in Scotland, and outside
large conurbatiuons is still not usual because of the long distances
Gravestones/headstones/memorials [markers is only used on this side of the
pond for small iron plates with the grave-number on or temporary wooden
cross or suchlike] of wood, metal, and increasingly stone, became
increasingly popular in the 19th century. They were not usually allowed on
"pauper's" [i.e. common graves, where no exclusive rights of burial had been
purchased]. However, as is witnessed by the stones in the East London
Cemetery, even some of the poor scrimped and saved for a "proper send-off"
with black-plumed horses drawing a glass hearse, and a large and solid
Even today one hears talk of a "proper East End funeral," and horsedrawn
hearses are still occasionally used.
Unfortunately, many stones have been cleared to make maintenance "easier" .
There have been some recent accounts of this on the list.
So it is very much trial and error as to whether the headstones remain - a
posting about a particular cemetery may help you.

John Henley
HILL [Staffs/Cambs/Berks]

-----Original Message-----
From: Garnet McConney Date: 27 October 1999 3:14Subject: Burial versus

>Can anyone give me some idea of the "post-death" customs of the last
>What percentage of people would have been cremated versus buried? Would
>this have been influenced by region of the country (ie England vs Scotland)
>or religious persuasion?
>Of those who would have been buried how likely would it have been that they
>would have had a headstone? Did one have to be quite well off to afford a
>headstone or was it considered something that one tried to make sure was
>provided for?
>I guess what I am getting at is, of all the people who died, how likely
>would it be 100 years later to actually find them in a cemetary with a
>Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. >Thanks very much>Fiona in

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