Find your ancestors in Yorkshire burial records

What can these records tell me?

There are over 5 million records from Anglican parishes across the three historic Yorkshire counties as well as records from Quaker, Roman Catholic, and Methodist parishes and municipal cemeteries. You can search the records from several Yorkshire archives and family history societies in what will become a comprehensive collection of parish records.

Each record contains a transcript and many include an image of the original record. The information contained can vary but you could find out the following about your ancestor:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Sex
  • Denomination
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Residence
  • Death year
  • Burial year
  • Burial date
  • Burial place
  • Dedication
  • Relationship
  • Memorial reference


Situated in north England, Yorkshire is the largest British county. Yorkshire was divided into three ridings: North, West, and East. The word riding came into Old English from the Old Norse word þriðjungr, meaning a third part.

There has been a human settlement in Yorkshire since Neolithic times. Under Roman rule, the fortified city of Eboracum (now York) was the joint capital of Roman Britain. Before the introduction of civil registration in 1837, Church of England parishes recorded the bulk of births, marriages, and deaths. The Church of England mandated the keeping of records in all its parishes from 1537 with the earliest records generally starting in 1538. Early registers recorded all events in a single book but after 1774 separate registers were needed for marriages and marriage banns.

History of cemeteries

From around the 7th century, burial in Europe was under the control of the Church and could only be carried out on consecrated church ground. From the early 19th century, however, the burial of the dead in graveyards (burial grounds within churchyards) began to fall out of favour. This was due to several factors: rapid population growth in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution continued outbreaks of infectious disease near graveyards, and the increasingly restricted space in graveyards for new interment.

The introduction of cemeteries in Britain was driven by both public health concerns and a growing desire from a portion of the population to have non-denominational burial place. The Metropolitan Burial Act of 1852 legislated for the establishment of the first national system of government-funded municipal cemeteries across Britain, paving the way for an enormous expansion of burial facilities throughout the 19th century.

In the 19th century, urban burial grounds were viewed as public open spaces and were thus professionally designed to be attractive places to visit in their own right. Those hired to design public parks were often employed to design these new cemeteries.

Stoney Royd Cemetery

One of the cemeteries included in this collection is the Stoney Royd Cemetery, the largest municipal graveyard in Calderdale (Halifax & District, West Yorkshire), containing over 40,000 graves. The records here show the full entry for every person buried there from 1861 to 1960.

Most of the headings are self-explanatory, but one or two need a little extra explanation:

  • Heading “Public” – where an entry is marked “Public” it means that the local authority paid for the grave & therefore owns it. Graves not marked “Public” have been paid for by individual families who are responsible for its upkeep.
  • Heading “Grave No.” – This is in 3 parts – 1 upper case alpha character, 1 or more numeric digits & 1 lower case character.
  • Upper case alpha character represents the Section of the Graveyard – from A to Z. The exact location of each section can be seen from the plan insert link here.
  • Numeric digits represent the grave no. within the Section, from 1 upwards.
  • The lower case character - a, b, c or d – represent the block within the Section – “a” being the nearest to the adjacent path (& therefore the most accessible & expensive), “b” the next nearest, through to “d” the block furthest from the path (and the least expensive).
  • Heading “Burial Ground” – This indicates whether or not the grave is in an area of Consecrated Ground or Unconsecrated. Later graves do not have this distinction, but earlier ones meant that only Anglican graves were put into the Consecrated area, all other denominations going into Unconsecrated.
  • Heading “Denomination” – this indicates, where known, the denomination, or office, of the person conducting the burial service – this is likely to be the same as the denomination of the deceased person.
  • Heading “Repository” – this is the address where the original documents for these burial records are held. If you wish to see an image of the actual grave entry, write to the address given here, quoting the Entry no., Grave no., Burial date & name of deceased and you will be sent an image of the relevant pages. There may be a charge for this service.