The Society of Genealogists
Boyd's London Burials 1538-1872
This dataset, completed by Percival Boyd in 1934, is an index to some 243,000 of the burials in the London area 1538-1872. The entries were restricted 'as far as possible' to burials of adult males, and give the first name, last name, year of death and the burial ground. Where the age at death was given in the original records Boyd recorded this, but only a small proportion of the records contain the age.Search Boyd's London Burials now
Boyd commented: 'Those who use this index are warned that it must be treated as a 'lucky dip', if you find what you want, well and good; if you don't, you have searched nothing.' He means, of course, that in those pre-internet days, you had not spent hours if not days trawling through un-indexed burial records in remote cemeteries.
The reason for its compilation is implied in an article that appeared in an introductory article in the Genealogists' Magazine March 1935 in which Boyd suggests that:
'Only males are included (children being omitted when so designated in the registers), because for genealogical purposes the date of a man's death is more important than that of a woman who, unless she were sole [a spinster] or a widow, could not make a will except with the consent of her husband.'
The original index was 'made with the co-operation of the College of Arms' and includes a collection of 87 volumes of extracts of parish registers copied and nearly all indexed by the American genealogist, Colonel Joseph Lemuel Chester (1821-1882) deposited at the college. The Chester Collection at the College of Arms is briefly described on page 46 of Anthony Wagner's The records and collections of the College of Arms.
Boyd's London Burial Index coverage is strongest for the parishes in the cities of London and Westminster and south and east Middlesex. There are three parishes south of the Thames in what was Surrey (Bermondsey, Camberwell and Clapham) and four from north Kent (Deptford, Greenwich Hospital, Lee and Lewisham). Finally, East Ham and Little Ilford in what was then Essex are included.
Boyd initially intended the period covered to encompass the years 1538-1853. Why 1853? Because burials in the inner London churchyards and burial grounds, such as Bunhill Fields, were discontinued for health reasons at various dates in the 1850s and no further burial registers were maintained. In fact, many parishes in the index are only represented by burials up to 1754, 1812 or 1837 and some are even earlier than this. On the other hand, two go some way beyond the cut-off date: Twickenham to 1872 and St. Paul's Cathedral to 1871.
Many of the burials included are only extractions from the registers. No children under the age of 12 have been knowingly included nor women over this age. In some cases the sex of the deceased may have been uncertain from the information given in the register. After an extensive search, only one burial has been identified that may have been for a woman: in 1643 the index states that a 'Dian Wine' was buried at St. Margaret, Westminster. The printed transcript of the register in the library gives the full date but spells the first name as 'Dyan'. It is possible that this was a man baptised Dionis or Dionysius, rather than Diane or Diana. When in doubt, the entry was apparently included just in case.
Like the marriage index, the London burials give a minimum of information: year of burial, name of deceased, title, if any, such as Captain, Rev, Sir, Mr, and the parish where buried. Records can be searched by first name, last name, year of burial, county and parish.
Here you can see a sample Boyd's London burial record - click on the image to enlarge it:
In Boyd's London Burials, common first names are nearly always abbreviated, e.g., JN for John or THO for Thomas. View a list of first name abbreviations (PDF). These abbreviations are not always used, first names may be in full or different abbreviations used. If searching for a first name, try the abbreviation first, and if not successful use the full first name.
Boyd used a few last name spelling conventions, although not consistently, particularly for records after 1800. Variations in last name spellings should be looked at in detail. Conventions include:
Initial letters: to find last names with the initial letters in the left column below, try searching on last names beginning with the corresponding letter in the right column:
|Looking for||Search for names starting|
|TH* (H silent)||T|
* Spellings are generally 'normal' for records after 1800.
Silent final e is ignored: There are some anomalies, e.g., AIRE, but generally, if a last name exists with a variant which has an e on the end (such as COOKE), try dropping the e (enter COOK), e.g., enter CLARK instead of CLARKE and GREEN instead of GREENE, etc.
Double letters as single: e.g., WILSON will appear but not WILLSON. This may be confusing, since BENNETT and KELLETT do appear. Try the alternatives: if you don't find a spelling where there is a double consonant, try using a single.
X sometimes replaces cks: e.g., HIX not HICKS, COXON not COCKSON. But BRACKS, BROCKSHAW, BRUCKS, JACKSLEY, JACKSON, STOCKS are all present. Try both alternatives if you don't find the person you were looking for.
Ch sometimes replaces tch: e.g., HUCHINSON for HUTCHINSON, but BUTCHER, CATCHER appear. If you don't find a last name containing tch, try dropping the t.
I and y: where a name containing i has a variant with y, e.g., Bird and Byrd, y is used at the end of the name and i in the middle: e.g., GILES not GYLES, SMITH not SMYTH.
Last syllable: Names of more than one syllable are treated with some freedom:
- An, en, in, on, un
- Ar, er, or
- Field, field, feld
- Bourn, born, burn
- Wood, wode, ward
- Bridge, brig
- Ey, ye, y, ie
- El, al, ell, all, ale, le
- Ford, forth
- Son, sonn, sone, sonne, etc