Burial Records in Parish Registers

Burial Records give details regarding the burial place and burial date of the deceased, but do not state the actual death date.  This type of record is usually found in Parish Registers, some of these dating from 1538.  

Burial Records before 1813

Early entries in burial registers contained less information than those from later years. It was not uncommon for an entry in the register to simply state the person's name, and contain no more details at all apart from the date of burial.

Example of Brington Burial Register pre 1813

The above image is produced with permission from Northamptonshire Archives

The lack of information makes it difficult to ascertain if you have found the correct entry, especially in a parish where a particular surname is common.  

All right - I have found myself facing this exact situation. Does this mean I should just give up?

NO!!! There are still many things you are able to try... Did they leave a will?? Wills can contain a wealth of information that may help you decide if this is the entry for your ancestor or not.

Another thing you could try is to see if there is a headstone for this person - this may help you conclude if you have found the correct entry.  A headstone may contain much more information than that found in the burial register.

What happened if a child or a wife/widow died?

In earlier burial records if a child was buried it sometimes stated the father's name but the mother was not considered important enough to be mentioned.  In later registers, however, the mother's name began to be mentioned.

If a wife died it sometimes stated the husband's name, or if the husband was already deceased that she was a widow.

Sometimes you may find more detail was added, such as an age or their occupation.


Burial Records after 1813

After 1813 church burials were recorded in much more detail in a separate burial register. The deceased's abode was now recorded along with the age at death, which may help you to find the individual's baptism record. In earlier registers, however, the age at death was sometimes recorded incorrectly.

Example of Courteenhall Burial Register after 181

The above image is produced with permission from Northamptonshire Archives

The columns in the burial register:


  • Name of deceased
  • Abode
  • Burial Date
  • Age at death
  • By whom the ceremony was performed

If you find, when looking in a baptism register, two children share the same name, baptised around the same time, it is prudent to check if one of those children died in infancy. This could help you to ascertain which of the children is your ancestor. Sometimes, however, the parents' names are not mentioned.

It is often useful to look through newspapers for any possible obituary as this could reveal family members previously unknown to you and it may lead to you discovering more information about the life of the deceased.


Please also view my guides to parish registers in general, baptism records and marriage records.  You may also find much information is included on memorial inscriptions.