St John's Burial Registers
The burial registers from 1835 to 2004 have been transcribed and the transcriptions can be searched on this site. The original registers are deposited at Chester Records Office, and are NOT held by the parish. You may find transcriptions or original records availiable at local libraries or on some genealogy websites, but the transcriptions on this website are probably the most complete set available online.
There were no burials at St John's before 1835, and only 17 took place before 1837. Bollington was within Prestbury parish and before St John's was built many local people would have been buried at St Peter's Prestbury (parish records from 1560 can be found on microfilm at Macclesfield library and elsewhere). Other possible burial locations included St Christopher Pott Shrigley (from 1650) and Holy Trinity Rainow (from 1815).
The burial registers will normally provide a person's name, abode, date of burial and age at death. The abode may not be very specific (eg Bollington). Other detail may be provided such as location of death (eg Macclesfield Infirmary), but will not normally give any details about next of kin. In most cases the burial register does NOT provide a precise indication of whereabouts in the churchyard the deceased was buried. In a significant number of cases, interments of cremated remains (ashes) have NOT been recorded in the burial registers.
The registers record the date of burial; occasionally the date of death is also given. If the date of death is available from other sources (usually memorial inscriptions), this information has been added to the transcription. In the case of a full burial (ie NOT interment of ashes), it is reasonable to suppose that the death occurred soon before burial (typically 2-5 days). However, the remains of someone who has been cremated may not be buried until several months or even years later. The registers generally indicate if an entry refers to interment of ashes rather than a full burial, but it is possible that this indication might have sometimes been omitted. In some cases the date of death recorded on a memorial is the same as the date of burial recorded in the registers. Although possible, this is unlikely to be correct; in such cases the date is probably the burial date.
Unless indicated otherwise in the burial register, it can be assumed that if a person is named in the burial register their remains are interred somewhere in the churchyard or columbarium. If a person's name does not appear in the burial register, it is almost* certain that they did not have a "full burial", but it is possible that their cremated remains were interred somewhere in the churchyard or columbarium [*there is one case where twin children are named on a memorial, but only one of the two is named in the burial register].
There are evidently some mistakes in the original registers (including some missing details and one page of entries repeated with slightly different details) and there are examples of differences between the burial registers and details from other sources. Where register details are suspect, notes have been added to the transcription. There may, of course, be other mistakes that have not been noticed.
The burial register entries are generally more or less in chronological order, with two exceptions:
- Following the Burial Laws Amendment Act of 1880, burials could be carried out by people other than Church of England clergy, but the law required that these were notified to the Vicar and recorded in the registers. In some cases, a number of CofE funerals occurred and were recorded before other burials were "notified".
- There have evidently been a few occasions where the registers have been "brought up-to-date" and the relevant records entered in the register some time after the funerals concerned.
Where possible, the search results will include the relevant memorial inscription along with the burial register details.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the parish records do NOT indicate how many people have been buried in any particular grave, nor how much room may be available for further interments. The parish cannot advise whether additional interments are possible in any particular burial plot; it is necessary to consult a funeral director who can arrange the required investigations.
The first burials in the churchyard were in 1835. The churchyard was closed in 2004 (but some burials can still be made in an existing grave if there is sufficient space left in the plot).
There are approximately 2,000 burial plots in the churchyard and over 7,000 burials. About half the burial plots have memorials (often called gravestones). It is important to understand that the inscription on a gravestone does not necessarily represent a list of names of people buried in that particular grave. It is reasonable to suppose that at least one of the named persons is buried there, but:
- a person may be named on the memorial, but buried elsewhere (or have no known grave)
- a person may be named on more than one gravestone
- a person may be buried in the grave, but not be named on the gravestone
- the first person listed on a memorial is not necessarily the first person buried in the grave
Examples of all these cases can be found at St John's churchyard. This is why it is safer to think of gravestones as "memorials". The vast majority of the memorials at St John's bear the words "In memory of..." or something similar. Only in the (rare) case of an inscription reading "Here lies the body of..." can you be sure that the person named was buried in that grave.
Nevertheless, memorial inscriptions can provide useful information about dates of death (and sometimes dates of birth) as well as details of other family members. But, be warned, there are some mistakes on some inscriptions!
The memorial inscriptions were surveyed in 1985-86 by the "Macclesfield Ferrets" and this survey formed the basis of the current database. The memorials have been surveyed again in 2011-2012 and many inscriptions added to the record. Mistakes found in the original survey have been corrected. Some inscriptions recorded in the earlier survey are now no longer visible or accessible; in such cases the earlier survey results have been used.
The memorial inscriptions can be searched (or browsed) on this site.
The columbarium at St John's was opened in 1953 for the interment of cremated remains, also known as ashes. Cremation had been a legal option for several decades by then, but it was not until the 1950's that cremation started to become more common, although full burial was still the norm at that time. Stockport Crematorium dates from 1934 and Macclesfield Crematorium from 1960. Before the opening of the columbarium, ashes could only be interred at St John's in burial plots. The earliest interment of ashes recorded in St John's burial registers is in 1937; there are only five other such interments recorded prior to 1953.
The memorial inscriptions in the columbarium do not normally give more than the person's name and birth/death years. Many are double stones, generally for husband and wife to be commemorated together. A number of double stones only have one person's details inscribed, with a blank space left for a future inscription.
In most (but not all) cases, the person named on a memorial in the columbarium has had their ashes buried in the columbarium.
Work is currently in hand to extend the columbarium to provide additional space for burial of ashes. Further announcements will be made about this at a later date.
The memorial inscriptions may be searched on this site (but as interments of ashes are still ongoing, some recent interments may not be included in search results).
Search or Browse
To consult the records you can Search the collections which include burial registers, churchyard memorials, and columbarium memorials OR Browse through the list of surnames appearing on churchyard memorials, or through the inscriptions on these memorials. Some names only appear in one of these three collections. The burial registers form by far the largest collection, so a Search is best started with these.
- Search Burial Registers
- Search Churchyard Memorials
- Search Columbarium Memorials
- Browse Churchyard Memorial Surnames
- Browse Churchyard Memorial Inscriptions