The Escutcheon

Volume 9

Number 3 – Easter Term, 2004

A Database for a Churchyard

Harold Hopkins

I started out originally to try and make a database for the churchyard, so that I could access information readily whenever relatives called and wanted to know about their forebears, but it ended up in fact as a database of not only their dates of death but of births, marriages, etc. I wanted to have all the information on one line across a landscape A4 page.

The first field is for the surnames plus a comma and christian names. Field two is for the register number. Here I had a problem because I had a lot of Bishop’s transcripts which did not have register numbers recorded. I did a quick count of the transcripts and found that there were 2376 names involved. So from the first of the Bishop’s transcripts at 1599, I started with 0001 and continued through to 2376. Then for the old register, the one before our current one, the numbers went from 3000 to 3800. Then 4000 upwards for our current register. As is always the case one learns about names that have been omitted from the registers for some reason or other and here I have decided to add a suffix ‘X’ to indicate that it was ‘ex’ or not in the register.

The third field is for the date of death, this is something which is now being recorded but wasnt done in all churches before 1990 so one can only get such info from memorials and relatives. The fourth field is the date of burial here one has to be careful of the old calendar when dealing with the months January to March. The fifth field is for the memorial inscription number and this is followed by the sixth field which is for the buried with register number.

Then field number seven is for the age, and this in turn is followed by the date of birth and then field eight is for date of baptism. Field 10 is for the names of parents or remarks, while field 11 is for date of marriage. Finally the 12th field is for the spouse/maiden name. Thus we end up with a complete historical span about those who are in our churchyard. Because I have the advantage over most researchers in that I have personal photocopies of all the transcripts and registers from 1599 up to the present day. I can use them to work out and check for dates of baptism/birth and even marriages.

As far as the churchyard is concerned I keep a running transcript of all the entries, as it helps to prevent relatives being deposited in the wrong grave. It is also essential to keep a record of whether a grave is a double or not. One grave that was recorded as a double actually has three people in it with the top most person, just two feet from the surface. A concrete slab was put on top the prevent any problems, then it was grassed over. The delight about doing it on a database and including a register number sequence, means that I can enter any date group whenever I like and get the database in date order by sorting of the register numbers. When the database is complete, printed copies will be made available to interested bodies.

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