Finding a Headstone

Finding Walter Taylor’s headstone and MI

This page is about finding where a relative is buried. To read about visiting a cemetery, go HERE.

A post recently appeared on Facebook from a group member keen to locate the grave of her grandparents. I had been meaning to put together a suggested method for locating memorials, so here it is. I do not guarantee that it will work!

I will try to track down a random name and date and assume that I want to find the grave of Walter Taylor who died in 1890 in Northamptonshire. I invented this name but FreeBMD shows that a death of a person with that name was registered in December 1890: Taylor Walter 43 Hardingstone 3b 22.

These are some steps I would take if this were a relative of mine: I may insert steps later and site visitors may suggest more! [Postscript: now that I have completed this page, if I had remembered that I owned a copy of the Hardingstone MIs, I would have picked a different random name!]

  1. Start with some obvious steps such as asking surviving relatives and descendants if a grave location is known. If you have a location you may wish to skip forward a few steps.
  2. Perhaps obtain the death certificate (DC)
  3. Look in newspapers for Obituaries (many are online)
  4. Using the DC and census results discover where he lived as it is likely – but not certain – that he was buried nearby.
  5. Search some of the websites on THIS PAGE. Remember to use search years such as 1889 to 1891 because he may have died late in 1890 but been buried in 1891.
  6. Find a Grave [7 Taylor results no matches] but see later!
  7. Billion Graves [1 Taylor result for the UK]
  8. Deceased online [6 Taylor results no matches]
  9. Historic Graves,, Society of Genealogists, Gravestone Photographic Resource all gave 0 results
  10. The National Burial Index (on FMP) did not give me a result. This was a surprise since quite  a lot of Northamptonshire burials are listed on FMP. I have found that some Hardingstone burials are on FMP but not all.
  11. FamilySearch gave 39,573 results before refining my search, and 181 upon entering Northamptonshire: the top hit is the one I want. This agrees with FreeBMD; both sites tell me that he was 43 so born in about 1847. FamilySearch also gives this result if I plug in more data.
  12. At this point I went onto Ancestry and started a tree for Walter only to discover that there are several which include him.
  13. It is always worth looking for a Will. Walter did make one, and the Probate record (on Ancestry) tells me that he lived in New Althorp Street Far Cotton which is less that 3 miles away from Hardingstone. At this point I have discovered that his dates are 20 Jan 1847 to 23 Nov 1890. [As I have also found his marriage certificate I have parked in the back of my mind that his wife was associated with Pitsford (Northants). If I am unable to find Walter’s grave it may be worth looking for Annie’s (he married Annie Arthur in 1871)]
  14. Having found a likely burial location (see earlier steps) it is worth finding the website for the local family history society. I would then see if I could obtain an MI booklet for the cemetery in which I am interested. Some societies (for example, Peterborough and Cambridgeshire ) allow you to do a name search to see if the person you seek is mentioned in their archives.
  15. In Walter’s case the local society is I happen to know that NFHS publishes very many MI booklets and – as luck would have it – I do own the Hardingstone booklet (this was a total fluke and didn’t influence my random choice of Walter Taylor). It turns out that he is buried, with his mother, to the West of the church.
  16. MI searching does not always go as easily as this. Sometimes a grave is not marked even if you know which cemetery or churchyard it is in. Some of my relations were cremated and their ashes scattered to the wind: hence, there is no headstone or inscription.
  17. I have one relative who died in the Workhouse but it is not known what happened to his remains. I can guess at the cemetery in which he might be buried, but if he was in the Workhouse it is possible that his family could not have afforded a headstone. This is not always the case. Sometimes there is a headstone as in the case of Mary Ann Gill of Coates who, at the age of 70, died in Workhouse Infirmary, Whittlesey on 3rd April 1919: she was buried on April 7th according to church records.
  18. Large Council Cemeteries usually have records as to who is buried in them and where. You can often get the exact burial location, whether it is marked or not, just by emailing the cemetery office. If you decide to visit it, the office can usually give you directions to the location of the burial, or provide you with a map so you can find it on your own. Some cemeteries allow you to do an online search such as  or

Here is Walter’s Headstone in a photo taken by me in 2013. For some reason this did not get uploaded to FindaGrave which is why step 6 failed. I also found a good image on Ancestry which the owner has kindly given me permission to use. (Click to enlarge)

The Inscription reads:

In affectionate memory of ELIZABETH STARMER COSFORD TAYLOR who died May 20th 1885 aged 82 years. “Her toils are past, her work is done, And she is fully blest, She’s fought the fight, the victory won, And entered into rest.” Also of WALTER, son of the above, who died Nov. 23 1890 aged 43 years. “His end was peace.” (Footstone) E. S. C. T. 1885 W. T. 1890


As I clearly needed to find where Walter’s wife Annie is buried I continued with this quest on Sunday evening. By the time I logged into Ancestry, the scans of the Hardingstone Burial Registers had appeared as a hint on the tree I had created there.

It turns out that she too is buried at Hardingstone but the Northamtonshire MI booklet does not list her, so one can only presume that the grave was not marked, is now illegible or was somehow missed (it can happen). The registers record the following (this is a facsimile of the entries which are of different pages:


Some links to give you more ideas (for as long as these links work): (which seems to lead to a different page)

London Cemeteries


Video Page