4,508 burials at Sedgefield St. Edmund the Bishop in Stockton district, covering 1855-1926. This register may well solve mysteries for many researchers who were previously unable to trace the deaths and/or burials of ancestors in various parts of the county – they were actually patients at the County Lunatic Asylum at Winterton near Sedgefield who lived out their last years there and were buried locally.
The ancient graveyard at St. Edmund the Bishop in Sedgefield had served the village for countless centuries and there would otherwise have been no real need for additional burial space by 1855, for there is no coal underneath this part of County Durham and therefore none of the consequent flood of newcomers which threatened to overwhelm other parts of the county, especially the graveyards. However, under the provisions of the 1808 and 1853 Pauper Lunatics Acts, the County Justices purchased land at Winterton on the edge of Sedgefield village in 1855 and the asylum was opened on April 13, 1858. The first burial from the asylum was registered in the St. Edmund register on September 3 of that year. It soon became obvious that the graveyard would not be able to cope with the resultant flow of corpses from the asylum, and a new cemetery was opened in Beacon Lane on January 5, 1862, though funeral services were still held at the parish church and entered in its burial registers. From 1862-64 and again from 1876-80 the burial registers indicate that the actual burial place was Beacon Lane Cemetery rather than the ancient graveyard. The burial place was not indicated in other years, but we assume that the graveyard was actually full and the vast majority of burials until 1909 took place at Beacon Lane Cemetery. On October 3, 1884, the asylum’s own church, St. Luke’s, was consecrated by the Bishop of Durham, and its own graveyard became operational in October 1891. A note in the St. Edmund burial register entry for a Jane Marshall on October 27, 1891 stated that ‘this was the last funeral from the County Lunatic Asylum to be held here’ but there were in fact a few stragglers over the next30 years, probably patients with a Sedgefield connection. After 1891, there is a separate burial register for St. Luke’s which Durham Records Online has yet to transcribe and which will cover all patient burials until the closure of the asylum in 1996.
By 1908 Beacon Lane cemetery was almost full, so another new burial ground, Sedgefield Cemetery, in Butterwick Road, was opened in 1909. This too has its own registers which have not yet been transcribed by Durham Records Online. Once the asylum had its own burial ground (1891) and the new Sedgefield Cemetery opened in 1909, the number of entries in the St. Edmund registers dropped away until there were only one or two a year in the 1920s.
The St. Edmund burial registers also covered most interments at its chapel-of-ease at St. Mary’s in Embleton. The services took place at St. Edmund and the burials at St. Mary. Some other interesting entries in the St. Edmund burial registers were several instances of people with aliases who turned out to have had their deaths registered by the GRO twice, under both names.
Residences mentioned besides Sedgefield in this register include Amerston Hall, Asylum Cottages, Beacon Hill, Bishop Middleham, Bradbury, Breckon Hill, Brakes, Bridge House, Butterwick, Chilton, Cole Hill, Cornforth, Cote Nook, Coxhoe, Crowdy Hall, Darlington, Donnewell, East Close, Elwick, Embleton, Fishburn, Foxton, Glower O’er Him, Hardwick Hall and Lodge, Hartlepool, High Swainston, Hogg’s House, Holdforth, Hole House, Horse Shoe House, Layton, Lizards, Low Hardwick, Low Swainston, Middle Swainston, Middlesbrough, Mordon, Murton, Norton, Old Acres, Redcar House, Ryall, Sands, Sedgefield Station, Shotton, South Moor, Spennymoor, Stockton, Stillington, Trimdon, West Hartlepool, Weterton, Wingate, Wolviston, Wynyard Cottages, and Yarm.
- 19 Jan 1855 Elizabeth Younghusband, of Fishburn, age: 79
- 5 Jan 1862 Henry Carr, of Sedgefield, age: 78, buried at Beacon Lane Cemetery
[Note: This was the first admission to the new cemetery in Beacon Lane.]
- 5 Feb 1862 Jeremiah James, of [abode blank], age: 45, buried at Beacon Lane Cemetery, died at Sedgefield Union Workhouse.
- 11 Oct 1871 Thomas Tinkler, of Cowley House, Sedgefield, age: 71
- 27 Mar 1874 John Stanley otherwise Arthur Healer, of [abode blank], age: 43
[Note: This death seems to have been registered twice, as John Stanley and Arthur Healer.]
- 31 Mar 1880 William McAtomney, of [abode blank], age: 30, buried at Beacon Lane Cemetery, died at the County Lunatic Asylum, Winterton, near Sedgefield.
- 4 Aug 1881 George Boland, of Wolviston, age: 87, buried at Embleton
- 24 May 1897 Mabel Bee, of [abode blank], age: 22, died at the County Lunatic Asylum, Winterton, near Sedgefield. Funeral service conducted by the chaplain of the County Lunatic Asylum
- 5 Apr 1909 Christopher Wall Giles, of Sedgefield, age: 55, Church Warden & Organist
- 14 Dec 1926 Thomas Stamper, of Sedgefield North End, age: 88