Saturday, 19 December 2015

Bromley Kent Sexton's burial records

I have spent a pleasant month transcribing nearly 3,500 individual entries in the 1838-1866 parish burial records kept by two successive sextons of the parish. I look forward to 2016 when I will transcribe entries in the earlier sexton's book which form part of the parish records held at Bromley Archives when I have fulfilled the agreement with Bromley Archives to complete Bromley Poor Law Union Lunatics registers.
The volume has a curious treatment at Bromley Archives. The front cover of the bound volume has a biro addition (those of nervous disposition be warned of the image) "Dunn's" and the cover has been incorporated in the present binding with the erroneous title "Dunn's Record of burials 1838-1866".
An accompanying catalogue entry at the time of my transcription describes the volume as Dunns Unofficial register of burials.

The confusion about the parish sextons accounts of burials arose when these parish register volumes transferred to the London Borough of Bromley.

I have handled and transcribed sextons records in parishes in other counties since my work as transcriber in 1968. Sexton's record the date of burial and record which plot was used for each individual burial. In the Bromley parish the grave is chosen by measuring from a prominent existing grave and establishing when new ground is opened the distance to an existing grave. The entry indicates whether the burial is in the North,South, East or West part of the churchyard and refers to walls paths and trees as grave locators. Burial in the Catacomb or in vaults beneath the church floor are also recorded.
What caused the original confusion for the Bromley Catalogue entry? The two sextons who record entries in this volume are Edward Dunn Senior and his son Edward Dunn Junior who succeeds his father and has assisted him for some months prior to his death. This continuity of Dunn family members continues the lengthy service of John Dunn as Bromley Parish Clerk. My blog about the controversial apointment of Edward Dunn as sexton and his description of his duties is here.
The great bonus for the searcher of this sexton's record lie in the knowledge of the population of Bromley of Edward Dunn and his biographical detail of individuals recording cause of death and place of death or burial outside the parish. The Father and son literally knew the people of Bromley of all faithsand in their entries record detail of the population of Bromley. The entries for other faiths including sudden deaths in Methodist "Chappell" demonstrate the growth of the town. Also valuable are the burial details of those of other nationality . I am happy to bring this genealogical relationship detail to the Bromley page of Kent Online Parish Clerks website as a companion not only to the parish register burial transcripts but also the funeral accounts of Dunn as funeral directors for a significant proportion of burials.The gap in lost funeral account is filled by the sexton records for these years.
The cutting of railway lines and the temporary habitations of "excavators" and "navvies" and their families a large group of gypsy and traveller families and the year of transition from the parish poor House to the Bromley Poor Law Union at Locksbottom are all included; significant changes in the district will now be available online for the first time as well as assisting those in the Archives to make searches for individuals.
The causes of death and some significant relationships will form the remaining blogs this year.
© Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015