Manchester General Cemetery has three burial sections Non Conformist, Consecrated and Unconsecrated.
The Non Conformist grounds were consecrated in 1837 by Chaplains and Ministers of the Baptist, Independents and Wesleyan's and Church of England ground was consecrated in 1848.
Land that is unconsecrated has not been declared to be sacred, an act of blessing is called consecration, from the Latin sacrare, or "dedicate." Unconsecrated land has not been dedicated or imbued with holiness
Depending on the Cemetery’s terms for the length of the lease on the plot, the grave maybe re-sold if not used after a few decades or the lease has ended and has not been renewed. (Private Cemeteries have their own lease arrangements) We have not come across any actual leases or terms of leases for the Manchester General Cemetery, but their funeral receipts do show a few Regulations:
A Grave Note to be produced by the person giving an order for the re-opening of a Vault or Family Grave, and the dues to be paid at the same time.
A Registrar’s Certificate requires when the order is given or at the time of internment, without fail.
Orders for the opening of Graves to be given, at the latest, early the day before that of Internment.
The friends of the deceased, if they prefer it, may bring their own Minister to perform the Funeral Service. Notice of such intention to be given when the order for the Funeral is received.
5. A Gravestone to be laid on the Grave within twelve months or the Grave will be forfeited.
The cost of the Stone and Lettering to be paid when ordered.
No Monument or Gravestone admitted but those furnished on the ground, nor any Lettering, Gilding, Cleaning or Painting, to be executed by other masons that the one employed at the Cemetery.
No orders received on the Sabbath Day.
Adverts have appeared in the newspapers of graves being resold, some with previous interments and gravestones.
The ownership of the cemetery land remains with the Council. The Deed of 'Exclusive Right of Burial' is issued for a set period of time, from the 1940s this was for 50 years in Manchester and still is to date.
MGC Family Vaults
MGC Single Vault
Entrance Vault Stones
Burial pits in Churchyards and cemeteries near to residential homes is what brought about the 'Burials Act.' Pits could be as large as two hundred interments. The Manchester General Cemetery had burial pits before the 1850’s, they were about 11 feet deep and they could be kept open for about 3 months. There was usually no gravestone for pits the area was just grassed over. Whilst the term 'paupers' grave was never officially used this is what these pits were used for.
Common/Public graves held six to twelve bodies, sometimes up to fifteen adults. Burial registers show that there were many more, and as many as six stillborns and young children were placed with adult females. Coffins were piled in a single row one over the other, double plots held many more. After the coffin is lowered soil from anywhere from a couple of inches to 6 inches is thrown in to cover the last coffin. The opening of the grave is covered with boards or a wooden roof which is locked down until the grave is used again.
The Manchester Guardians purchased a plot area to bury those that died in the workhouses or that couldn't afford a public grave. In 1847 the charges for interments were: Adults & others 4s. each / Children above 2 yrs & under 10yrs 3d. 6I. /2yrs & under 1s. 6I. The Guardians burials were charged at 1 shilling less than burials of poor persons who were able to pay their own dues;
These graves appeared in the cemetery in the 1850's, it allowed those who could afford the guinea to be buried in a shared marked grave with unrelated persons, avoiding the shame of lying in a pauper or public unmarked grave. We have located these graves in the cemetery and some of the gravestones are still in situ.
Vaults were the most expensive burial plots to be purchased in the Cemetery apart from the Catacombs.
Originally Catacombs were available for purchase in the Manchester General Cemetery, but were never used and so removed. An advertisement in a Newspaper in regards to charges does show catacombs were no longer available by 1854.
Vaults were graves which were lined with a brick wall built to prevent water reaching the interments and could hold as many as 12 persons in a family vault. 1st class Family Vaults were the equivalent of two vaults and had access to the vault via a slab stone/s in front of the vault, normally with the name of the family upon it. A Family Vault had a gravestone at the head of the grave so access to the vault was like a standard grave, though it would have a slab stone placed on top.
Consecrated Ground 1849 Charges 1854 Charges
1st Class Family Vault & 1st interment £15, 5 s. £16, 16 s.
Family Vault & 1st interment £13, 13 s. £12, 12 s.
Un-consecrated Ground 1849 Charges 1854 Charges
1st Class Family Vault & 1st interment £13, 0 s. £16, 0 s.
Family Vault & 1st interment £12, 12 s. £12, 0 s.
The largest vault in the General was that of Salis Schwabe it was equivalent to twenty grave plots, the next was Dilworth Vault at ten graves plots, followed by Hurst and Entwisle at seven grave plots each and Smith and Howarth at five grave plots each. The majority being between two and four grave plots.