History of Burials in the Churchyard

Although burials had taken place for many centuries the earliest burial recorded was in the Parish Register begun in 1558, the first year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The entry is “Jhon Stringer XIXth November“.

However, until about the 17th Century grave-stones and coffins were not the norm. People were often buried directly in the ground without a coffin or a memorial marker, and subsequently moved when more space was required in the churchyard.

Gravestones were mostly in churches for the aristocracy or the very wealthy, and it wasn’t until 19th Century that they became desired by the majority. Yet often for the working classes, family savings did not run to the price of a grave, let alone a gravestone. Sometimes burials took place in a communal area, at the expense of the Parish.

In 1980 a survey was made of the remaining gravestones in the churchyard, 156 stones with 194 inscriptions were still standing, many more having disappeared. They were made of sandstone, marble and slate, the latter being the best preserved.

The earliest gravestone standing in 1980 was made of slate and was that of John Sharp, Yeoman, who died on 15 July 1783, aged 74 years, and his wife Ann, who died in 1819, aged 92 years  [Grave 116].

The notebooks were organised around hand-drawn sketch plans of the Churchyard, with each Grave numbered. This system will be used in this site – though readers should note that the number key used bears no reference to ‘official‘ church records.

The locations of these surviving graves can be accessed using the ” Mapping the Churchyard ” page, which will lead to maps of the various Sections of the area.

Many names on the memorials are those of more than a dozen families still living in the village, including the Cocks, Headlands, Reasts and Parkes.

The number of infant deaths was very high compared to today, some families lost several children as babies. Thomas and Jane Christian lost 3 young daughters in 10 years [see Graves 25 – 26]. Tom and Helen Wainer‘s two daughters died within 3 months of each other, Ann Mary aged 3 years and Elizabeth 3½ months [Grave 19].

One of the foremost and richest families of the village, the Pattinsons, have 25 family members buried in the Churchyard (and undoubtedly many more whose grave markers have been lost). In addition there are many other ‘Pattinson’ female family members buried under their married names. Of these 25 burials at least 17 are infant or child burials. William and Ann (née Cowlishaw) Pattinson had at least 18 children between 1861 and 1880, including a set of triplets. Of these children eight are buried in the Churchyard. Grave 91 (Grave of 22 year old John Pattinson) bears the inscription: “Two sons and six daughters who died in their infancy”. [Picture right]

….. about ‘The Pattinson Family’.

There are many other children’s graves with very poignant verses. One of the most moving inscriptions is on the grave of Anne Adlard who died in 1881 aged 34. She was the daughter of Samuel Pattinson.

Anne married John Adlard who came to be master of the new school in 1868; they lived in the new school house. They had two sons and both were baptized in the Church. However, 10 months old Francis Bennett Adlard was subsequently buried in the churchyard. [see Graves 79 & 80] The older boy, named Sam Robert, is commemorated on his mother‘s gravestone by the following inscription:



On the opening of the year 1872 a great number of trees and shrubs (raised by private subscription) were planted in the churchyard, streets and other places. On the 17th Jan. 1872 the Dowager Duchess of Winchilsea and her four children came and each planted a tree.

The above is an extract from the writings of Thomas Ogden (1804-1878) sometime Schoolmaster, Churchwarden etc. He also left a plan showing the names and sites of the trees planted by various individuals. Unfortunately only one of the trees planted by the Winchelsea family survives to this day; this is the large evergreen oak which dominates the churchyard [see below].

The tree was planted by H. Z. Finch Hatton, one of the three sons of the Countess, its botanical name is Quercus ilex, but it is commonly called the Holm oak. Holm oaks can live up to 250 years so several more generations should see and hopefully care for what is a very fine feature of the village.


[From: ‘In Days Gone By’ – Rev. S.F. Maurice Dauntsey (1950)]


The smaller of the two casket memorials in front of the tree commemorates Anne Adlard, and her son, Sam Robert Adlard, whose story is told above.tree

This fine specimen of Quercus ilex, the Holm Oak,  planted during the reign of Queen Victoria, has flourished through the times of four kings and two World Wars and is still growing sturdy and strong 65 years into the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.


In 1882 it was decided to purchase land in Sleaford Road for a new cemetery and this is still in use. One source records that “Hephzibah Ogden, the widow of Thomas Ogden, a man of many parts in 19th Century Ruskington, was the last person to be buried in the churchyard in 1883.” Hephzibah died on the 25th April 1883 and her funeral and interment was conducted by Rev. Arthur Myers two days later.

However, no grave can be found for her, neither in the Churchyard nor the Communal Cemetery. The Parish Register does bear the accompanying annotation “Last in Churchyard“. The next Parish Register entry is for 4 year old Lucy Arabella Robinson, the first to be buried in the new Ruskington Communal Cemetery on Sleaford Road, in Grave C.1., on 15 May 1883.

The last 4 months that the Churchyard was open for burial saw seven burials – according to the Parish Register. In addition to Hephzibah Ogden, Lucy Claricoates, who died in early February, is also not numbered among the surviving headstones.

The Last Burials in All Saints' Churchyard in 1883

The Last Burials in All Saints’ Churchyard in 1883

N.B. To locate these – or any other of the surviving headstone/graves in churchyard – go to the ” Mapping the Churchyard ” page. From there you can link to maps of different Sections (1 – 6) of the Churchyard to show where individual graves can be found.


Read more button grN.B. …. in 1950, by Rev. S.F. Maurice Dauntsey, Rector of the Parish, compiled a booklet: “IN DAYS GONE BY “,  looking at the History of the Church and some of the more notable characters of the Village. CLICK for a reprint of the booklet.



  • ‘The Parish of Ruskington’ – “A short report of a village study by J. Clarke, Mrs J. Chambers, M. Chambers, Miss U. Newton, D. Wood and Mrs R. Wood, under W.E.A. Tutor Mrs B. Hazlewood”. (Sponsored and published by the Sleaford branch of the Workers’ Educational Association.) page 6
  • In Days Gone By‘ – Rev. S.F. Maurice Dauntsey (1950)
  • “Life and Death in the 19th Century” – Judith Flanders (in BBC History Magazine, March 2024, pps. 68-71)

N.B. The full report (‘The Parish of Ruskington’) and a copy of Rev. Dauntsey’s booklet  can be read in Ruskington Community Library (Reference Section).