The Burial Laws Amendment Act of 1800 and strategies of evasion in rural North Yorkshire

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The passage of the Burial Laws Amendment Act signalled the parliamentary victory of long-standing agitation to remove the Dissenters’ burial grievance. The Act meant that it became possible for funerals to be taken in Church of England churchyards by ministers not ordained by the Church of England, and not using the Anglican burial service. Objection to the Act had been sustained and bitter, as the Act had signalled a more profound intent: to configure the churchyard as ‘national’ property and disestablish the Church of England. Given the strength of feeling in the matter, the implementation of the Act was sometimes subject to petty acts of obstruction by local clergy. This paper considers more substantive strategies of evasion undertaken by large landowners who had donated land for use as churchyards, and reviews cemetery development in the North Yorkshire market towns of Helmsley, Hovingham and Pickering. This narrative indicates the continued strength of feeling attached to the consecration of burial space, well into the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-130
Number of pages17
JournalNorthern History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Burial
  • Churchyard
  • Nonconformity
  • Yorkshire
  • Cemetery

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