Sheffield Flood Remembrance Plaque

In memory of the 27 unidentified victims of the Sheffield Flood, 11th March 1864, who were buried in unmarked public graves. Of the unidentified people, 16 were children. There are 68 Flood victims buried here in the Cemetery.

One of the most distressing parts of the days following the Sheffield Flood on 11th March 1864, was the recovery of the bodies of people who died. They were strewn around in the sea of mud, most of them naked, many broken and disfigured. Over the next two days, 156 bodies were recovered. Others were not found until two months later and some never recovered at all.

Those whose identity was not known, were taken to the Workhouse where they were washed and laid out in five rooms in closely packed rows. They were laid on straw and covered by a sheet. Large numbers of people who had lost their relations or friends visited the Workhouse and were shown into the rooms where the bodies lay. In some cases, though, identification was not possible due to the horrific injuries suffered.

There was only a short period for the bodies to be identified as most of the burials took place on 14th and 15th March.

When identified, the bodies were given up to the relatives or friends of the deceased if they were able to pay the funeral expenses. It may be that the relatives of the some of the unidentified people had also been killed in the Flood so the bodies of 27 of the poor and unidentified victims were interred by the Board of Guardians, at the expense of the Sheffield Union here in Sheffield General Cemetery. These burials were in public graves which were owned by the General Cemetery Company and allocated for the burial of unrelated individuals who did not have the means to buy a private burial plot.

The burials took place in different graves to avoid there being a mass burial. The last burial was in August of a man’s body found embedded in a sand bank in an advanced state of decomposition.

In total, there were 68 Flood victims buried in the General Cemetery with six in family graves, 27 unidentified in unmarked public graves and 35 in unmarked public graves.

As public graves are unmarked these unidentified Flood victims have not been memorialised until now.