Dedicated to all the stillborn babies buried in this Cemetery. Many of whom are interred in the Lower Catacombs.
The Cemetery records show that 10,506 stillborn babies were buried in the Sheffield General Cemetery. Only a handful of these babies have names and very few were recorded in the Cemetery’s Burial Records. Fortunately, stillbirths were noted in the Cemetery’s Day Book between 1855 to 1955 so the Trust has been able to compile a list of stillbirth interments. Most of these babies were interred in public graves which were plots owned by the Sheffield General Cemetery Company.
From the end of 1900, the Lower Catacombs were used as public graves and between then and 1955, 2,629 stillborn babies were interred in these Catacombs. In this same period, there were another 2,689 stillbirths interred where no grave was recorded, so these are also likely to have been buried in the Lower Catacombs. There were also 1,969 other burials in these public graves.
The births and deaths of stillborn babies were not recorded on the general Birth and Death Registers. Following an Act of Parliament in 1926, a separate Register of Stillbirths was compiled. Unlike the Birth and Death Registers, though, this is not open to the public. In the period when the Cemetery was open, stillborn babies would rarely have a ceremony when they were interred and often parents would not know where their baby had been buried. About a quarter of these babies came to the Cemetery from Jessop’s Hospital.
Stillbirth could result from the mother having poor health and inadequate nutrition, affecting the baby’s development. Some of these mothers had limited or no access to adequate healthcare during pregnancy and birth.
The Sheffield General Cemetery Trust list has the date of interment, the mother’s name, their last residence (often a hospital) and sometimes details of the father and his occupation. For many of these babies the grave number is known but not for all. Please contact the Burial Research team for assistance if you wish to access this information.
Sands.org.uk provides support and tracing services for those affected by stillbirth.
Please note that research is ongoing and therefore further investigation into the records may see figures revised. The information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of publication. (December 2023)