Parish Registers are a vital source for family historians, providing the facts of names and dates for milestone events in our ancestors’ lives. However they can also offer the local historian a wider view of the times they record. The following is a transcript of burials on one page of the Parish Registers for Shingham:
♦ Mary, daughter of Robert & Catherine Reader, buried 28th January 1767 [Robert & Catherine were married in 1762 and so presumably their daughter was aged under 5 years].
♦ A poor travelling woman, found dead after the snow, name unknown, buried 10th February 1767
♦ Thomas Towler, his wife Mary, late Bird, buried 24th December 1778
♦ Hannah & William Towler, children of the said Thomas & Mary, buried January 8th 1779
♦ A poor man, found dead in an outhouse, name unknown, buried December 1784
♦ An infant the child of Anne Bone named & buried the [date missing]
♦ Thomas, an infant, the Child of Anne Bone, buried 25th October 1785
♦ Charles Constable, married man aged 60 was buried 4th March 1789
♦ Ann Dalton Davy, Illegitimate aged 4 weeks buried April 11th, a Pauper
♦ Sarah Davy Mother of this infant buried April 14th aged 17, a Pauper
♦ Henry Rudling, son of Richard and Ann Rudling, aged 2 years buried March the 7th 1790
This extract is a wretched catalogue of poverty and child death. It is difficult to imagine Christmas 1778 for the Towler family: both parents buried on Christmas Eve, and two of their children a few days later.
Not many old gravestones remain today in Shingham churchyard. The unfortunates listed above would have had no substantial markers for their final resting place.
The Parish Registers for Shingham 1708 – 1837 have been transcribed and published by the Norfolk & Norwich Genealogical Society.