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Contribution received from Colin Ashworth (

During the period of over 200 years from the middle of the sixteenth century until the late eighteenth century, when the practice of the Roman Catholic faith was illegal in what is now the United Kingdom, Catholics had no churches and no official burial grounds. Even well into the nineteenth century this was the case. Many Catholics were buried in the local Anglican churchyard as there was frequently nowhere else. This can make finding burials difficult for family historians looking for the graves of Catholics or even just a record of their deaths. It was quite common for parish incumbents who were thorough in their work to indicate the religious affiliation of the deceased in their burial registers. The Catholic Family History Society ( has now launched a database of such burials. This can be accessed from the website It uses Google Sheets and so the data can be manipulated and searched or downloaded for that purpose. The society hopes that family historians who notice Catholic, Papist or Recusant burials in the course of their research will be able to submit their findings in one of the several ways explained on the ‘Contribute’ tab on the website.

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