Grave Matters – Number 2 – Winter 2017/18

Welcome to the second edition of Grave Matters, the newsletter for those indexing the Burial Registers of the Glasgow Necropolis and other interested Friends.

Many years ago when I started work on the Necropolis’s Burial Registers curiosity made me draw up a graph of annual burials in the cemetery. Below is a new version which illustrates a number of interesting points. The most striking fact is how short a time the Necropolis flourished. By 1866, when burials peaked at 1548 that year, almost half the burials to take place in the Necropolis’s 160 years lifetime had already occurred. The decline in numbers after 1866 was very steep and by 1875 burials had dropped below 400 per annum and never recovered. Sixty years later burials were below 200 per annum and by 1950 they were below 100 per annum. In the last year for which I have figures (1995) there were only 9.

Necropolis Burials Graph

Necropolis Burials

One of the most interesting pieces of information found in the early Burial Registers is the cause of death of the deceased person. There was no obligation to record it but it is found in the Burial Registers until the end of 1854, ceasing when civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started, in Scotland, on 1st January 1855. The causes of death given in the Burial Registers have not been certified by medical practitioners unlike those on modern death certificates and some of them may seem rather odd to us. Sometimes a symptom like ‘fever’ is given as the cause of death.

Infantry Barracks Gallowgate

Infantry Barracks Gallowgate

Many of the common infectious diseases are to be found, cholera, measles, hooping cough (note the spelling), scarlet fever, typhus, typhus fever, and many, but by no means all, victims are children. Between 26th January and 22nd March 1834 there was an outbreak of measles in the married quarters of the Infantry Barracks in the Gallowgate during which ten children died. The ages of the children ranged from 6 months to 13 years most being under five. The first death was that of Martha Clark, daughter of Sergeant James Clark of the 82nd Regiment of Foot. In the next fortnight two of Martha’s sisters died and one brother, all from measles. All four were buried in the Single Grave Delta 1 which was in use at that time. Later in February Private James Rynalds, also 82nd Foot, and his wife lost two daughters in the outbreak.

Many deaths were ascribed to hydrocephalus (also known as water in the head). The vast majority of deaths occur in infants under 5 years of age which suggests hydrocephalus had been present since birth and was, in fact, the result of complications during birth. On the other hand the small number of adults diagnosed with hydrocephalus may have suffered some sort of head injury. Childbirth was a dangerous time for mothers and children as is shown by the number of times puerperal fever, childbed or childbirth occurs in the records; the youngest mother was 19 and the oldest 41. Sometimes the child survived and sometimes not – many stillbirths and premature births are recorded. Alexander Grosart and his wife suffered three still births in 1872, 1873 and 1874 respectively; James Anderson, baker and his wife suffered two still births in February and September 1837 and


there are other examples of couples losing multiple pregnancies. Premature birth was particularly dangerous for twins; David Law and his wife lost twin daughters at 2 days in 1846 and Archibald Watson and his wife’s twin daughters only survived for one and two days respectively in 1837. The Watson twins are named as Jane and Elizabeth but the Law daughters are unnamed in the burial register. I wonder whether this implies Jane and Elizabeth had been hurriedly baptised before their premature deaths and the Law girls had not.

In Grave Matters No 1 I mentioned that one of the burials from 1842 added to the database was that of a still born son of Mr Schwabe in the Jews’ Burial Ground (Alpha 1). It turned out that Mr M H Schwabe had already buried three children in the preceding years (1836-1838). On further investigation a Schwabe stone was discovered in compartment Epsilon. Unfortunately this stone is very badly eroded and the transcribers from the Glasgow & West of Scotland FHS were unable to obtain any information from it. It may be that they were working from a photograph of the stone and it would probably be useful to examine the actual stone to see if anything can be made out. The whole stone seems to have been inscribed including the base.

Schwabe Lair

Schwabe Lair

Checking the index to the burial registers the records of three burials in Epsilon lair 84 were found: Rudolph H Schwabe, 31, buried 26 Jan 1860, Hermann L Schwabe, 74, buried 26 June 1874 and Auguste B Schwabe, 83, buried 18 June 1883. As Schwabe is such an uncommon name in Glasgow it proved easy to trace in the Glasgow Post Office directories, the census schedules, newspapers and the records of births, marriages and deaths. H L Schwabe and his wife and children were easily identified but M H Schwabe was more of a problem. There was a firm of merchants in Glasgow called M H Schwabe & Gobert of which H L Schwabe was a partner. Legal notices relating to the partnership identify M H Schwabe as Marcus Hertz Schwabe, a pillar of the Jewish community in Hamburg where he died in 1862 at nearly 100 years old. I have not found any evidence to show he resided in Glasgow in the late 1830s and fathered the children buried in the Jews’ Burial Ground when he would have been in his 70s. I think it more likely that the children who died between 1836 and 1842 were children of H L Schwabe and his wife Auguste but some confusion arose between the initials of the father and the name of his firm when the entries were made in the burial registers. When Mrs Schwabe died in 1883 the following was published in the Glasgow Herald:

THE Late Mrs H. L. SCHWABE — The grave closed yesterday in our Necropolis over the mortal remains of a lady who some years ago occupied a prominent position in this city on account of her benevolence and of the interest she took in all that was good and noble. Mrs H. L. Schwabe about fifty years ago, was one of the first German ladies who left her native country with her husband to settle in Glasgow. By her high character, refined manners, and agreeable presence, she soon won the esteem of all who became acquainted with her, and her home circle was soon increased by men and women of intellect and position. Her house became the centre to which her countrymen were attracted, and an introduction to which was a voucher for their respectability and intelligence, but it was also open for any one who required advice or a helping band for any good purpose. She gave where she could, but not only with her hands, her heart was in her work, and no fatigue was too much for her in carrying out her good intentions. She was an active promoter of several educational and benevolent institutions. She took an active interest in the Queen’s College for the Education of Young Ladies, and, assisted by the late Mr Robt. Dalglish, Mr Walter Crum, and other leading citizens, she established a public nursery, likely the first of its kind in Glasgow, where little children could be left under proper care while their mothers were employed in warehouses and works. After the death of her much-beloved husband, who had seconded her in her noble efforts, she removed to Edinburgh, where her daughters follow the good example set by their parents. The eldest is the wife of Lord MacLaren and the younger one one of the secretaries of the Society for the Higher Education of Women. Mrs Schwabe will long be remembered by all who knew her as one who not only aspired to higher aims, but also inspired others with the same feeling. The funeral service was conducted by the Rev. Dr Crosskey, of Birmingham.

Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Tuesday, June 19, 1883; Issue 146.

One of the indexers is working on the later burial registers from the 1950s onwards and there are some interesting points of contrast with the earlier registers. Firstly, as mentioned above, the number of burials each year is very much reduced even though new lairs are still being sold in the 1960s. Secondly the vast majority of those buried are aged over 50 and so far no children or teenagers have been buried, and thirdly those between the ages of 20 and 50 are made up almost entirely of the victims of the Cheapside and Kilbirnie Street fires in 1960 and 1972 respectively. The type of information given in the modern registers is somewhat different from the earlier ones. It is nearly always impossible to tell whether a woman is married or not as ‘Mrs’ is not used as a prefix and husbands are not identified as happened in the nineteenth century. Another loss is that no occupations are given for the men. The major change is that addresses are now recorded and I recognised quite a few from the Springburn/Townhead area – Glebe Street, Grafton Square, John Knox Street, Edgefauld Road, Bedlay Street, Onslow Drive are just a few. There are addresses too from outside the city like Bearsden, Clarkston, Newton Mearns and further afield to Ayr, Largs, Helensburgh and even Bexhill-on-Sea and Bournemouth.

Anyone who would like to help with this indexing project is very welcome to join us by contacting me at

Grave Matters – Number 1 –   Autumn 2017

Five Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis are now engaged in the massive task of indexing the burial registers from 1842 to 1995 (eventually). This covers approximately 1700 pages and comprises approximately 48000 names. In the first month (October) c220 records have either been added from scratch or expanded.

It seemed to me that it might be interesting to mention some of the discoveries that are already being made and discuss a few of the queries that have been raised as the indexers familiarise themselves with the task ahead.

One of the most striking things about the early burial registers is the number of burials which occurred in Single Graves, more usually referred to elsewhere as common graves. In the early years of the Necropolis roughly two thirds of interments were in Single Graves. Between 1833 and 1842 this means that 2625 out of 3878 persons were buried in single Graves and, as a result, are not commemorated on a grave stone. It will be very interesting to see what the final total for burials in Single Graves is by the time they are phased out in 1872. I wonder whether the final figure might be 8000 – 9000 but whatever it turns out to be it is so important to remember that none of these persons have any sort of commemorative stone in the Necropolis and are completely overlooked by visitors to the cemetery.  In fact we are not even sure where the Single Graves are. We know, from the burial registers, that there are Single Graves in most of the early compartments opened in the Necropolis but we don’t know exactly where. Two years ago the Friends managed to raise money which allowed some geophysical surveys to be carried out within the most likely areas but the results were inconclusive and we are no further forward.


The entrance to the Egyptian Vault in 2013 after renovation

The entrance to the Egyptian Vault in 2013 after renovation

Amongst the interments that occurred in 1842 was that of Major Archibald Douglas Monteath on 21st June 1842. This page is very faint and certain details have been redone in a different hand so it is definite that Major Archie was buried in Upsilon 2; but the Egyptian Vault is also recorded as his place of burial. This was a vault used for the temporary storage of coffins until a permanent place of burial had been prepared which sometimes involved excavations and/or building work. Major Archie was unmarried and had more money than sense. He left £5000 for the construction of his monument and has bequeathed to us the Monteath Mausoleum one of the most iconic monuments in the Necropolis.



The Monteath Mausoleum

The Monteath Mausoleum

Another entry found was for the 17th burial, the stillborn son of Mr Schwabe, in what is described as the Jews Ground (also numbered Alpha 1). The Jewish community in Glasgow purchased a piece of ground in the Necropolis from the Merchants’ House and the first entry in the burial register, on 12th September 1832, is that of Joseph Levi, jeweller in Alpha 1.

Jewish Burial Ground

Jewish Burial Ground

In 2015 funds were obtained for the renovation of the Jewish Burial Ground and a memorial stone to the 57 persons buried there was unveiled (below).

Jewish Burial Ground - memorial stone

Jewish Burial Ground – memorial stone

I myself am not transcribing the burial registers in the same manner as the rest of the volunteers. Instead I am making use of my access to the registers to try and fill in some gaps that exist in the database. I have been aware for many years that when the original Wellington Street UP Church was sold and demolished the bodies buried in the crypt were removed to the Necropolis and reburied in a large plot in compartment Alpha. It turns out that the burial registers record the number of coffins from Wellington Street Church reburied in each of 120 new graves within Alpha 85 in the Necropolis in 1879. I calculate that a minimum of 708 bodies were removed and reinterred. None of these people are identifiable unless a stone was subsequently erected on the new grave which named them. In a small number of cases burials continued in these graves but this soon ceased.


Compartment Alpha, Lair 85

Compartment Alpha, Lair 85

Written by Morag T Fyfe, Historical and Genealogical Researcher Friends of Glasgow Necropolis

The Bishop’s view

We are publishing a poem written by Michelle Wray after her inspiring visit to the Glasgow Necropolis

The Bishop’s view

As I gaze through the Bishop’s window.
Victorian grandeur descends into disrepair.
In the mist, falling leaves temper morning’s air.

Over the Bridge of Sighs
Chaffinches rise and fall in undulating flight.
Cathedral spires glow in autumn’s gilded light.

To the west lies the crag and tail.
Down by the Drygate, seek the Druids trail.
Among the elm and willows, the silent rest on earthen pillows.

Why only the living, swarm upon the city of the dead.
A placid angel bows its immortal head.

Michelle Wray

Chinese Translation

We’ve added a Chinese translation to the History section of our website.

Thanks to Chi Kam for translating this for us and for translating on the Tour of the Glasgow Necropolis for the delegation from Dalian, China, one of Glasgow’s twin cities – and one of the first.

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis calls out for votes to bag a share of bag charge fund

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis is bidding to bag a massive cash boost from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative.

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £5,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from the 5p bag levy – being awarded to local community projects. greenspace scotland is working with Groundwork to provide support to communities in Scotland. 

Three groups in every Tesco region have been shortlisted to receive the cash award and shoppers are being invited to head along to Tesco stores to vote for who they think should take away the top grant.

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis is one of the groups on the shortlist and are raising funds for path improvements within the Glasgow Necropolis.

Voting is open in stores throughout March and April. Customers will cast their vote using a token given to them at the check-out in store each time they shop.

Tesco’s Bags of Help project has already delivered over £27 million to more than 3,500 projects up and down the UK. Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups every time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions will be awarded funding.

Tony McElroy, Tesco’s Head of Communications in Scotland, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to open the voting for March and April. There are some fantastic projects on the shortlists and we can’t wait to see them come to life in hundreds of communities.”

Emma Halliday, Community Enabler Coordinator at greenspace scotland, said:

“We’ve been thrilled to see the diversity of projects that have applied for funding, ranging from outdoor classrooms, sports facilities, community gardens, play areas and everything in between.

“We’re looking forward to learning the results of the customer vote and then supporting each group to bring their project to life.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit



·        The Bags of Help initiative is supported by money from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags in Tesco stores.

·        So far Bags of Help has awarded over £27 million to more than 3,500 local community projects.

·        For more information please visit:


List of stores taking part:




Society of Architectural Historians Annual International Conference in Glasgow

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis are proud to partner with the Society of Architectural Historians for the SAH 2017 Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, June 7–11. All who share a passion for the history of the built environment are invited to take part in the conference’s paper sessions, roundtables, architecture tours, SAH Glasgow Seminar and more! Register at

The Society of Architectural Historians will host its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from June 7–11, 2017. This is the first time that SAH has met outside North America in over 40 years! Meeting in Scotland’s largest city, world renowned for its outstanding architectural heritage, reflects the increasingly international scope of the Society and its conference. Architectural historians, art historians, architects, museum professionals and preservationists from around the world will convene to share new research on the history of the built environment. The Glasgow conference will include 36 paper sessions, eight round tables, an introductory address and plenary talk, 33 architecture tours, the SAH Glasgow Seminar, and more.

Event Details

Society of Architectural Historians

2017 Annual International Conference

June 7-11 | Glasgow, Scotland

University of Strathclyde, Technology & Innovation Centre


Society of Architectural Historians

Society of Architectural Historians



Remembrance Sunday – First World War Tour

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis will be undertaking a tour on Remembrance Sunday (13th November between 1pm and 3pm)

Tour Guides, Annette Mullen and Scott Kerr, will take you on a tour of the Necropolis telling the stories of just some of the 155 people on our WW1 Roll of Honour who are either buried or commemorated within the Necropolis.

If you want to come along, and to avoid disappointment of the tour being fully booked, please book early by sending an e-mail to

Their Name Liveth For Evermore: Glasgow City Council’s First World War Project

On Friday 16th September 2016, we’ll be taking part a Diggin In event at Pollok Park.  The event starts at 11am.

This community event brings together people and organisations with an interest in the heritage of World War I, featuring:

  • displays and presentations showcasing the wide variety of WWI projects in Glasgow
  • a screening of the 1916 documentary film Battle of the Somme
  • exhibits, activities and living history demonstrations at the trenches
  • live music

For further information please visit:

This event is part of the DIGGING IN project – see

Doors Open Day Tours – Fully Booked

All of our Doors Open tours are fully booked but there are plenty of other tours available from now until Christmas.

Crowdfunding Appeal – Special Tour by Alexander Stoddard

Alexander Stoddart, internationally acclaimed Sculptor and the Patron of the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis is taking a tour of the Glasgow Necropolis this Saturday (27th August) at 3pm.

This is our final push for our Monteath Crowdfunding Appeal, and this extra special tour is being undertaken by Alexander Stoddart, who is doing so as our Patron to support this fundraising Appeal.This is a rare opportunity and we would encourage you, if possible, to be particularly generous with your donations.

Booking Information

Prior booking is essential
Please book by sending an e-mail to and put ‘Alexander Stoddart Tour’ in the subject.

To donate online please visit:

To donate by text:

TEXT : FOGN50 : followed by £ options – £1, £5, £10, £20, £30, £40, £50, £100 TO 70070

For example: ‘FOGN50 £5’ to donate £5. If you wish to Gift Aid your donation please REPLY to the Gift Aid text.

To donate by cheque:

Please download and complete this form

Alternatively donations can simply be made on the day of the tour

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