Cemetery is Mine of Information for all Genealogists

CEMETERIES can be a mine of information for genealogists claims SAUL MARKS. And he should know because for the past few years he’s been restoring Liverpool’s Deane Road Cemetery.

Saul, guest speaker at a meeting of the Leeds Jewish Genealogical Society, was project manager for the cemetery’s recent transformation. He gave some 40 people at Leeds’ Sinai Synagogue a potted history of the early years of the Liverpool Jewish Community.

The Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation sited its burial ground in the former rural area of Kensington. The burial of Henry Hiams, a member of the congregation, was the first one to take place there in 1837. By the beginning of the 20th century the cemetery was becoming full with registers showing more than 1,700 burials.

“Out of this number,” Saul said, “some 900 were children. There were many still births or babies buried in unmarked graves and the congregation was forced to look for another site.”

After 1904 only those with reserved plots were buried there, the last burial taking place in 1929. Over the years the cemetery became overgrown with plants and trees and succumbed to neglect and dilapidation.

“This became a target for vandals and a convenient place for fly tipping,” he added. “Although several restoration projects were discussed and discarded it wasn’t until 2003 that things got underway. With help from the Groundwork Trust it became a community project, with volunteers from local churches, those on probation and youth offender teams all drawn in to assist with clearing the site. Some gravestones were re-erected, repaired and in some cases replaced.”

Through his work as a genealogist Saul has been able to trace descendants of some of those buried at Deane Road. He has also been contacted by people researching their family trees who were looking for the last resting place of ancestors.

“Many of them have been more than happy to make donations to help with the restoration of specific stones or the project as a whole,” he said. “It is hoped that in the future the cemetery will be added to the Liverpool Heritage Trail.”