This is the fifth of six blog posts, written and published over six consecutive days, looking at some of the family graves that my wife and I visited as part of a recent road trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. You can read the earlier instalments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
The other five stones are all in churchyards (actually one of them was inside the church) but today’s stone is to be found in a large municipal cemetery.
In 1866, the Macclesfield Municipal Borough set aside 68 acres of land to the north and west of the town to establish a public cemetery. Like many Victorian cemeteries, it was designed as a place of leisure and relaxation and it’s still a popular destination for an afternoon stroll today. The cemetery also attracts hundreds of visitors every year from all over the world, who come to see the grave of Ian Curtis, the former Joy Division singer, who was cremated at Macclesfield Crematorium following his death by suicide in 1980.
My wife and I had first visited the cemetery nearly 40 years ago but with no idea of where to look for possible family graves it was more an excuse for a stroll around a beautiful cemetery than a genuine attempt to carry out any sort of family history research.
This time we came properly perpared, having found references to two family plots (the Macclesfield Cemetery and Crematorium registers have recently been indexed and digitised by DeceasedOnline). The question was, were there any stones on the plots to commemorate my wife’s ancestors?
We had two targets to look for – one for the Hulme family and one for the Bullocks – which turned out be in neighbouring sections: G & H. To be honest, we didn’t hold out much hope of finding anything at the Hulme plot. My father-in-law’s paternal grandparents were not particularly well off and it didn’t seem likely that they or any of their children would have been able to afford to have a stone erected. The Bullocks were a (small) step up the social ladder presenting a greater cause for optimism.
We knew that the Hulme plot was in section G, number 6008. Of course, we had no idea where in section G we would find the plot and there were no helpful numbers engraved on the backs of any of the other stones that we could find to help steer us in the right direction.
So there we were, standing in Macclesfield Cemetery, in section G, finding names on the stones and looking them up on DeceasedOnline on our phones so that we could find out the plot numbers. Now why didn’t we think of doing that back in 1983!!??
We soon worked out that we were at the wrong end of the plot and gradually worked our way along until we found a grave which we knew, from its plot number, must be very close to the Hulme’s. The area we were in didn’t look too promising: there were very few stones around and those that we could see seemed a bit too recent … but then we turned into a new row, and there it was…
Lying on its back, its former base now lying partially on top of the stone itself, the whole thing had clearly seen better days. But it was there – and the text was fully legible:
LOVING MEMORY OF
DIED SEPT 5TH 1926: AGED 61 YEARS.
ALSO HANNAH THE BELOVED WIFE OF THE ABOVE
DIED SEPT. 24TH 1914: AGED 54 YEARS.
ALSO ISAAC HULME FATHER OF THE ABOVE
DIED AUGUST 19TH 1913: AGED 71 YEARS
As you’ll see from the first picture of the plot, there’s a much more modern flower vase next to the grave. It’s unengraved but it’s perhaps a clue to the fact that the grave was re-opened following John’s death in 1926 – twice. His two daughters, Harriet and Gertrude May (‘Aunty Gertie’), were buried in the family plot in 1956 and 1969 respectively. It’s nice to know that the two of them, who never married and lived together all of their lives, were reunited in death.
There’s another body in the grave which it seems appropriate to record here. On the same day that Isaac was buried (23 August 1913), and presumably as part of the same service, his great grandson, Arthur (the son of John’s son John Frederick – I hope you’re following this…) was also buried. Young Arthur had died the day after Isaac at just 14 days old.
For the record, we quickly found the grave of my wife’s Bullock great grandparents, Thomas and Maggie. The stone, as I would have expected, was in far better condition and had been opened for the burial of their grandson, Peter Kenneth Lovatt, as recently as 2009.
Returning to the Hulme gravestone, and returning to a recurring theme of these blog posts, the dates of death recorded for John and Hannah are wrong. John actually died on 25 September 1926 and Hannah on 5 September 1914. They somehow got them (almost) the wrong way round.
Remember, gravestones are NOT primary sources…
© David Annal, Lifelines Research, 6 May 2022