Topic: Still-born Children in Linwood Cemetery

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A brief article about the burial of still born children in Linwood Cemetery.

In the past when a couple had a still-born child, it was believed that if the mother had any connection with the baby it would make the grieving period longer and harder.  The father, of course, was not allowed in the delivery room in those days even when this was usually at home.  The dead child would be put in an enamel bucket, covered with a cloth and removed from the room immediately.   "Out of sight was out of mind".  The parents were encouraged to forget it, move on and have another child as soon as possible.

The attitude was that because the baby had never breathed, it was nothing — “Get over it. It wasn’t alive, so you haven’t really lost anything,” [1]

It was common practice for the still-born baby to be put at the foot of a grave in the cemetery that was waiting to be filled in. If the birth had been in a hospital, it may have been put in the coffin of someone who had recently died. Shelley Jenkins, former Cemeteries Administrator, informed us that Block 0 Plot 0 refers to "...common ground and unidentifiable. The still-born baby could be buried under a bush, at the end of a row of graves or more commonly in Linwood, under the hedge that was around the Sextons house."  This was also confirmed to us by former Sexton Eddie Bieher.

The burial would not be discussed with the parents and the exact location not recorded - the entry in the Burial book usually being Block 0 Plot 0 with the name STILLBORN.  Where there is a family name listed it is as STILLBORN child of Mrs (Family Name) but not always in the Family Name field.

To identify those in the cemetery that are still-born children we can do only limited filtered searches on the CCC Library Cemetery Database, the majority of still-born children being buried in Block 0 Plot 0.

Only a Geotec survey of the land would be able to identify where such burials are and no remains would be able to be correctly identified without DNA testing.

In addition to those in Block 0 Plot 0, a search in the CCC Database for 'stillborn' and 'baby' in both the Family and First Names Fields shows us
First Name : STILLBORN = Total 1427 (which includes those in Block 0, Plot 0)
Family Name : UNKNOWN = Total 7 (that are not in Block 0 Plot 0)
So we can say that there are at least 1,434 stillborn children buried in Linwood Cemetery, none of which are in Block 38 Plots 1-6 (which states it was a small area in a Catholic Block for the burial of "Still Borns and Suicides") a misnomer that the Trust endeavours to correct at every opportunity.

Today the burial of a still-born child is more acceptabe and remains and ashes have been buried by families in the Quarter Plots area of Linwood Cemtery.

It can be harsh for families looking for a stillborn child who was buried between 1884 and around the 1930s in Linwood Cemetery.  We hope there is some comfort in them knowing that the child is "safely tucked in" in Linwood Cemetery and that the Friends very much include and respect them within our unofficial role as guardians of the cemetery.

[1] Daily Mail UK

© Friends of Linwood Cemetery Charitable Trust

Released by Alexandra on 11 January 2017. Reviewed 26th August 2018.

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Still-born Children in Linwood Cemetery

Previous name :Corporation Cemetery
Suburb :Bromley