At the consecreation of the Church in 1815, provision was made by the Act of Parliament for baptisms, marriages and burials to be registered at the church by the Churchwardens and the records kept in the Vestry. In some of the earliest records we find the following entries of death from 'typhoid, a tumor, childbirth, old age, twins and even suicide'.
The Act of Parliament also showed that provision had to be made concerning Vaults for the parishioners. These were to be invested in the Trustees, who were authorised to sell the vaults and the money was to be divided on 25th March annually, amongst the Trustees and their administrators. Anyone who bought a vault or burial place had to provide, within six months, a grave-stone large enough to cover the vault.
The Act also stated that the North side of the cemetery which comprised one quarter of the whole plot was to be reserved for the burial of the poor who lived in Toxteth Park within one mile radius of the church. It was also laid down that no vault was ever to be placed in the body of the church and when coffins were sunk into the ground they were not to be less than two feet from the surface of the churchyard. The penalty for any Churchwarden who contravened this was ten pounds, and this was to be levied by “Distress”. This meant that the goods and chattels of the offender to the value of Ten pounds were confiscated and given to the poor of Toxteth Park.
The churchyard was restored in 1881 at an estimated cost of £250 towards which the owners of graves gave £155, the results of the effort of the Vicar’s Warden, Mr R M Cary. St. Michael’s Parish had no definite boundary until 1898 which accounts for the fact that names of people from all over Toxteth Park appear in the Parish records until the late 19th Century.
Burials recorded in the parish records in 1822 include the following:-
A popular name for the church was “The Mariner’s Church” due to the number of sailors buried there. Some of the profession in the registers include:- sail-maker, anchor-maker, rope-maker, shipwright. By the time of the Centenary of the Church the churchyard had been closed to burial for some time, the last burial being in an existing grave in August 1910.
One of the most interesting inscriptions can be found on “The Potter’s Grave” near the vestry door. This commemorates seven members of the Herculaneum Pottery which housed its workers within close proximity of St Michael’s.
We are in the process of compiling a record of the gravestones with their inscriptions; many are weathered and are difficult to read, some have been overturned during a refurbishment of the graveyard and no inscription is available. We have recorded about 125 headstones and their epitaphs.
We are always happy to help with enquiries wherever possible.
Lancashire Online Parish Clerk is a useful place to start with many records available online.
Another useful source is The Liverpool Record Office
Telephone: 0151 233 3069 or visit their website