June 3rd, 1862 – Grave Yard Riot!


Wardsend Cemetery is an abandoned Victorian cemetery in the Owlerton district of Sheffield, England, consecrated by the Archbishop of York in 1859 and closed to legal burial in 1968. The ground on which the cemetery stands was originally purchased by John Livesey in 1857, the Vicar of the nearby St. Philip’s Church as an overspill burial ground.

The first burial at Wardsend was of a 2-year-old girl named Ann Marie Marsden in 1857. She is, in keeping with tradition, the ‘Guardian of the Cemetery.’

Since its loss of status as a legal burial ground Sheffield City Council have done little to maintain the cemetery and it has fallen into neglect, save for the efforts of a conservation group the Friends of Wardsend Cemetery, who along with offering guided walks of the site, aim to cull the Japanese knotweed that has overgrown the area.

Wardsend Cemetery 680

Wardsend Cemetery in the Owlerton area of Sheffield, England.

On the evening of June 3rd, 1862 the cemetery was the location of a turbulent 3000-strong riot by angry Sheffield citizens, against accusations that the Reverend John Livesey and his sexton Isaac Howard were neglecting to bury corpses, and instead selling them to the city’s medical school for use in anatomical dissection. The rumors were proven false and Livesey and Howard were instead fined by York Assizes for reusing graves in order to save space. However both were later paid compensation for the damage caused to their property during the riot, and Livesey was reinstated as the Vicar of St. Philip’s Church.

A memorial stone at the nearby Walled Garden in Hillsborough Park alludes to the unrest; it is a stone four feet long by 18 inches wide, designed to lie flat on the ground and cover a grave. The inscription reads:

To the affectionate rememberance of Frank Bacon.

Who departed this life April 2nd 1854, aged three years.

Also Louis Bacon aged four months

Buried in Wardsend Cemetery April 12th 1858.

And was one of the many found in 1862.

Who had been so ruthlessly disinterred.


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