Burials in the Common Ground

My friend and history colleague Robert Stewart sent me this data after noticing a particular trend in Blantyre burials, following all the recent articles here relating to the 1910s.

Many of the articles recently posted were about improvements in Blantyre. Particularly in the years from 1908 – 1918, improvements in sewage and water systems, gas installations to heat homes, slum clearances and the building of better homes in many places throughout Blantyre saw a noticeable reduction in the amount of people being buried in the common ground in High Blantyre Cemetery.

From 206 burials in 1908 to 88 a decade later, improvements in living conditions saw a marked reduction in burials. Unfortunately many of the people buried in the common ground were children.

1908 for example demonstrates this well. Of the 206 people buried in these unmarked lairs that particular year, 26 were stillborn, a further 86 were under 1 year old and a further 50 were aged between 1 and 5. Infant mortality was rife but as the graph shows, in the following decade, a marked trend of reduced number of burials took place, more than halving.

We live in a time thankfully now with very low infant mortality, but hard hitting stats like this are a stark reminder of living conditions and the heartache that Blantyre families endured.

For those interested in this subject, Robert has compiled all the details of those in 1908, buried in the common ground. This can be downloaded here:

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