Scottish Government Consultation on Burials and Cemeteries

I received notification today that the Scottish Government is currently undertaking a public consultation on issues connected with burials, cremations and the management of cemeteries. If you have Scottish ancestry, as I do, then you might be interested in reading the consultation paper.


Gravestone of James Hadden and family, St. Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen, Scotland

The government in Scotland is looking to “modernized” the legislation that governs burials and cremations while also addressing some related issues. There certainly seems to be a solid case for the need of updated legislation as the current Burial Act was enacted in 1855. The Cremation Act came into effect in 1902 and has been updated occasionally through regulatory changes as recent as 2003. It seems the government would also like to leave room for future funeral technologies such as resomation and promession.

It was common practice that a grave plot, or lair as it would be referred to in Scotland, was purchased by family members in perpetuity for the burial (or disposal) of the bodies of loved ones. The family was typically responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery plot. With the passage of time, however, the maintenance of the cemetery plot was often abandoned by the family as members moved away from the area over several generations. With the current added pressure of limited cemetery space, the government is looking at the practice of reusing cemetery plots.

The reuse of cemetery plots is not new and the consultation paper states that the practice is used in Germany, Sweden, Italy and Greece. The paper further cites the case of the City of London (England) Cemetery and Crematorium where about 1,000 graves have been reused.

The Scottish Government is proposing to discontinue the sale of cemetery plots in perpetuity and rather, provide for the ‘lease’ of a cemetery plot for a period of 25 years with further 10 year extensions to the lease allowed. The goal of this approach would be to ensure that a family member was taking responsibility for the plot’s maintenance. It is also proposed that cemetery plots be reused in cases where the last burial in the plot was at least 75 ago and the owner of the plot cannot be traced. Prior to reuse, a cemetery would be required to advertise it’s plan to reuse the plot through various media including the Internet for a period of twelve months. If a family member objected to the reuse, the family member would need to be prepared to assume plot maintenance responsibility.

In circumstances when a plot is reused, the original gravestone or memorial marker would remain, maintained by the cemetery owner, but a new memorial marker would be allowed on the plot for the new burial(s). Rules are also proposed for a “dig and deeper” approach to plot reuse that would involve exhumation of remains, placement of the remains in a “new container” and re-burial of the container at a deeper depth to allow new burials.

What might be of interest to genealogists is the question of how long burial and cremation records should be kept? The government already encourages the use of electronic records but asks the question about how long they should be required to be maintained. Do they need to be maintained in perpetuity or is 50 years long enough?

The consultation runs until April 24th, 2015 and I would encourage everyone, especially those with Scottish ancestry to read the consultation paper and provide input. And, I need to start thinking about what I would do if they ever want to reuse my 4X great grandfather James Hadden’s final resting place (pictured above)!

Hadden – Where Alexander Got His Bean

Alexander Bean Hadden is my 3X great grandfather and I recently was asked by Hadden cousins to share my ‘theory’ on where his middle name of Bean came from, so here is what I think is a reasonable conclusion in the absence of any contradictory evidence.

The odd thing about Alexander is that he was commonly known with a middle name of Bean however, I have found no records in which his name is recorded as Alexander Bean Hadden. Records simply provide his name as Alexander Hadden.

Below is a list of the records in which I have found Alexander:

  • Alexander Hadden christening record (O.P.R. 249/0020 0079 Udny)
  • 1841 Census of Scotland (Census 1841 225/00 002/00 007)
  • 1851 Census of Scotland (Census 1851 225/00 011/00 011)
  • Marriage registration for Alexander Hadden and Mary Smart (Statutory Marriages 223/00 0008)
  • 1861 Census of Scotland (Census 1861 097/00 009/00 005)
  • 1864 birth registration for daughter Mary Hadden (Statutory Births 173/00 0066)
  • 1866 birth registration for son John Hadden (Statutory Births certificate 3919892 CE)
  • 1867 birth registration for daughter Ann Hadden (Statutory Births 173/00 0045)
  • 1871 Census of Scotland (Census 1871 234/00 001/00 010)
  • 1881 Census of Scotland (Census 1881 203/00 004/00 013)
  • Marriage registration for Alexander Hadden and Ann Fraser (Statutory Marriages 207/00 0007)
  • 1891 Census of Scotland (Census 1891 203/00 004/00 013)
  • 1911 Census of Scotland (Census 1911 168/01 005/00 005)
  • 1914 death registration for Alexander Hadden (Statutory Deaths 168/03 0167)

As can be noted, I have yet to find Alexander in the 1901 Census of Scotland. The hunt for that record is still in progress.

So Alexander in all of those records is simply record by the name Alexander Hadden. No Bean name is recorded nor is there a middle initial of ‘B’ used. So where could Alexander have received the middle name of Bean by which he seems to have become commonly known by, but unrecorded? Evidence that he was known by Alexander Bean Hadden is found, for example, in his daughter Mary, naming her first son, Alexander Bean Hadden Wright,  after him.

My theory is based on Alexander’s baptismal registration from 1836, shown below:

HADDEN Alexander

(Note: I apologize for the small size of the image but I’m still getting used to the new blog platform!)

The names of the witnesses to the baptism of the infant Alexander were a man named Alexander Bean and a second man named Alexander Smith. I imagine that Alexander Hadden’s parents James Hadden and Mary Smart chose these men carefully for their first, and as it turns out only known son. So my theory is simple: Alexander Hadden was called Alexander Bean Hadden, his middle name being ‘adopted’ in honour of his godfather Alexander Bean. Further, in Scottish naming tradition, Alexander as the first son would have been named William, after his father James’ father. As it happens William was also the name of Alexander’s mother’s father. But William wasn’t used and instead James and Mary Hadden named their first son after someone who must have been very close to them but as far as I know not related by blood nor marriage.

So that’s my ‘story’ and I’m sticking to it, that is, until evidence presents itself that causes me to have to re-think the issue of ‘Bean.’