Monumental Inscriptions

MI’s as they are known are gravestone or tomb inscriptions and can sometimes provide invaluable family name information.

monumental inscriptions

You first need to know the location and parish that your family were living in during the period that you’re researching. If this is within travelling distance it’s well worth a visit to look among the cemetery gravestones. In fact, often this is the only recourse that you have, as depending on the size and history of the parish (or jurisdiction area) and the period you are looking for, there may not be any written records of who was buried where. This can be especially problematic if the graveyard is particularly old because even if there are written records, they may not be very accurate as internments often took place on top of existing ones when space became used up. Bear in mind also that cemeteries aren’t always next to, or surrounding the church.

Some graveyards have been relocated due to space restrictions but will usually be found not to distant from the church. If travelling to the location is out of the question and there are no apparent written or online records available, try contacting the family history society for the area and ask if they know of anyone who will do a search for you. Sometimes this can be arranged for a small fee, or even for doing a reciprocal search for someone who wishes to find information from your area.

Some family history societies do have copies of churchyard records and there are also individuals who are recording gravestone inscriptions for posterity before they are completely obliterated by exposure to the elements or worn away by having been walked over many times (if let into a church floor).

In the UK, The Federation of Family History Societies has produced the National Burial Index. Although it doesn’t include monumental Inscriptions of death registration details, it does contain over 18 million names and includes the following information:

Forename & surnames
Date of burial (from 1538 – 2008)
Details of place where the event was recorded; pre-1832 county
The recording society, group or individual

The index is in software form and can be purchased from this link:

You may also be interested in visiting:
This is a family history site dedicated to monumental inscriptions and burial records.
There are other records of monumental inscriptions available online. Enter the parish name, or the name of the church followed by the parish name then “monumental inscriptions” (without quotes) into a search engine. If nothing is returned, try the relevant county family history society online. If they don’t appear to have anything either it’s still always worth contacting them as they may know of the whereabouts of any records.