2004: locating graves in Abney Park Cemetery

The Cemetery which served the Tottenham Tile Kilns was Abney Park. This page shows what we found on our visit and - much more significantly - what was revealed in the documentation from the cemetery which accompanied the location maps.

Results from visiting Abney Park Cemetery

The grave of Daniel Cole in Abney Park Cemetery

Abney Park Cemetery is now designated as a nature reserve, and I had experience from elsewhere of what that would mean - unmaintained, with broken headstones, sunken graves, thick undergrowth, self-seeded trees, stinging nettles and brambles. Nevertheless, I was particularly interested to try to find out more about two of my great great great grandfathers who were buried there - Daniel Cole and James Sharp Colley. So having paid my money for detailed maps showing various grave locations, I set off in old clothes, armed with secateurs and thick gloves - and of course my much stronger and ever willing husband, Neil.

The photos show something of what we found.

We eventually located the 1840 grave of Daniel Cole using the map provided by the cemetery along with the graves on either side. These graves were from much later and still showed the plot numbers underneath layers of brambles, ivy and moss. All that was there on the site of Daniel's grave was a coffin-shaped mound. Disappointingly there was no marker of any sort.

The 1863 grave of James Sharp Colley was five or six rows into a thicket, some considerable way from Daniel's grave.

The grave of James Sharp Colley in Abney Park Cemetery

We think we got the right grave because the map showed a slightly larger plot - which is what we eventually found. There was a flat stone with a cross, but as no inscriptions were visible, we may have been kidding ourselves that the grave was his. Neil told me to smile for the photo, but it was a very tired and forced smile.

Neil and I next turned our attention to the grave of William Daniel Cole. I had bought a grave search for him because his name seemed to imply some family relationships - although I had no idea what they might be.

The grave of William Daniel Cole in Abney Park Cemetery

The grave turned out to have a tree growing through it. We tried to remove what we could, but a stump remained, obscuring what was left of a now effectively illegible inscription. Nevertheless, knowing that it was his grave, we could just make out enough to confirm it. My smile, by then, was very wistful indeed.

We were in Abney Park Cemetery for about four hours, hacking through vegetation, negotiating uneven and sunken ground, and trying to orientate ourselves from the maps and landmarks of what was left of recognisable gravestones. Although I knew the approximate locations of various other family members, in particular William Dean and his family, including Catherine Dean, who was born Catherine Cole (Daniel Cole's daughter) there was no way that we could ever have found them. We emerged scratched, bitten, weary and dejected.

Results from analysing the Abney Park documentation

Although the visit was depressing and almost entirely unproductive, what was useful was the information in the documentation that accompanied the grave searches (8 per grave) and which is not available on the cemetery website. If I had realised that this information would go so much further than providing a grave location, I would have spent my money somewhat differently.

The information is listed below.

1. In the same grave together were:

James Sharp Colley buried 26 May 1863 aged 76

Ann Pettit

buried 29 June 1863

aged 52

[Ann was James Sharp Colley's daughter who married the William Pettit who started the Pettit Potteries.]

James Colley

buried 1 July 1868

aged 59

This James Colley is not known to me and may be an error, as it is strange to have two James Colleys (see below) of the same age buried so close together.

James Barnabas Colley

buried 2 July 1868

aged 59


George Colley

buried 12 Feb 1872

aged 76


Elizabeth Colley

buried 1 Dec 1874

aged 81


This shows that William Pettit was already a widower when he started the Pettit Potteries. Perhaps his wife's death was the impetus, aided by the legacy from her father, for getting away from the Tile Kilns and starting something new.

2. In the same grave together were:

Daniel Cole buried 18 Oct 1840 aged 69

Henry Payne

buried 14 Dec 1845

aged 25m

[I wondered who was baby Henry and what was his relationship to Daniel - but the Cemetery has now volunteered that the entry may be a mistake.]

Ann Cole

buried 7 Feb 1847

aged 79

[Ann was Daniel's wife]

The question of who baby Henry Payne was could be important to our family history. Although public graves do exist in Abney Park Cemetery, Daniel Cole's was not one of them. Being a private grave, ie bought and paid for, other people could only be buried there with the permission of the designated owner. So baby Henry's parents could have been close to Daniel and maybe even related. Graves of a century later, set just behind Daniel's, bear stones which show that they are also of the Payne family. Maybe other early unmarked Payne graves also exist nearby. As I didn't buy any information for the Paynes, I can only quote what was on the existing gravestones (partly obliterated in my photos due to undergrowth - as I didn't realise at the time that they might be significant.

In loving memory of JOSEPH GEORGE PAYNE who passed way on ? JULY 1947 aged 47 years. Also DAD THOMAS JOSEPH PAYNE who passed away 3rd JANUARY 1949 aged 82 years. And also ELIZA LUCY PAYNE ...

LILY ROSE PAYNE ? 1905 - 14.9.1995 aged 89 years.

3. In the same grave together were:

Cole, William Daniel buried 25 July 1847 aged 14m

[An address alongside is 92 Gracechurch Street.]

Cole, Thomas

buried 16 Feb 1849

aged 44

See below for my follow-up work

Hemming, Edgar

buried 1 Mar 1858

aged -

[No more addresses]

Hemming, Edwin James

buried 6 May 1861

aged 2

Hemming, Mary Ann

buried 31 Oct 1866

aged 45

Cole, Thomas Henry

buried 29 July 1870

aged 4w


Hemming, George

buried 20 Feb 1874

aged 13


Hemmings, Nathaniel

buried 31 Dec 1874

aged 19

[The s on Hemmings is as received]

Hemming, Nathaniel

buried 16 Feb 1876

aged 57


The Hemming/Hemmings connection seemed worth following up, but the 1841 and 1851 censuses for 92 Gracechurch Street turned out to be inconclusive because 1841 censuses did not give place of birth. At that time Thomas was a hatter without any family living with him. 1851 censuses did give place of birth, but by then Thomas was dead. His widow - or conceivably some other Cole widow - Mary Ann Cole was head of the family and a hatter. Her son William Daniel was of course by then dead, but there was a son T H Cole (Thomas Henry Cole?), age 7, with her. Interestingly she was born at Lambeth, a birth location of some of the Tile Kilns Coles. So there may have been a relationship.

4/5. I also bought information on burials of two men, both called John Cole, on the offchance that they might be significant. (The grave of 'our' John Cole of the Tottenham Cole Potteries was successfully located some years ago in Tottenham Cemetery.) However, I suspect that neither of these John Coles has anything significant to offer our family history, as none of the other individuals in the graves bear our family names. The names in one grave were Henry Parker, Robert Savage, Jessie Gamble, Bessie Brown, Elizabeth Charlotte Barton, John Cole, Samuel Wood Mannering, George Daniel Heaven, Thomas Salmon and Alice Bennett. The names in the other grave, which was a public one, were numerous and of no striking significance. It must have been a very large grave.

6/7. I also bought information on burials of two women, both called Sarah Cole, on the offchance that they might be significant. However, I suspect that neither is 'one of ours', as none of the individuals in the graves have our family names. The names mentioned in one grave were: Richard Cole, Sarah Cole, Jane Vaile and George Bennett. In the other were: Sarah Cole, Elizabeth Mary Cole and John Cole.

8. I also bought information on the offchance for a Mary Cole, but that too turned out to be unproductive because the grave was a public one and non of the other names struck any chords of recognition.

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