Behind the Friends Meeting House lies a large and peaceful burial ground where many of the names on the simple headstones record the Quaker families who influenced the history of Darlington. (PDF document records are attached below this description text).
This land has been used as a burial ground by Darlington’s Quaker population since the 18th century. Before that time there are suggestions adjacent plots were used, but what happened to these graves when buildings were erected is not clear. Initially, all headstones were banned. Marking a person in this way could be seen as elevating them above others, which goes against the testimony of equality. By the time of our first headstone, Quakers had come to an agreement that a small, simple stone would be appropriate, marking the name, date of death, and age. However, Quakers objected to using those names of days and months which derived from pagan gods; they substituted numbers, thus Sunday was for them "First Day." The move from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 can therefore cause some confusion, as the first month was March and then became January. Thankfully The oldest headstone at Darlington is 1789, so all first months refer to January. Headstones were never obligatory, and many burials have no marker.
Some time in the 1950’s full burials were ceased, but interment of ashes is still performed. Plots can be subdivided for family and where interment of ashes has been performed up to six subdivisions can be possible per plot. These are indicated by letters (A-F) appended to the plot number. Some Quakers also request that ashes are scattered, which is a less formal process. These scatterings are sometimes in common areas with no plot number, or around a plot where there is a family connection. This list will indicate, where known, the status of the burial/scattering.
We publish burials from 1789 as show in the attched document records. We do not hold the earlier records, all burial records within Durham General Meeting as existing in 1840 were surrendered to the Public Record Office following public registration in 1837. Friends within the Yearly Meeting made digests of all burials c. 1660- 1837 based on Quarterly Meeting boundaries. These digests are held at Durham County Records Office under the following references:
1628-1837, SF/Du/QM/7/8, M5/128
1655-1840, SF/Du/QM/7/6, M5/128
1655-1816, SF/Du/QM/7/9, M5/128
1789, SF/Du/QM/7/12, M5/128
The Burial Ground is open to the public and is an oasis of peace and tranquillity in the heart of Darlington town centre. We invite you to come, visit and enjoy it.
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