Bunhill Fields Part Two

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August 3, 2014 by auntkatefirmin

The question occurred to me – if John Wayt was buried in Bunhill Fields why wasn’t he showing up in the index? After all the registers are scanned and indexes are available in several spots including deceasedonline. Once I asked the question, it was just a matter of finding the correct page in the register and proceeding from there.

Starting in July 1826, I reviewed the entries which in that era include name, age, “brought from,” grave location, and the cost of burial. In a beautiful and clear copperplate script. John’s entry reads:

[July] 16th John Whyt 80 yrs Galway Street

[grave] 6 feet [E & W] 105-106 [N & S] 50 [paid] -/16/- [or about 40 pounds in 2005 money]

Excerpt of Bunhill Fields registry showing burial for "John Whyt" in July 1826.

Excerpt of Bunhill Fields registry showing burial for “John Whyt” in July 1826.

Without the memorial in the church in Swindon, there would have been no evidence to connect John Whyt to John Wayt and Whyt is not an alternative spelling I was considering at any point.

Bunhill Fields was the burial spot for over 120,000 individuals – obviously each grave contained many burials. Even if there was a stone marking the resting place of John Wayt, the chance that it survived Victorian renovations and WWII bombings is slim, although there are said to be 2,500 surviving monuments. The best resource seems to be The Guildhall Library which holds a list of internment registers and inscriptions visible in 1869. (Note to self: MS 897/1-7 with index MS 897/8 & map MS 897/9.) Some excerpted inscriptions appear to have been published as a book as well but include only the better-known individuals. To tell the truth, it’s not that large a place and I’d be content to visit and soak up the atmosphere.

Diagram showing Bunhill Fields burial ground and locations of famous graves, via Wikipedia.

Diagram showing Bunhill Fields burial ground and locations of famous graves, via Wikipedia.

Moving on to the time before John’s death, Galway Street has kept the same name and thus was easy to locate. It’s less than half a mile north of Bunhill Fields and a similar distance east from John’s Row (now Lever Street) where John’s niece Harriet (Blackford) Hall was living in 1837 (and could have been living as early as 1826). What’s left today is a very short stretch of road although 1827 maps show it as a through street. Back in 1746, it was only a field – give Locating London’s Past a try and view the location in three different eras.

Shot of Galway Street in London captured from Google street view.

Shot of Galway Street in London captured from Google street view.

During a period covering 1826, John’s son Richard appears to be paying tax and presumably carrying out his business from Aldersgate Street, close to the intersection with Carthusian Street. (Carthusian Street led to the Charterhouse, once run by the Carthusian order.) This would be less than a mile southwest of Galway Street. The tax records do not include a street address but appear to be written in an order that reflects a path along the streets. (This is just another assumption on my part.) At the time it was common for a person’s residence to be above his place of business, so for the moment let’s consider Aldersgate Street near Carthusian Street to be close enough and leave finding the exact modern street address for another day.

In summary, by 1826 John Wayt seems to have retired from his business in Swindon and moved to London, perhaps to live near his son Richard. As far as we know he was a widower and did not live with any relatives, although there were likely to be nieces and nephews in Chelsea, Marylebone or Lambeth that might visit from time to time. I like to think he retired while he was still active enough to enjoy strolling the streets of Finsbury; perhaps he had a favorite park or local-coffee house where he met with his peers to discuss the events of the day.

An interesting research project would be to locate all the other Wayts & Blackfords that might have been in the area in 1826 – but not today! While Wayt is not as common a name as Hall, and it’s helpful that the Swindon branch of the family tends to use the spelling Wayt (rather than the slightly more common Wayte or Waite) there are still many references to check.

News flash!! While simultaneously looking for visuals related to Richard Wayt, I found the 1823 directory listing below. Could it be that Richard’s brother John was also nearby on Goswell Street?

1823 entry for Richard & John Wayt in Kent's London Directory via Google books.

1823 entry for Richard & John Wayt in Kent’s London Directory via Google books.


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