Roadside Burials of Suicide Victims

Until the passing of the Suicide Act 1961, Suicide was still a criminal offence in England and until 1882 suicides had to be buried on unconsecrated ground. In the seventeenth and eighteen century, those declared to have commited felo de se (the archaic term for suicide) were given a shameful burial, usually under cover of darkness with a stake driven through the body, and forfeited their estate to The Crown.

This map shows the locations of documented cases as and when found

Why were suicides buried at Crossroads?

Henry Murton, aged 14 years

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried at six o'clock in the morning at the four crossways near Faversham
Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal March 7, 1809

Richard Brooker, Corporal of the 84th regiment of Foot

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Interred in the highway leading to Brigg
Stamford Mercury January 20, 1809

Young Woman Servant, of Top Bank

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the highway at New Cross
Lancaster Gazette October 1, 1808

Kesiah Workman of Slimbridge

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried near the cross-road in Slimbridge Field
Hereford Journal August 31, 1808

John Thomas

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the cross-roads in the usual way
Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal June 28, 1808

Thomas Spicer of Westerleigh

Posted: March 24, 2017

Servant of Mr Welch of Welton

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the highway and had a stake driven through his body
Stamford Mercury December 4, 1807

Thomas Etches, baker of Newark

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Immediately buried in the crossroads
Stamford Mercury October 22, 1807

James Robinson, Private of His Majesty’s 14th regiment of Foot

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: In a crossroads or public highway
Oxford University and City Herald September 26, 1807

John Patterson, rapist of Terrington

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: In the crossroads near Markham Moor
Bury and Norwich Post June 10, 1807

William Warner, aged 14 of Houghton

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the public highway
Northampton Mercury May 10, 1806

Young Man, drowned in the Soar, Leicester

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the public highway
Northampton Mercury June 1, 1805

Vertue Parsons of Winchester

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the public highway
Hampshire Chronicle November 15, 1802

Tabitha Glasberry of Christchurch

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: On the order of a coroner, buried in a public road
Salisbury and Winchester Journal March 9, 1801

Theophilus Smith of Stafford

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: The public crossroads, Stafford
Bury and Norwich Post January 14, 1801

John Hanning of Newhaven

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Buried in the Crossroads near St John's Church, but the stake formerly used on such occasions was dispensed with
Hampshire Chronicle October 8, 1798

James Anderson of Southwark

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: In the highway near the gates of Christchurch-yard
Kentish Gazette January 11, 1791

Jacob Sallis of Littleport

Posted: March 24, 2017
Location: Public Highroad between Littleport & Ely
The Oxford Journal August 23, 1806

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