Many early Quakers were buried in parish churchyards, often without a traditional church committal. Sometimes funerals were disturbed by unruly mobs. Most Quakers preferred not to be buried in the local churchyard and burial in a garden or orchard was common practice. This was not always possible and it became necessary to obtain land.
The first burial at Tottenham was in 1802; that of Thomas Garman, aged seven years. Friends who died were interred in rows without distinction. Gravestones were disallowed.
In 1816 at Tottenham, low oval-topped stones were erected. These were simply engraved with the Friend’s name and dates of birth and death.
Today, these stones are stood around the sides of the burial ground and the centre is grassed over. A plan has been kept of the spot where each Friend is buried.
The last burial took place in 1893. In 1894 the Burial Ground was closed to burials, though scattering of ashes is still allowed.
8th month 1851: Yearly Meeting minute
Grave stones are to be 18″ by 12″ by 3″ that all such stones be laid horizontally. The graves inscription (are) to be name, age, and date of deceased; that (in) all burial grounds an entire uniformity be observed; that all changes be borne by the monthly meetings; where parties apply for stones to be placed the cost is to be paid (by them).
12th month 1862: Tottenham Monthly Meeting minute
The Gravestones Committee report:
- all shall be placed in an upright position
- shall not exceed 36″ long, 24″ out of the ground by 18″ wide and by 3″ thickness
- that York stone be used, the same finished with an elliptical top
- inscriptions are to be the name and age of the individual and date of deceased
- those who wish to have stones shall pay all charges connected therewith.