Other than the ardent collections of grave and monument inscriptions produced by Vere Oliver (1861-1942) during his trips to the West Indies in 1913 and 1914 many Caribbean’s will have lost these snippets of information about their own families.
These words of Oliver written in 1927 are still true to this day:
“… records in the Islands are rapidly perishing, and require transcription, for which there is no money and no skilled staff. This is far from being a new complaint, for in the year 1714, my ancestor, Colonel the Hon. Richard Oliver, was appointed to inspect and report on the condition of the records … exactly 200 years later, I was engaged on the same work“.
Oliver’s further jottings from his island on a trips to the West Indies in 1913 and 1914:
- Oliver, Vere Langford. More Monumental Inscriptions: Tombstones of the British West Indies. 1927; reprint: San Bernardino, Calif.: The Borgo Press, 1993. Digitised by FamilySearch Books Online. The Grenada dozen page section begins on page 199.
An earlier work, which covers many Caribbean islands, includes Grenada:
- Laurence-Archer, James. Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies from the Earliest Date with Genealogical and Historical Annotations, from Original, Local and Other Sources, Illustrative of the Histories and Genealogies of the Seventeenth Century … London: Chatto & Windus, 1875. FHL Film 283588; digital versions at DLOC; Internet Archive – both free. The two page Grenada section begins on 429 but there are no monument inscriptions.
Because the islands of Grenada continues to be predominantly Protestant with over half the population following the Roman Catholic doctrines and about 14% more specifically Anglican (with the other third being variations of Protestant) the tradition of grave burials and cemeteries remain strong. However, it is not the tradition within Caribbean islands, as in other countries, to keep cemetery plans and plot identification and there are almost no tombstone index. A family may hold a tax ticket to prove ownership to a family plot – but as to whom is buried where or when is a fleeting record on the cement or more rare a headstone. Which is more usual are the memories of the children left behind – but all three are quickly ravaged by time and the harsh weather on the islands.
It is important to note that the tradition of “All Soul’s” in October remains strong and many family groups continue to remember (sic) those who have passed on by visiting their graves, holding a candle-night vigil, and even painting or cleaning the grave.
Just a tiny percentage of families remain Buddhist (usually from lines who originated from Calcutta, India).
There are no Military of non-Protestant cemeteries on the islands. The ancient burial grounds of so-called indigenous cultures no longer exists in any real sense and almost no one can claim lineage to this peoples.
The largest cemetery on Grenada is Saint George’s Cemetery. It is situated close to both the cruise liner terminal and the Queen’s Park sports stadium in St George’s. From the Port, follow Melville Street for about one kilometre, and then turn right into River Road, just beyond the large Funeral Society premises on the right hand side. The cemetery is divided into separate lower, middle and upper sections:
- the upper plot is north of River Road and covers 1.67 acres (over 6755.55 m² (72716.11 feet²).
- the middle and largest plot is south of River Road stretching up along the west side along Cemetery Hill and covers 4.36 acres (17651.81 m² or 190002.55 feet²)
- the lower plot lies south of the largest section in the fork of Church Street to its west and Cemetery Hill into Old Fort road to the north-east which covers 0.76 acres (3079.83 m² or 33151.07 feet²). This site is called Wilberforce Cemetery after William Wilberforce (1759–1833) in appreciation of great efforts by he and others in securing emancipation of the slave from 1838.
St. George’s Cemetery does contains one Commonwealth burial of the First World War and three from the Second World War. The three Second World War graves are located in a single plot in the lower section of the cemetery, about 20 metres from the entrance close to the left hand boundary wall, which overlooks St George’s Bay. Also a single First World war grave is located in the central section, and is best reached via the entrance in Cemetery Hill Road opposite the La Qua and Sons funeral society premises. Head towards the palm tree at 1 o’clock to and about 40 metres from the entrance. The standard pattern headstone for Corporal Mercurious is about 5 metres to the right of the palm tree, its view blocked from any distance by the larger memorials surrounding it.
Other endangered cemeteries are the Carriacou cemetery, Mt. Airy cemetery in St. Paul’s and the church yard cemetery of St. Paul’s Anglican Church (the graves are literally sliding down an embankment into a ravine).
Tagged: Grenada Cemeteries