The Burial Records of the Church of England Cemetery

Thorne Avenue, Saint John

by Lennox Bagnell

A phone call is often reason enough for me not to do housework. If you don't tell, I'll let you in on a secret, "I hate housework!"

One evening as I was preparing supper, the phone rang and a gentleman from British Columbia was on the line. He wanted information on his great-great-grandfather, Sergeant John Hipwell, who had died in New Brunswick in 1910. So, once supper was over, I scurried to the cluttered room that holds my books and research material. By the way, the dishes were left in the sink to soak.

If Sergeant John Hipwell died in Saint John, where would he be buried? The first reference book that I reached for was Lennox (Cappy) Bagnell's, "The Burial Records of the Church of England Cemetery." Mr. Bagnell spent months and months compiling this book, and it has so much data. It will spare you hours and hours of sifting through microfilms.

There are more than 6,700 entries which include, in most cases, the name, date of death, age at death, clergy and parish, occupation of parent and spouse and lot number. Sure enough, Sgt. Hipwell and members of his family were buried at the Church of England Cemetery. Now for a look at Dan Johnson's listing of the tombstone in this cemetery. I found it, and the inscription read: "John Hipwell born Queens County, Ireland on July 9, 1824 and died Oct. 1, 1910 after a service of 59 years on City Police Force."

If Sgt. Hipwell was a policeman, maybe he was mentioned in the book, "The Saint John Police Story." Lucky again, not only did I find information in this book on the sergeant but his picture had been included.
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Many of the early settlers of Saint John buried their loved ones in the Loyalist Burial Ground. In 1827, it was becoming evident that the old burial ground would be unable to take many more burials. There was also a move to end burials in the old cemetery.

Trinity Church purchased land on the south side of Thorne Avenue, then known as the Westmorland Road, for the new burial ground - the Church of England Cemetery.

This cemetery is on the Courtenay Bay side of Thorne Avenue. Several of the original tombstones no longer mark the grave of a loved one - time and vandals have taken their toll.

Strolling through this cemetery and looking at the surrounding area can take you back in time to the days of yesteryear - farmers coming from outside of town with their slovens, carriages or express wagons; children playing on the Maryanne Rocks; horses racing on the Courtenay Bay mud flats; men working in the shipyards of Marsh Creek and so the memories flash on and on.

The constant roar of the cars passing by does not hide the sorrow that you feel for families who brought their loved ones here to their last resting place. Hundreds of people drive by each day, but few take time to stop and walk through this graveyard.

"The Burial Records of the Church of England Cemetery" by Lennox Bagnell is available for viewing at the Saint John Free Public Library, Market Square.

Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at  Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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