Sunday, 13 July 2014

George Mullins' grave

I’ve been sent this photograph of the grave in Oxford of my grandfather’s grandfather in the direct male line.  This may not be that interesting to anyone else, but I posted a short piece about him nearly six years ago as he is an important person in my sense of who I am having appeared in the first edition of the Crockford directories of Anglican clergy.  I am absolutely delighted to have it and am already making plans to visit it next month.  The photographer has helpfully set the largely illegible gravestone in the front of the picture in the context of the clearly named one beyond it to assist me locating it when I go.

It fills in a gap – I’ve visited the graves of his son, grandson and great-grandson (my great-grandfather, grandfather and father) and I’ve visited the graves of his father, grandfather,  great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather (all in the same churchyard at Box in Wiltshire), so this now provides a continuous set of burials back over nine generations to the first in 1733.  As I point out to enquirers in our churchyards, it is rare to find gravestones much older than that in any churchyard.

I knew his burial in 1867 was recorded in the registers of St Giles’ , Oxford, and have from time to time walked through that churchyard assuming he was buried somewhere near-by in a grave whose marker no longer survives.  I’d missed one important point.

In the middle of the nineteenth century many urban churchyards became full.  Here in Grimsby there are gory details of attempts to fit in new graves in St James’ churchyard before it was shut in 1854 and burials began to take place in the Doughty Road Cemetery instead.   The same thing was happening in Oxford at the same time – and St Sepulchre’s Cemetery in Walton Street was opened in 1848 to take all future burials for St Giles’ parish and three other city centre parishes.

I now find that it contains the graves of a number of representative figures in Anglican history.  My earlier piece identified George Mullins as having been the Master of a set of west country almshouses in the year Trollope published his first Barchester novel The Warden.  I now know he lies not that far away from figures like Benjamin Jowett (one of the leading figures in the Broad Church movement which embraced new German biblical criticism and accommodated Darwin’s discoveries) and Marion Rebecca Hughes (one of the leading figures in the High Church movement as the first Anglican to make vows as a religious sister) - movements which began to reshape the Church of England during his lifetime.

1 comment:

Joy Davis said...

Interesting Peter. We have traced our family tree back many generations and have birth/death certificates but it never occurred to us to find their graves!