Given that St. Michael's had no burial space, until the opening of the cemetery, burials were typically made at St. Mary's in Old Malton. In September 1858, the Churchwardens for St. Michael's (Alfred Smith and Jas. Smith) and St. Leonard's (John Teale and Geo. Bartindale) gave notice to their parishioners that there would be a meeting in the town hall to consider whether a burial ground for the joint use of the parishes should be created, and should this be resolved then to appoint a Burial Board. The positive outcome resulted in a first meeting of the Malton Burial Board on 1st November 1858 with Alfred Simpson being appointed Chairman and Samuel Walker as Clerk to the Board. The Board recorded its opinion that a field containing about 5 acres situated in St. Leonard's and in the occupation of the representatives of the late Mr. Thomas Teesdale, and belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam forms a desirable site for the burial ground. Mr. Copperthwaite felt there would be no objection and was asked to approach Earl Fitzwilliam. The Clerk was asked to 'apply to architects to prepare a plan for the laying out.' A budget of £1,000 was agreed.

The Chapels

Creating a cemetery was not quite as easy as might be assumed as the minutes of the Burial board of 15th November begin to show. They record the Board 'being desirous of erecting one chapel only for the performance of Burial Service according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England.' The Board however thought it advisable to have the opinion of the Secretary of State as to whether or not Dissenters could use the Consecrated Chapel, further, if one Chapel were not possible, then could there be a single Chapel but with separate entrances, and if so, would such Chapel need to stand partly on consecrated and partly on unconsecrated ground? The Secretary of State declined to answer these questions and the Churchwardens were requested to seek opinions of the ratepayers. At a meeting of the Vestry of the Ecclesiastical Parishes of St. Michael's and St. Leonard's on 8th December 1858 it was resolved on the motion of Mr. Edwin Ash, and seconded by Mr. Thomas Meyrick that '… ... suitable accommodation should be made for the performance of Burial Service by Dissenting Bodies.' The topic was becoming clearer and the Burial Board meeting of 13th December resolved that one chapel with a division should be erected. The clerk was asked to determine the arrangements at York and ask whether the Bishop will consecrate such a Chapel. However, this enquiry revealed that the single Chapel at York was built before the passing of the Burial Acts and that the Archbishop was of the opinion that the law required 2 Chapels; one consecrated and one unconsecrated. The Burial Board meeting of 20th December asked the Clerk to request architects to alter their plans. This same meeting reviewed a request from Reverend Mr. Middlehurst that a portion of the Burial Ground be set apart for the special use of the Roman Catholic Church (some months later it was concluded that as the proportion of Catholic parishioners was very low such a request would not be granted).

Work Begins

Finally at the Burial Board meeting of 17th January 1859, it was resolved that the plan and design by Mr. George Slater be accepted. Shortly afterwards the plans were submitted to and approved by the Archbishop of York and Earl Fitzwilliam offered the land at £150 per acre. The minutes of the Burial Board meeting of 21st February 1859 record acceptance of tenders totalling £1,411 6s 2d.

An advertisement was placed in the Malton Messenger, 5 February 1859 inviting builders interested in the work to construct the cemetery to tender. Image on the left ©British Library, Malton Messenger, 5 February 1859

The foundation stones for the two chapels at the cemetery were laid on 5th March, 1859. Beneath each stone was deposited a bottle containing a document - that under the Episcopal chapel was as follows: - "The foundation stone of this chapel, erected by the Burial Board, for the ecclesiastical parishes of St. Michaels and St. Leonard, Malton, for the performance therein of burial service, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, was laid on this 5th day of March, 1859, and in the 23rd year of the reign of Queen Victoria, by Alfred Simpson, Esq., bailiff of the Borough of Malton and chairman of the burial board, the other members of the burial board being Messrs. W.C. Coperthwaite, James Smith, William Walker, John Hopkins, Henry Soulby, Charles Bartliff, Hirst Walker and Abraham Sewell. Clerk to the Burial Board, Mr. Samuel Walker, Norton, Malton; architect, Mr. John Gibson, Malton; contractors for the buildings - masons' work, Messrs. Dove, Scarbro'; carpenters' work, Mr. Martin Dodsworth, Malton; smiths' work, Mr. Shouksmith, York; painters' work, Mr. Wm. Wilson, Norton, Malton. The ground is laid out after a design by Mr. George Wm. Slater, of Malton. Contractor, Mr. J. Bowler, of Scarborough." The document placed under the stone of the Non-conformist's chapel was precisely as above, excepting that the words printed in italics were omitted, and the following substituted, - "by persons not being members of the Established Church of England." [1] Construction of the Chapels, walls and paths progressed rapidly, and the records of the Burial Board show the various meetings approving contractors invoices and minor alterations to the work. In September 1879 the New Malton Burial Board recorded that ‘the 20th and last instalment of £104 was ordered to be remitted to the Public Works Loan Board on account of an original sum of £2,000, borrowed on the construction of the Cemetery 20 years ago, so that now the place is out of debt. [2]

  • [1] York Herald, 12th March, 1859
  • [2] York Herald, 25th September 1879
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The Burial Board meeting of the 4th October 1859, resolved that wages of the person appointed to take charge of the Cemetery and act as sexton be fixed at 14s weekly, in addition to being allowed to occupy the house and garden adjoining the Cemetery, rent and taxes free, on condition that he is to devote his whole services to the Board. John Middleton, gardener of Norton, was appointed. On the 13th October 1859, Mr. Samuel Walker was appointed Registrar of Burials. Mr. John Wise was asked to conduct an accurate survey and prepare a suitable plan of the Cemetery, showing division of the ground into grave spaces 9 feet by 4 feet and numbered consecutively from one upwards – see minutes of the Burial Board meeting 15th October 1859. On the 22nd November it was resolved that the Cemetery 'be opened for interments on and after Monday next ... The Clerk to give notice in the Malton papers ... '

Opening and First Burial

The cemetery opened for business on Monday 28th November 1859. Once the cemetery was open the practice of burials being made in the church yard at St. Mary's, Old Malton was discouraged 'From the time of opening the Cemetery it has been determined that all funerals in Old Malton church-yard of persons not dying within the ecclesiastical parish of Old Malton will be charged double fees.' [2] The first funeral took place on Monday 5th December, 1859 with the interment of William Arrundell Exley, son of Mr. Robert Exley of Malton, bricklayer, aged eleven years. The body was interred in that part of the cemetery set apart as unconsecrated ground. The funeral service was performed by the Rev. J. Dodsworth, Primitive Methodist minister [1]

  • [1] York Herald, 10th December 1859
  • [2] York Herald, 3rd December 1859
  • [3] York Herald, 10th December 1859


In March 1860, the Malton Messenger reported of proposals to erect a mausoleum and monument in the cemetery, the plan having been oprepared by Mr. Gibson, architect. The monument was said to be 'of the decorated period', with a 36ft spire, and octagonal, each side having tablets on which to record the names of those interred in the mausoleum. There were proposed to be 75 vaults and the site would be 'the oval beyond the chapels'. [1]

  • [1] Malton Messenger, 31 March 1860

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