The Ballast Hills Graveyard is the most important nonconformist burial ground in Newcastle, dating from 1609

The path, (above) situated at the back of the former Domestos works and close to the Ouseburn school. was created in the 1930's using about 200 headstones from the Ballast Hills Burial Ground. The burial ground, known locally as Plaguey Fields, was used from the 17C up until 1853

Miscellaneous Cuttings that mention the Ballast Hills Burial Grounds

BALLAST HILLS BURIAL-PLACE. From: 'Protestant Dissent: Chapels and meeting-houses', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827),

This cemetery is situated a short distance east of the Ouseburn, and, as the name indicates, is covered with ballast. Some have inferred, from the silence of Bourne on the subject, that this place was not used for sepulchre in his time; but, considering the peculiar cast of mind in this historian, such reasoning is certainly not conclusive. The probability is, that these hills, or wastes, were used by the earliest Scottish emigrants as a place for burying their dead; for the old, stern, unbending Presbyterians, considered the very entrance into an Episcopal church as an overt act of idolatry, and would by no means suffer the funeral service to be read over their dead. This burialplace was formerly much larger; for houses have been built, and glass-house cinders poured over the graves of many who had been interred without the present enclosed ground. It does not appear that any enclosure was made until the year 1785, when the following order was made by the common council:—
"At a common council held the fourth day of April, 1785, the inhabitants of the East Ballast Hills petitioned, setting forth, that numbers of swine were daily observed working and grubbing among the graves there, near the petitioners' dwelling houses, to the great annoyance of the petitioners, and of many others who pass and re-pass that way. That there were many persons Dissenting from the Church of England, who, of choice, make use of that ground for burying in; and who, if the common council would give them leave, would, by a contribution among them, enclose the said burial-ground with a wall or paling, and would keep such wall or paling in repair, in order to prevent the aforesaid disagreeable nuisance; but, nevertheless, would wish to have it as free for the burial of all manner of persons, without any advance of burial-fees, and as much under the power and direction of the common council, as the same hitherto hath been, and now is. They therefore prayed the common council to permit the said burial-ground to be enclosed for the purpose aforesaid.
"The said petition, being read, was referred to a committee; and thereupon Edward Mosley, Charles Atkinson, and Hugh Hornby, Esq,and aldermen, Mr. William Cramlington, and Mr. John Wallis, have reported, that they had considered the contents of the petition, and viewed the said burial-ground; and had received from Mr. Joshua Henzell, one of the owners or lessees of the glass-houses adjacent, the fullest assurances that a compliance with the request of the petitioners will not, in any degree, interfere with the liberties or privileges heretofore demised by this corporation to the owners of any of the said glass-houses, or their trustees. The said committee, therefore, recommended that permission be granted to Messrs. John Kidd, William Davidson, and John Day, to enclose, at their own expense, the said burial ground (in the line and extent staked out and shown to the said committee on their view), and to build, on some proper and convenient part of the said burial-ground, a small dwelling-house for the grave-digger; such enclosure and house to be made under the direction of the town-surveyor. Provided, that after such enclosure is made, all persons be permitted to bury there as heretofore, on payment of the usual fees, and that such fees be not raised or enhanced; and that the appointment of the grave-digger, and the direction and management of the said burial-ground, do continue in this corporation, as it hitherto hath been. All which the committee humbly submitted to the common council.
"The said report, being read, is approved of, agreed to, and confirmed. It is therefore ordered, that the said John Kidd, William Davidson, and John Day, be permitted to enclose the said burial-ground accordingly, and to build thereon such house, under such direction, and subject to such conditions and restrictions as aforesaid.—James Rudman, Mayor."
After the above grant was obtained, a committee of the Dissenting body in this town went from house to house, soliciting subscriptions for making a proper enclosure around this burial-ground, and erecting a house for the sexton. This work was executed in 1786; and the late Michael Callender planted a few trees around the wall for ornament, of which no vestige now remains. A stone was built into the south-east end of the sexton's house, recording the grant just made by the corporation; but the town-surveyor ordered it to be pulled down, and it now lies near the entrance of the gate. Considering the extreme jealousy with which the corporation have always guarded their rights, it is not probable that any grave-stones would be suffered to stand here without their special permission. This perhaps was granted before, or soon after, the Revolution. The oldest stone remaining records an interment near the commencement of the last century:—"The Buriall Place of Patrick Sandalls of ............. Baker And Margratt his wife she De Part ed ys life ye 16e of Decembr 1708." On an upright stone is the following inscription:—"The Burial-place of John and Margaret Brunton, with six children who died in infancy, and Joseph in the prime of life. In 1796, this stone was erected, in grateful remembrance of his parents, by Benjamin Brunton, their only surviving son, in place of one set up by his father, which, after standing 70 years, fell into decay. It is said the first one in this ground." The old stone still lies at the foot of B. Brunton's grave. Sandall's grave-stone shews that Mr. Brunton's information was incorrect.

It does not accord with the plan of this work to notice all the melancholy memorials of the dead which are crowded into this large burial-ground. In May, 1817, it contained 621 grave-stones; but the number at present probably exceeds 700. The average number of interments, from 1820 to 1825 inclusive, was 599 annually. The expense of interment is very moderate; for no funeral service is read, the ground not being attached to any church. Sometimes, however, an exhortation is delivered, or a prayer is pronounced, by the minister of the deceased. This ground is peculiarly well adapted for the purposes of sepulchre: it is light and dry, while the calcareous nature of the ballast accelerates the decomposition of the dead.
More bodies are interred in this burying-ground than in all the church-yards in the town; and, in consequence, it has recently been found inadequate to accommodate the numerous occupants, without prematurely disturbing the remains of those who had gone before, and thus distressing the feelings of the living. The Dissenting ministers, and some leading members of their congregations, held several conferences on this important subject; and at length it was resolved to hold a public meeting in the Orphan House, on the 14th June, 1825, to take into consideration the propriety of obtaining a new place of burial. At this meeting, James Losh, Esq. presided; and, on the motion of Mr. John Fenwick, it was unanimously resolved that three acres of freehold ground on the west or north-west side of Newcastle be purchased; that the sum of £2000 be raised in 200 shares, at £10 each; and that one-fourth of the ground be sold for family burial-places, the rest to be used as a place of general sepulchre. (fn. 48) On the motion of the Rev. James Pringle, the committee then appointed were also instructed to adopt measures for obtaining the enlargement and improvement of the Ballast Hills burying-ground.
Accordingly, on the 6th July, 1825, the committee presented a petition to the common council, praying that the waste ground between the north wall of the present burying-ground and the Shields turnpike be granted, for the purpose of enlarging this public cemetery, agreeably to a plan made by Mr. John Bell, and accompanying the petition. On September 29, the petition was referred by the common council to a committee, chosen by themselves, called the Ballast Hills Burying-ground Committee. At this time, an application was made for leave to form a waggon-way across the waste ground prayed for; in consequence of which, the consideration of the petition was deferred. The committee petitioned a second time, and for a smaller portion of ground; and in September, 1826, the corporation decided to grant 23 yards northwards from the present burying-ground, provided that the whole be enclosed by a wall 4½ feet high, and surmounted by an iron railing also 4½ feet in height; that two lodges and a gateway be built on the north side; and that the present sexton's house be pulled down, and two slips of the present ground be added to the adjoining public roads. The waste ground granted by this order measures 1674 square yards, and the old ground measures 2 acres, 3 roods, 19 poles; so that, after the small angles mentioned above are taken off, this burial-place will contain above three acres of ground. The corporation have still the appointment of the sexton, and are paid sixpence for each body interred.

Photographs of the Burial Ground & Gravestones

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      Who is Buried here

William Hails Son of Thomas Hales & Isabel Johnson. Died May 1823 in Forth Banks, Newcastle, Buried 25 May 1823. Occupation Potter.

(Gravestone Transcription) The family burial place of Robert Cook. Manager of The Newcastle, Broad and Crown Glass Co. Margaret his wife, died 31st December, 1831 aged 52 years. Eleanor his daughter died in infancy. The above Robert Cook , died Octr 25th 1834, aged 54 years. Barbara Lighton his daughter died June 14th 1844, aged 28 years.

(Gravestone Transcription)  Robert Cook and Eleanor his wife who hath three of their children Interred here.

Jane Hall, b. 1797, d. Mar 1837 Knockshield, Alllendale, NBL, bur. 24 Mar 1837

Sarah Roddam, b. Aug 1836 Allendale, NBL, d. May 1837 Knockshield, Allendale, NBL, bur. 26 May 1837

Rosanna Emmett wife of Francis Emmett Waterman.  CM aged 31. b. Dent's Hole. The Emmett's of Dent's Hole were well known in the 19th and early 20th Century as Mariners, Fishermen and Watermen on the River Tyne. They also at one time ran the Blue Bell Inn, (forerunner of the later Blue Bell Inn on Shields Road, Byker.
(Dent's Hole was part of Byker and found to the south east of Newcastle, immediately east of St. Peter's. It is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1859, but disappeared before the 1895 map, due to the building of the railway. On both maps there is a ferry across to Friars Goose, Felling).

The Rev. Mr. Alexander Nimmo,
late minister in the Close. Obiit February' 5th, 1770, in the 18th year of his ministry, aged 44.
Here also are deposited the remains of four of his children, viz. Christian, ob. Oct. 1, 1759, ætatis 3. Alexander, ob. Dec. 14, 1778, ætatis 16.

Jane Lesslie,
daughter of Mr. Alexander Nimmo, departed this life January the 4th, 1788, in the 24th year of her age. And of her son James, September 21, 1785, in infancy. Done by the order of Mrs. Jane Nimmo, proprietor of this stone. Jane, relict of the Rev. Alexander Nimmo, died May 31,1808, aged 75"

The Rev. Mr. James Robertson, late minister of the gospel in Sallyport meeting-house, Newcastle, who departed this life 23d September, 1767, aged 39 years.

Here sleeps in Jesus the body of Thomas Skinner, late minister of the Gospel, of the Baptist persuasion, in Newcastle, who died the 11th of February, 1795, aged 42 years. The very high esteem which his congregation bore him caused them to erect this stone to his venerated memory.

The congregation of Dissenters in the Postern meeting, Newcastle, erected this stone in memorial of the worth and their esteem of the Rev. John Cureton, their late and much revered pastor, departed this life December 1, 1793, aged 32.

The Burial-place of Thomas Bulcraig and family, late innkeeper on the Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne. Three of his children died in infancy. Elizabeth his daughter, died March 28, 1800, aged 15 years. Also the above Thomas Bulcraig, departed this life Jan. 17, 1802, aged 56 years

Here sleeps in Jesus the body of Elizabeth, wife of Peter Wilkinson, clerk for the Tyne Ironworks. She died at Blaydon the 30th of Jan. 1802, aged 26 years.

The following is according to the old Scotch custom, whereby the wife retains her maiden name:—"The mortal remains of Jean Adair McCracken, wife of the Rev. David Wilson, Kilmarnock, are deposited here. She departed this life, aged 43, on the 10th day of February, 1826."—"The family burial-place of the Rev. James Pringle. William, eldest son of the above James Pringle, and Ann Oliver, his wife, died April 11, 1822, aged 14 years. Margaret Ann, their daughter, died Oct. 5, 1822, aged 5½ years.

Robert Gilchrist was born in Gateshead in St. Mary's Parish, Sept 8, 1797  Known as one of the Brightest of the Tyneside writers.  Father was a Newcastle sail maker. Robert was apprenticed to William Spence, sail maker  At age 21 in 1818 he received a silver medal from his companions in appreciation for  his poetry. In that year he took us his freelage with a musket for the defence of the town.  In 1817 he was drawn by ballot for the militia for this duty he found a substitute Matthew  Winship a High Bridge shoemaker. Gilchrist's first book Gothalbert and Hisanna  was published in 1822. In 1824 his Collection of Original Songs, Local and Sentimental  was published by Mitchell.  The second part appeared in 1826 (his last publication)  published by  W. Boag. Gilchist produced sacred works which show him to favor the philosophy of  the Glassites.  He married Miss Morrison. Gilchrist took over his fathers business near the  Custom House on the Quayside in 1829.  He was not successful in the business preferring  the country and long walking tours. Gilchrist resided in the old house facing Shieldfield Green.  In 1838 he wrote of the destruction which threatened his house.  The house was spared.  Gilchrist as a freeman took part in the "barges" event and was foremost in the Freemen's steamboat. 
He" had a slight cast in his eye and when telling a humorous story this eye did half the business"  Died July 11, 1844 aged 47.

John Selkirk
"The Otway of the local muse".  Born just over the blue stane o' the brig. Gateshead. Father George Selkirk= hairdresser in the Close.
John was clerk with Messrs. Strake and Boyd Quayside. Known for the Bob Cranky songs written when he was in his 20s. His songs
turn up on the Northern Minstrel or Gateshead Songster 1806-7. Selkirk also wrote Swalwell Hoppin'. Returned from London to Newcastle
around 1830.
Inquest of his death= Newcastle Chronicle Nov. 18, 1843-
"....on the body of John Selkirk aged 60 who fell into the river near Sandgate on Saturday evening, and
was drowned.  The deceased was a person of singular habits and disposition, and had formerly
been a respectable merchant in London; but latterly was so reduced in circumstances as to subsist
upon the charity of the benevolent.  For some time in the past he had slept nights on the shavings
of a joiner's shop in Sandgate, and refused to accept parochial relief. On Saturday evening he was
observed to carry a tin bottle to the river to obtain water, when he unfortunately fell in...."
Buried November14, 1843 plot Number 655 

The burial-place of Robert Elliott, whitesmith, of Newcastle. Mary, his wife, died Nov. 22. 1756, aged 36 years. Robert Elliott died Oct. 10, 1784, aged 86 years. Walter Elliott died March 1. 1807, aged 60 years. Jane Elliott died Oct. 12, 1810, aged 30 years. Isabella Elliott died Jan. 22, 1824, aged 83 years. Walter Elliott died July 20, 1824, aged 42 years."—"In memory of Thomas Paget, glassman, who died Sept. 20, 1814, aged 38 years. This stone is erected as a mark of esteem by his brother workmen."—"In memory of William Runchiman, schoolmaster, ob. May 12, 1776."—"The burial-place of James and Margaret Longmoor. Good Saxon, invade not this little spot with strangers. See all that is to be traced on earth is but a putrid mass."—"The burial-place of Henry Strachan, keelman, and family, where, with his two wives, children, and children's children, too numerous to mention.

George Grieve, M. D. died 30th Sept. 1800."—"James Hainch, schoolmaster, died October 21, 1800, aged 81 years."—"Gilbert Grey, bookbinder, æt. 84, died Wednesday, 12th February, 1794."—"Alexander Murray, schoolmaster, who died April 1, 1785, aged 58 years."—"The burial-place of Alexander Cameron, schoolmaster. Here lies the body of Allan Cameron. late surgeon in Newcastle, who departed this life the 29th July. 1779, aged 32 years.

The burial-places of Alexander and Lilly Doeg; Thomas Fife and Margaret his wife: Nicholas Jackson and Grizel his wife; Alexander and Isabella Reid; William and Ann Loggie: John Beckington: Miles Ismay, master mariner; Andrew Murray, innkeeper: James Bishop, master mariner; Andrew Bell. tallow-chandler; John Common, tailor: Cuthbert Johnson, tobacconist; Edward Aitkine Davidson. grocer; John Reed, shipwright; Captain John M'Kenzie, of Perth: George Wilson, bricklayer: William Cathey, tallow-chandler; Walter Shields, warehouseman: Mansfield Gibson, of Elswick; N. F. Bowmaker, tailor; John Barry, a native of Pigri in Italy; Alex. Petree: Janet Jack; William and Allison Halbert: Kenneth M'Kenzie; Andrew Sessford, schoolmaster; James Fairweather, mariner; Alexander Russell, fruiterer; Robert Sinclair, master mariner, of Kirkwall; James Leslie, baker; Matthew Hall. smith; Thomas Atkinson, tailor; John Craig, cabinet-maker; James Wakenshaw, tailor; John Summerville, grocer; Alexander Wilson, tobacconist; Thomas Angus, printer; William Chapell, cutler; George Hodge, brewer; Robert Nichol, baker; Lewis Chapman, innkeeper; Benjamin Spoor, bottle-maker; James Moreland, linen-draper; Robert Millan, innkeeper; Aaron Scott, master mariner; Thomas Gray, tobacconist; John Murdock, rope-maker; George Wight, baker; John Read, master mariner; John M'Leod, brewer; John Hogg, mercer; John Harvey, tobacconist; James Anderson, malt-maker; Alexander M'Kenzie, tin-plate worker; Thomas Davison, merchant; James Morrison, heel-maker; George Kidd, miller; William Robson, tin-plate worker; Dougal Robertson; George Scotland; Robert Rowley; John Hood; James Faddy; Robert Colhoun.

Photographs of the Burial Ground














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