A History of Everton Cemetery

Everton cemetery is actually situated in Fazakerley, more than three miles from the historic centre of Everton. The reason for this is that in 1876 the overseers of Everton parish determined to buy a sufficient quantity of land so that they had an exclusive area for burials, rather than rely on Liverpool’s Anfield cemetery. After an extensive search, they settled on 54 acres of farmland that were purchased from Mr Woodward for £12,000.

Preparation of the land began in August 1877 but a severe frost in the winter of 1878-9 delayed work and it was not until 16th July 1880, some months behind schedule, that the Church of England section was consecrated by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Roman Catholic consecration following five days later.

A man who was on the vestry board that oversaw the development of the cemetery and then played an important part in the history of both Everton and Liverpool football clubs is buried there. Brewer John Houlding lived in a house overlooking Stanley Park, which led him to develop an12210976464_45e80373bd_o interest in Everton who played there from 1878 to 1883. After spending one season at a field off Priory Road, Houlding arranged the lease of a piece of land that became the Anfield football ground and Everton’s home from 1884 to 1892. A dispute then arose over rent and the board members voted to move to a new ground at Mere Green which was renamed Goodison Park. Left with a ground that he now owned but no team Houlding formed Liverpool Football Club. Houlding died in 1902, a year after Liverpool had won the first of their eighteen league titles, and by then relations had thawed after the acrimonious split and players from both clubs carried his coffin at his funeral. Houlding was then interred in a family plot at Everton Cemetery.

In August 1914 a man looking for an escaped canary stumbled upon a tragedy at Everton cemetery when he found the bodies of two lovers. They were identified as William Holden and Ethel Frost, both of whom were deaf and had been intending to marry. However Ethel became friendly with another man and in a fit of jealousy William cut her throat with a razor blade before taking his own life. Anther murder victim buried in the cemetery is George Walker, an 82 year old who was battered to death in Warbreck Moor in 1953 in what became known as the Old Curiosity Shop Murder. His killer, twenty year old John Todd, was hanged for the crime.

In the 1st World War nearly 700 American servicemen who died whilst in Liverpool hospitals were buried at Everton cemetery. However after hostilities ended their remains were exhumed and either reburied in Brookwood American cemetery in Surrey or repatriated to the United States. Compared to some other cemeteries in Liverpool there are not so many war graves, with 55 from the 1st World War and fifteen from the 2nd World War.

In 1997 an unusual exhumation took place at Everton cemetery when the head of Yagan, an Aboriginal warrior was exhumed. A bounty had been placed on him after he killed several white settlers near Perth in Western Australia and after he was shot dead in 1833, his head was sent to London and eventually found its way to the Liverpool Museum. After being held in storage for a century it was buried in an unmarked grave in 1964 along with a Peruvian mummy and a Maori’s head. Aboriginal elders lobbied for its repatriation but this was complicated by the fact that twenty stillborn babies and two who had died soon after birth had been buried above it. With it being impossible to get permission from all 22 next of kin to disturb the remains, a six feet pit was dug alongside the grave and then Everton Cemetery Chinese memorialYagan’s head was exhumed horizontally. Even then the ordeal wasn’t over, as arguments over the most appropriate place form his burial in Australia meant this did not take place until 2010.

There are three distinct sections at Everton Cemetery- Church of England, Roman Catholic and General. Within the General Section is a dedicated area for Chinese graves and there is a memorial there to all Chinese people who have died in the United Kingdom. Every Spring and Autumn group visits are arranged to the cemetery by the Liverpool based See Yep Association, which represents the interests of those community members originating from the South West of China, to pay their respects.

There are not too many notable burials at Everton Cemetery but one significant grave is that of Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles who died in 1967 at the tragically young age of 32.

Everton Cemetery remains open to burials today. The main gates and stone piers at the Higher Lane and Long Lane entrances to Everton cemetery are now Grade II listed, being inscribed 1879. Also listed are the three lodges and one surviving chapel of the three that were originally built.

Memorial to the Pals Battalions

A new memorial to the brave Liverpool men who formed the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Pals Battalions of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment

Before World War I, the British Army had relied on professional soldiers to fight for king and country. But from the outset, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, believed that the way to victory lay in superior manpower. He began a massive recruitment campaign and one of the most successful contributions came from Liverpool. At Edward Stanley, the Earl of Derby’s suggestion, men were encouraged to volunteer alongside their friends and work colleagues, their ‘pals’.

Liverpool Pals on St George's Plateau

Liverpool Pals on St George’s Plateau

Liverpool set the example for the rest of the country. Within a few days of Lord Derby’s proposal, thousands of men had enlisted at St George’s Hall alongside friends, colleagues and workmates. The overwhelming response saw the creation of four new battalions: the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th.

The newly formed Pals Battalions swelled the ranks of the King’s Regiment (Liverpool), which itself had a proud history as one of the British Army’s oldest infantry regiments, founded in 1685. In recognition of Lord Derby’s role, the Pals volunteers wore an Eagle and Child cap badge, his family crest, rather than the King’s Regiment’s usual White Horse of Hanover.

Training was tough – equipment was scarce, and much time was spent digging on Lord Derby’s estate in preparation for the trench warfare was to come. In early November 1915, all four Liverpool Pals Battalions were sent to France. They acquitted themselves well, for example playing a significant role in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. But it came at a price. Over 200 Liverpudlians were killed on the first day in the capture of Montauban – one of the very few victories on a day which saw the British Army lose 19,240 soldiers in total. Five hundred more Liverpool Pals died in a subsequent failed attack in the village of Guillemont.

In all, the Liverpool Pals Battalions suffered more than 2,800 casualties during the course of the Great War. However, wherever these men fought, they maintained their reputation for bravery, toughness and camaraderie in the face of the enemy.

The tragedy of Pals Battalions was that, although men served with friends and colleagues, they also died alongside them, leaving home towns and cities decimated and devastated. By January 1916, conscription had been introduced instead; and many Pals Battalions, struck by such heavy losses, were amalgamated into other regiments.

But Liverpool’s brave men were among the last to be stood down at the end of the war, just as they had been among the first to step forward and fight for peace.

To commemorate the day when thousands of Liverpool workers volunteered to fight for the freedom of their fellow men, a 30ft bronze memorial frieze created by Tom Murphy will be unveiled at Lime Street Station on 31 August 2014. The memorial to the Pals Battalions has been commissioned by the Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund. We look forward to seeing this special monument to commemorate some of Liverpool’s bravest and finest sons.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Captain William Thomas Turner

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the sinking of RMS Lusitania, one of the worst casualties of WWI in which 1,198 people lost their lives.

Capt William Turner

Capt William Turner

Captain William Thomas Turner was her commander when she sank, torpedoed by a German submarine. This was just one incident in a life full of adventure and bravery, but one that haunted him until his death.

Born in Clarence Street, Everton in 1856, Will Turner followed in his father’s footsteps, embarking on a life at sea as a cabin boy at the age of just eight. When the barque he was on was wrecked in a gale off the coast of Ireland, he refused all offers of help and swam to shore himself. Over the coming years, he would escape further disasters, including being swept overboard, shipwrecks and yellow fever, but never lost his boyhood dream of becoming a ship’s captain.

He became known for acts of bravery, putting himself at risk to save others in danger, and won various accolades throughout his career from the Humane Society and the government for his role in the Boer War.

Finally in 1903, he achieved his goal, becoming captain of Cunard’s ship, the Aleppo. While he was loved by the men who served under him, Cunard often didn’t know what to make of him. His bosses respected his ability, but disapproved of his gruff and dismissive way with the passengers. For instance, he often refused to carry out the custom of dining with them at the Captain’s table. Oddly, though, this only seemed to endear him to the travelling public even more and they actively asked to sail with him! He built a reputation for the fastest sailings, with the quickest turnarounds at ports, too.

Will first took command of the Lusitania in 1907, and then after promotions to captaincy of the Mauretania and Aquitania, resumed his command over the doomed vessel in April 1915 after her previous captain had retired due to nervous exhaustion from the constant threat from German U-boats. Less than a month later, RMS Lusitania, with Captain Will Turner at her helm, fell victim to German submarine U-20. A significant factor in her terrifyingly fast sinking was thought to be the substantial cargo of munitions she was secretly carrying in support of the war effort. Another element was the fact that the Admiralty had seen fit to withdraw Lusitania’s escort ship, HMS Juno, despite being aware of the German presence in the area.

Memorial to Capt William Turner, Rake Lane Cemetery, Wallasey

Memorial to Capt William Turner, Rake Lane Cemetery, Wallasey

Reluctant to accept responsibility, the Admiralty openly and loudly blamed Turner, even going so far as to say he was in the pay of the Germans and had sabotaged his own ship. Although he was later cleared of guilt by the Mersey Inquiry and Mayer hearings, and awarded the OBE in 1918 for his war efforts, controversy dogged him even in retirement. Hounded by the press after Churchill repeated the allegations against him in his memoirs, he sadly died almost a recluse, bitter and still living in the shadow of the disaster, in 1933. He is buried in Rake Lane Cemetery in Wallasey.



Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

First World War Memorial Roll of Honour of Liverpool’s Military War Dead

Hall of Remembrance, Town Hall, Liverpool

Hall of Remembrance, Town Hall, Liverpool

There are many memorials to those who died during the Great War. One of the most notable ones in Liverpool is the First World War Memorial Roll of Honour of Liverpool’s Military War Dead. This is located in the Hall of Remembrance at Liverpool Town Hall in the city centre.

The original list was started during the war itself, when the names of locals who had been killed in combat were posted in a window overlooking Exchange Flags. As relatives were notified of their lost loved ones, they queued to add their names to ensure they were remembered for their sacrifice. Many served as members of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool), although there are also men with local connections who died in service in the armed forces of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and beyond.

The roll now stands at well over 13,000 names, all of which have been added to a searchable database here.

Among the names listed are many of Liverpool’s brave VC winners, such as:

  • Captain Noel Chavasse, the only man to be awarded the VC twice in WWI and who died from wounds sustained on the battlefield while rescuing wounded comrades at Passchendaele;
  • Lieutenant Edward Felix Baxter of the Royal Engineers, The King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, a former Isle of Man TT rider who lost his life at Arras, but not before he had won a VC for cutting barbed wire in front of German trenches for two nights running and leading a raiding party on the third; and
  • Sergeant Thomas Neely, who won a posthumous VC for rushing several enemy machine gun positions, single-handedly killing or capturing their operators and silencing their fire. He was killed four days later in the field while advancing on German positions at Rumilly.

Sadly, the list is by no means complete. Because entry onto it depended on relatives making the notification, there are of course many who have been missed, for various reasons However, year on year, people continue to add their ancestors’ names, making it a living memorial to those who died so that we could live in peace. This year alone, at least a further 37 names have been added as keen historians and genealogists discover more about their forefathers and seek to get them recognised for paying the ultimate sacrifice.

You can have the name of your relative added by applying to the Town Hall with evidence of his connection with Liverpool.

Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.

Liverpool shipowner Sir Percy Elly Bates, 4th Baronet

12 May 1879 – 16 October 1946

Sir Percy Elly Bates - Portrait

Sir Percy Elly Bates – Portrait

Percy Bates was the second son of Edward Percy Bates and grandson of Sir Edward Bates, 1st Baronet and a Conservative Member of Parliament. He dedicated much of his life to ship-building and in his role as Chairman of the Cunard-White Star Lines in later life, his policies were credited with leading towards the construction of some of the most famous passenger ships in history, including the original Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I vessels.

Percy was born in Wavertree, Liverpool in 1879 and was first apprenticed to William Johnston & Co, a Liverpool shipbuilder; later joining the family firm Edward Bates & Sons after the death of his father in 1899. He became 4th Baronet after his elder brother, Edward Bertram Bates, died of enteric fever in India in 1903 and in 1910, he took up a role as a director of Cunard. When the First World War broke out, his experience suited him for service in the Transport Department of the Admiralty and he later rose to become Director of Commercial Services with responsibility for shipping civilian supplies in the newly-formed Ministry of Shipping. He was knighted for his services in 1920.

Percy served as High Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in Cheshire. But it wasn’t all work: he was also interested in literature and was an occasional member of The Inklings, the Oxford literary society which boasted JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis amongst its membership.

His only son, Edward Percy Bates, served as a pilot officer in the RAF in WWII and was killed on New Year’s Day 1945 while flying over Germany. His war grave is in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Germany.

Sir Percy Elly Bates' Grave, Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool

Sir Percy Elly Bates’ Grave, Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool

Sir Percy died a year later. After suffering a heart attack while in his office on 14 October 1946, he died at home on 16th October, the day he was supposed to have attended the launch and maiden voyage of his ship, The Queen Elizabeth. He is buried in Childwall Churchyard, Liverpool.


Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.