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 an 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 Yagan’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.