Devon County Lunatic Asylum Exminster


Deceased Asylum patients not repatriated to their home parish were buried in one of three sites within the parish of Exminster. The earliest burials took place in St Martin's Church graveyard (& continued there intermittently until at least 19361). From 18462 to 1962 the greater majority of the burials took place in the Asylum Cemetery. Thereafter the burials took place in the Exminster Parish Cemetery.

For the Asylum Cemetery Index, until December 12th 1878 the date given is of death, thereafter the date given is of burial. Although the Asylum admitted the first patients in 1845 no records of patient burials survive before 1868, except those recorded at St Martin's. Grave numbers are listed in some of the asylum registers but have not been included as no complete plan of the Cemetery layout survives.

This index lists the asylum patient burials recorded in the three sites for the period 1845-1982 . It was compiled from the following sources deposited at the Devon Heritage Centre at Exeter.

3114A/PR/1/20 & 21St Martin's Church Exminster, Registers of Burials 1845-1936
3769A/H18/1 & 2County Asylum, Registers Of Discharges, Removals & Deaths 1868-1895
3769A/HR/5,6 & 7County Asylum, Registers Of Graves 1878-1900
3769A/HR/1,2,3 & 4County Asylum, Registers of Burials 1900-1964
5902A/PX/4/1Exminster Parish Cemetery, Register of burials 1958-1982

There is also a draft register 3769A/HR/8 for the Asylum 1934-1950, which lists besides name & burial date, the grave number, religion & whether a private or hospital coffin was used, but there are pages missing from this document. The registers 3769A/H18/1 & 2 also record the patients admission date & number; the cause of death, whether a private or hospital coffin was used & in relevant cases whether a post mortem examination was held.

As there is no continuous series of burial registers, the Asylum Cemetery Index 1868-1962 was compiled in the following manner from the sources listed below.

1868-1878Compiled solely from 3769A/H18/1
1878-1900Compiled from 3769A/HR/5,6 & 7 with age of death added from 3769A/H18/1 & 2
 (from 3rd Sept 1895 to 17th May 1900 age at death is not available in these documents)
1900-1962Compiled solely from 3769A/HR/1,2,3 & 4
1962-1982Compiled from 5902A/PX/4/1 & 3769A/HR/4

The index is set out in strict alphabetical order, by surname; then first, & second christian name; then by date. Patients with an alias have been indexed under both surnames. Comments in the Notes/Remarks column in square brackets are mine, all other comments are as they appear in the documents.

In the register 3769A/H18/1 between 1868 & 1878 there are 209 instances where the deaths do not record (as they should do in the observations column), whether the deceased patient was buried in the Asylum Cemetery or the body removed for burial elsewhere. I have included these in the Index because in the absence of documentary proof, I think it most likely that those not stated as being removed by friends, & cannot be identified as being buried in their home parish or at St Martin's were buried in the Asylum Cemetery. These cases are entered in italics & followed by the suffix [date is of death].

Jeff Ellis. Newton Abbot. October 2017.


1. End date of last deposited burial register for St Martin's Exminster is 1936 at the Devon Heritage Centre, as at October 2017.

2. I have found no definitive evidence of when burials began in the Asylum Cemetery, but it appears to have been opened in late 1846 or early 1847. (See QS 117/1 Report of Visiting Justices - Epiphany 1847).






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