Dissenters Burial Ground 1655

The Bun Hill Fields of North Eastern Wales

Dissenters Burial Ground, Rhosddu, Wrexham
Dissenters Burial Ground, Rhosddu, Wrexham

The Dissenters’ Burial Ground, Rhosddu Road, Wrexham, also called The Bun Hill Fields of North Eastern Wales. It is generally believed that it was laid out during the period of the Commonwealth and was acquired about 1655 by the congregation gathered and ministered to by Morgan Llwyd O Wynedd (1619-1659), authour of “Llyfr T Tri Aderyn” and other Welsh classics, who himself lies buried here. The bodies of many lie within it which makes its dust sacred, who in their lives cherished high thoughts, withstood temptation, and wrought righteousness. After his death the ground was maintained by the old meeting (Chester Street Baptist Church), successors to Morgan Llwyd’s congregation by whose consent, members of other dissenting bodies also use it for burial.

A statement made by Mr. Isaac Matthews, that on the 14th of March 1820, he found a gravestone in the ground bearing the date 1656. This stone can no longer be found, and it is therefore impossible to subject Mr. Matthews reading of it to criticism, but there is no reason to suppose that he was mistaken.

Next must be mentioned the tradition that Morgan Lloyd, who died in 1659, was buried within this graveyard. This tradition is clear and definite, and the stone which was supposed to mark the great mystic’s grave (with no more than the letters M.L. upon it), was still in existence within the memory of many.

It may be asked, what could have been the reasons which moved the Puritans of the Commonwealth time, who already had control of the churchyard, to establish another burial ground in the town? It would be difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this question, but it should be said that the Puritans of that time were divided into Independents and Presbyterians, and that for some years before the Restoration it was the Presbyterians who were predominant in the town, while the graveyard in question is supposed to have been laid out by the Independents.

The members of the Old Meeting have no papers to show how the burial ground came into their possession and their title to it before 1779 rested solely upon prescription. But there is no doubt that full rights of ownership were exercised within this burying place by the Old Meeting at the beginning of the 18th century, and it is described in 1697 as belonging to the Dissenters, or, at any rate, as used by them. It is certain, from the form of the graveyard, that it was originally a quillet enclosed out of the Common Fields of Wrexham, probably out of the field called ” Talar-y-geifr.”

In view of the large number of notable people that have been buried in the Rhosddu Road graveyard, it is very disappointing that no complete burial registers exist of the burials that have taken place in it. What makes matters worse is the wicked havoc made here among the memorials of the dead about 1848 when, on the night of Wrexham races, all the brasses in it, except for one, were sacrilegiously torn from the tombs stones and carried away, the memorials of many families being therefore being destroyed.

In the year 1857 the hedge around the graveyard was replaced by a wall; in 1883 a portion of it was surrendered, in order to widen Rhosddu Road; and in 1888 the graveyard had been, by an order in Council, finally closed, but a few later burials were permitted. The last burial being in 1901. In 1960 the ground was acquired by the Corporation and laid out as a park for the use of the Borough and in commemoration of one of its distinguished sons.

Sources: Burial Ground Plaque; AN Palmer; Graham Lloyd.