Key dates

1276
Statute of Coroners defines duties of the office of coroner

1538
Thomas Cromwell orders parish clergy to maintain registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths

1666 and 1679
Acts requiring burial in a woollen shroud (repealed in 1814)

1751
Coroners Act establishes system of fees for coroners

1752
Murder Act allows corpses of executed murderers to be given to Company of Surgeons for dissection

1823
Act banning the burial of suicides at crossroads and allowing burial at night in a churchyard, but without Anglican service. Normal burial was allowed 1882

1832
Anatomy Act stops practice of body snatching by teachers and students of anatomy and allows them to use unclaimed bodies from prisons, workhouses and hospitals

1832
Private Act for creation of London’s first cemetery at Kensal Green

1836
Coroners Act empowers coroners to summon medical witnesses to an inquest

1836
Births and Deaths Registration Act establishes a centralised system of registration

1852-55
Four Burial Acts establish national system of cemeteries

1857
Burial Acts Amendment Act consolidates earlier legislation, and requires the production of a licence from a Secretary of State before a body can be removed from a grave, except where a faculty is used

1860
Coroners Act provides coroners with salaries

1874
Births and Deaths Registration Act tightens loopholes in the process of registering deaths

1879
Public Health (Interments) Act obliges local health authorities to establish cemeteries if required

1880
Burial Law Amendment Act enabled nonconformists and Roman Catholics to be buried in Anglican churchyards without the need to follow the Anglican form of burial

1884
Disused Burial Ground Act disallows new building or development on disused burial grounds

1887
Coroners Act carries out modest reform of inquest system

1894
Local Government Act transfers responsibility for cemeteries to local authorities

1894
Cardiff Corporation Act:  first legislation allowing a local authority to establish a crematorium. Eleven more local Acts are passed between 1896 and 1901

1902
Cremation Act gives general powers to all local authorities to establish local crematoria

1926
Coroners (Amendment) Act initiates important changes to inquest system

1926
Births and Deaths Registration Act closes remaining loopholes in legislation by requiring a death certificate before the burial of a body

1961
Suicide Act decriminalises the act of suicide, but creates new offence punishing those who assist in suicide or attempted suicide

1981

Disused Burial Grounds (Amendment) Act amends the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 

1988
Coroners Act consolidates earlier legislation concerning coroners and inquests

2004
Human Tissue Act establishes the Human Tissue Authority


 

Page last updated 1st May 2014