St Katherine's Churchyard

'Pages' of Canvey's History

A graveyard is not something most of us think about. It is there, we see it but we do not think about it.

St Katherine’s Churchyard 2008

St Katherine’s graveyard is not an ancient one, the first burial recorded took place in 1813, with early burials taking place at St Mary’s at Benfleet.  Not many 19th century headstones can be found and a lot of the 20th century headstones are no longer legible.

One of the earliest entries in the Burial Registers is that of Antonio Febrio, a native of what looks like ‘Almorca’ (not very clear), he died on board the Honourable East India Co Extra Ship ‘Regent’, bound from Bengal to London. The Master was James Haig. The date of burial was 26 September, the year is not clear but it was between 1813-1821.

To local and family historians a graveyard contains a wealth of information either about their own families or about the people who have lived in a particular location.

Memorial Inscriptions are like ‘pages’ of history and St Katherine’s graveyard contains many ‘pages’ of Canvey’s history. Together with the burial registers I have found several interesting ‘pages’ just waiting to be read.

There is Ebenezer Mather founder of the Fisherman’s Mission that I have written about in another article. What about Willoughby Collier MBE (Member of the British Empire) d 1943 aged 72.  I am sure there is a story to be told.  Major William Cragg SA d 1935 aged 78.  Does the SA stand for Salvation Army?

Then there are the war graves from both world wars. John E Battram d 1919 aged 24, a seaman on HMS ‘Kilkeel’.  Lesley N Carter d 1947 aged 27 of the Royal Scotts Guards. There are pilots and merchant seamen all with a story to tell. There is a memorial to a soldier who was killed at the Somme, Reginald McLean Scott.  Hugh Murray of the merchant navy, a fireman on the SS ‘Samlong’ who died in 1944 when the ship was badly damaged by a German torpedo boat off Normandy.

In the burial register I found Vincente Garcia who died in 1922 aged 21 from a Spanish ship. D M Dowd in his ‘Canvey Cyclopaedia’ writes ‘A 21-year-old Spanish seaman drowned off Hole Haven and was buried in St. Katherine’s churchyard by the R.C. priest, Father Gilbert, at a funeral attended by the crew of his vessel and a coastguard party, on 27/5/1922.   A number of men were killed outright when the SSs Matatua and American Merchant collided off Hole Haven the latter on its maiden voyage to Tilbury.

The Paulden Childrens’ memorial

The most poignant of all the memorials are the children’s, with some as young as a few weeks old.  Such as Frederick Finch of the Dutch Cottage aged 17 weeks he was buried on the 17 December 1919.

One memorial I found was to Peter Morley Paulden d. 1917 aged 3 years and 6 months and Jaqueline Murial Paulden d. 1919 aged 3 years and 4 months. Children of Alice and Morton Paulden.

The burial registers states that Jacqueline was buried 9th July 1919 and her abode was Cecil House, Canvey Island. Her brother Peter was buried on the 24 January 1917 his abode was stated just as Canvey Island.

So many stories, ‘pages’ of Canvey history waiting to be told.


You can find ‘St Katherine’s Churchyard’here where you can search by surname.

Comments about this page

  • I love the photos of St Katherine’s, how sad it looks without the tress. I married there 1959 with a row of beautiful trees leading to the porch. A big plus is the condition of the dear old church, it looks loved and cared for now.
    I miss going to my parents grave but lovely to know its being well looked after since I move UP North.

    By Margaret (27/01/2010)
  • Willoughby Collier was the son of John Jackson Collier, an accountant from Stockwell in London. He was also the uncle of novelist and screenwriter, John Collier (1901 – 1980). Interestingly, the central character in Collier’s now forgotten novel Defy the Foul Fiend is a young man called Willoughby Ollebare. In addition, Collier wrote the first screenplay for Jack Warner’s film The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Willoughby Collier appears on the 1891 census as a soldier. I hope this information will interest you and your devoted readers.

    By ian Smith (06/05/2011)
  • Many thanks Ian. Some of which I had but how did he end up on Canvey Island I wonder. I shall now investigate further

    By Janet Penn (06/05/2011)
  • When did the spelling of the Village Church change to Katherine instead of Catherine ?

    By val court (24/10/2013)
  • A note in the South Benfleet Registers records that the new chapel ‘by ye name of St Catherine’s Chapel’ was consecrated by the Bishop of London on June 11th, 1712′. In 1745 it became St Peter’s. Then in 1875 the new building was St Katherine’s. All according to Canvey Island and its Churches

    By Janet Penn (24/10/2013)
  • I am trying to find out about one of the graves in St Katherine’s  graveyard, Canvey Island. The grave is that of Henry JG Walker MN.  Can anyone help?

    By Jennifer (21/06/2014)
  • Does anyone know when the regulation preventing a book style tombstone came into force?

    By June Roberts (nee Geering) (09/08/2015)

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