Wiki Tip—Get to Know the Sexton

March 7, 2013  - by 

Many articles in the wiki refer to a “Sexton”- especially in the British pages.  So, what is a sexton and why would that be useful information for a genealogist?

A sexton is a person who is in charge of a cemetery. The term can also refer to someone who has responsibility for the maintenance of the church building and/or the surrounding graveyard. In many cases, the sexton is the gravedigger. But more important for genealogists is his responsibility for keeping records of those buried in the cemeteries and those who have been moved to other cemeteries. A sexton records details about the number of lots and plots, the owners of each, and the details about people interred in the plots.  As the sexton does the maintenance for the cemetery, he becomes an expert on who is buried there, and he may have information about them that would be useful to a researcher.

Sexton records can contain a multitude of details that would help a genealogist who is looking for his family. These records shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when researchers have reached the awful “brick wall” that keeps them from finding what they’re looking for”.

In some cases, the records for cemeteries that are no longer active may have been given to a local genealogical society or historical society.

For more detailed information about the role of sexton and what help you can get from their records and expertise, see

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