When Richard Pratt first became a vicar in Carlisle at one of the oldest churches in the country, he remembers being initially fascinated and intrigued by requests from people looking to trace long lost ancestors or research their family history.
But the now Venerable Richard Pratt, Archdeacon of West Cumberland, admitted to i that it wasn’t long before he became so overwhelmed that he simply ignored and abandoned such inquiries.
“It was so time consuming, that I got to a point where I completely ignored them because I just didn’t have the time to deal with them,” he said.
“My job is to look after the living, not the dead. I simply didn’t have the capacity to look into these family history queries, as much as I wanted to help people, as it is so time consuming.”
Venerable Richard Pratt, Archdeacon of West Cumberland, says vicars are inundated with requests from people looking to trace the burial records and graves of ancestors – but these requests are time consuming to deal with (Photo: Aasma Day)
With many vicars looking after multiple churches with their own burial grounds, the time constraints faced by Archdeacon Pratt are mirrored all over the country.
But the growing popularity of genealogy and people attempting to trace their ancestors and find out more about their roots shows no sign of waning.
A mammoth project described as ‘Google maps for graves’ will take churchyards into the digital age meaning the task of tracking ancestors will become a lot…