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Jeanette Pickersgill

Jeanette Pickersgill (died March 20, 1885) was an English painter, She was the first person to be legally cremated in the United Kingdom, at Woking Crematorium in Surrey.[1]


She was born Jeannette Caroline Grover, circa 1814 in Amsterdam. She married the artist Henry Hall Pickersgill on 20 July 1837 at St Anne's, Soho. He died 7 January 1861.[2]

She published a volume of poetry in 1827 entitled Tales of the Harem.[3] She exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1848 and 1863. The Times described Pickersgill as "a well-known figure in literary and scientific circles".[4]

Cremation and aftermathEdit

The cremator at Woking Crematorium in the 1870s, before the chapel and buildings were constructed

Pickersgill was cremated six days after her death. The great concern at the time was that the person may not be actually dead, and the thought of being burned alive was too shocking for the Victorians to contemplate. Due to this concern, two doctors certified that Pickersgill was dead.[5]

The cremation took one hour and 15 minutes. The notes in the cremation register record that the remains were later taken, in the 20th century, to Golders Green Crematorium's East Columbarium.

By year's end, only three cremations had taken place out of 597,357 deaths in the UK. At that time cremation was championed by the Cremation Society of Great Britain.[6] By 1901, with six crematoria established, only 427 cremations took place out of 551,585 deaths - less than one-tenth of one percent. However, by the end of the century (2000), over 240 crematoria were in use. Over 70% of the deceased were cremated (437,609 out of 611,960 deaths).[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "How cremation became the way to go". BBC News Online. 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  2. ^ Vaughan, William. "Pickersgill, Henry William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22215.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "Object of the Month: Henry William Pickersgill RA (1782–1875), The Oriental Love Letter". Royal Academy website. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  4. ^ "Woking Crematorium". Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  5. ^
  6. ^ History of the Cremation Society of Great Britain
  7. ^ The Cremation Society of Great Britain - National Cremation Statistics 1960-2009