The Glasgow Necropolis was opened in 1832, in response to the creation of the magnificent Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. It was built on land owned by the Merchants’ House which had previously been used as a pleasure garden and arboretum. Although dominated by the earlier monument to John Knox, founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, the cemetery was always designed to be inter-denominational. A small plot had been sold to the Jewish community in 1830 and the first burial in the Glasgow Necropolis was a member of their congregation.
The cemetery was laid out as an informal park, with each area designated by a letter of the Greek alphabet. The most prestigious, and hence most expensive, burial places are those clustered round Knox’s monument at the top of the hill.
Nearly every eminent Glaswegian who died between 1832 and 1867 is either interred in the Glasgow Necropolis or named on a monument. There are some 3,500 headstones and other architectural burial markers, but as many as 50,000 people are interred there, mostly in unmarked graves. After 1900, the use of the cemetery declined and only one tomb was built after that time.
The Glasgow Necropolis holds twenty Commonwealth service personnel, sixteen from WW1 (including a Canadian) and four from WW2. These graves can be viewed here.
In 1966, the Merchants’ House gave the site, together with endowments, to the City of Glasgow Corporation to maintain and manage. The Friends of the Glasgow Necropolis is a charitable organisation, the aim of which is to conserve and promote the cemetery through fund raising, tourism and other activities that will sustain this wonderful asset.