Old Christian Cemetery, Abbottabad

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The Old Christian Cemetery, Abbottabad (also known as the OCC, or the Gora Qabristan White-people's cemetery), is a cemetery situated in Abbottabad town, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North-West frontier Province), Pakistan. It dates from British colonial times.[1]

A grave at the OCC Abbottabad, 1853


The cemetery was established in 1853[2] when James Abbott (Indian Army officer) founded Abbottabad town itself and for long, it remained the main Christian cemetery in the town and for the nearby Galyat hill tracts[3] and was later attached to St. Luke's Church, Abbottabad when it was completed in 1864.[4] The cemetery contains many interesting old graves and memorials.[5] Most of these have Frontier military campaigns' connections and significance[6] for military historians, including the graves or tombs of Major Hugh Rees James,[7] Major Leigh Richmond Battye[8] and Colonel A W Crookshank, as well as others.[9] The Rev. Henry Fisher Corbyn, of the Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment, who spent long years here as Vicar, and who had previously served in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and established a 'charitable home' there at Ross Island (Andaman)[10] is also buried here. Also buried here is Lady Julia Helen Palmer (née Aylmer; died 1896) first wife of General Sir Arthur Power Palmer, a former Commander-in-Chief, India.[11]

Present status[edit]

Since Partition and Independence of Pakistan in 1947, the Old Christian Cemetery has suffered considerable neglect, due to various financial constraints upon the Church of Pakistan[12] and maybe around 70-80 of the older graves dating back prior to 1947, still survive and can be properly verified.[13] It is interesting to note that a family of Muslim caretakers lives within the precincts of the cemetery, who have been traditional caretakers of the site since circa 1902-1903,[14] prior to which time two retired Gurkha soldiers of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles used to tend to it, from around the 1870s onwards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tarin,O & Najumddin, S, 'Five Early Military Graves at the Old Christian Cemetery, Abbottabad, 1853-1888' in The Kipling Journal, UK, Vol. 84, No.339, December 2010, pp.35-52; ISSN 0023-1738
  2. ^ Tarin & Najumddin, p. 38
  3. ^ Although some few scattered graves are to be still found in several places in the district
  4. ^ Tarin & Najumddin, pp. 38-39
  5. ^ Irving, M & de Rhe-Philipe, Inscriptions on Christian Tombs and Monuments in the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province, Kashmir and Afghanistan, Orig. 1910-1912, 2 Parts; Reprint Aldershot, UK: Naval & Military Press, 2009, Part I, p.17
  6. ^ Irving & de Rhe-Philipe, Part II, p.19
  7. ^ Irving & de Rhe-Philipe, Part II, p.183
  8. ^ Irving & de Rhe-Philipe, Part II, pp. 21-22
  9. ^ For detailed list of tombs see Abbottabad, in Cemeteries List on main FIBIS UK Database http://new.fibis.org/frontis/bin/index.php Retrieved on 15 April 2012
  10. ^ 'Corbyn's Cove' there is also named after him. See George Weber Pioneer Biographies of the British Period to 1947, np, nd, Appendix A
  11. ^ FIBIS Cemeteries List, aa
  12. ^ Tarin & Najumddin, p.46
  13. ^ Whereas local church records show more than 300 burials between 1853 and 1947
  14. ^ Old church records, St. Luke's Church, Abbottabad