While there are still some small Hertfordshire villages where burials still take place in the parish churchyard, in most towns these ran out of space in Victorian times, and a corporation cemetery was opened. Sometime this has also filled up, and a newer cemetery has been opened. A churchyard may have been indexed by the Hertfordshire Family and Population History Society, but larger town cemeteries are less likely to have been.
Church of England burial registers are archived at HALS, but the current register will be in the church - and for a very small village parish the earliest entries in the current register may be over a century old!
The modern town cemetery will be run by the current district council, who should have an index to all the graves - so that if someone wants to be buried in a family grave they know where to put the body. The website addresses of the Hertfordshire Borough Councils is on the Hertfordshire County Council page. Following personal enquiries I have been provided with a map of the cemetery, and a plot number which enabled me to locate a grave with no memorial stone. (Many plots are now "sold" on a 50 year lease - so it can be reused by someone else after that period. This is more likely to happen with unmarked plots.
Many cemeteries were laid out the graves in such a way that people from the same religious belief were buried together.
You should not forget that, particularly in recent years, cremation has become increasingly common, although it was rare before the 2nd World War. In some cases the ashes were simply scattered and there may be no record of the location. For instance it is perfectly in order for a widow to use her husband's ashes to fertilize his favourite rose in the garden. Some people may even keep the ashes of a loved one in an urn in their house.
In the last 20-30 years a number of churches and cemeteries have opened memorial gardens with small plaques where the ashes are buried.
Churches and Crematoria often have a "Book of Remembrance" which is often on display in a case open on the current day. This is an optional extra so not everyone is in it.
If you know the date and place of death there may be a death notice, obituary, etc., in the local newspaper, which may give details of the funeral/memorial service and the disposal of the body - and most likely some other information.
In making any request the more information you can give about the death the better - and if the date of death is uncertain it is worth checking the Civil Registration Indexes or the Will Indexes. Copies of older indexes are now available worldwide through the LDS libraries and many major genealogical libraries. A Will may include the deceased wishes for burial - and will provide other information about the deceased - quite possibly including details of next of kin and other surviving friends and relatives.
For deaths within the last 50 years or so it may be worth writing a letter to the local press asking if anyone remembers the deceased.
Our family may not be typical - but in the last 25 years we have said farewell to six members of the immediate family (4 parents, 2 daughters). All were cremated. Three had their ashes scattered at a crematorium by the staff without the family being present (in one case at a different one to the one where they were cremated). Two had their ashes privately scattered, and one had their ashes buried in a grave plot with a headstone. I don't think there is an entry in a Book of Remembrance at any place and apart from the plot with the headstone no visible record exists on the ground.
See also Burials, The Condition of Hertfordshire Graveyards and Town Cemeteries
This is a new web site which plans to provide council burial records of town cemeteries, etc. Searching is free but you need to join the site in order to see the original documents, grave yard plans etc. At the moment coverage of Hertfordshire is limited to Broxbourne (25,291 burials between 1855 and 2003 at Bury Green Cemetery, Cheshunt, and 11,221 burials at Ware Road Cemetery, Hoddesdon). I understand some of the Dacorum Borough Council records for Heath Lane and Woodwells Cemeteries, Hemel Hempstead, Kingshill Cemetery, Berkhamsted, and Tring Cemetery will be available shortly. [From Blog, 25 March, 2011]
Page updated August 2008