Tag Archives: death certificate

Finding Frank: his death certificate

27 Oct

One of the key pieces of information missing from the limited information available about the F TROWER recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was how old he was when he died.

It was fairly obvious that in the absence of helpful genealogical information (other than the name and address of his brother) that finding out when he was born was going to be especially crucial if I was going to place him in my family tree.

The most obvious way of finding this out was to order a copy of his death certificate. Yes, you can get death certificates for men who died during the First World War, they are not that different from a normal death certificate and can be ordered from the GRO website in a similar manner and for the same cost.

They don’t tell you a great deal more than what is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and in Soldiers Died in the Great War, but in my case Frank’s age was missing from both of these sources.

For Frank the following information was recorded, and as you can see there wasn’t really any new information other than his age:

Rgtl. or Army number: G/15980
Rank: Pte.
Name in Full (Surname First): TROWER Frank (13th Bn.)
Age: 36
Country of Birth: England
Date of Death: 19:6:1917
Place of Death: France
Cause of Death: Killed in action

So Frank was 36 years old when he died on the 19th June 1917, which in theory means that he was born between the 20th June 1880 (if he died on the day before his 37th birthday) and the 19th June 1881 (if he died on his 36th birthday) if my maths is correct. This fits quite nicely with the census information that I have which starts with a one year old Frank in 1881.

Unfortunately this doesn’t fits quite so well with the most likely Frank TROWER in the GRO Birth Indexes. The most promising match is a birth registered in Steyning Registration District (which included the parish of Hove) in Q4 1879. The next registration in the index is also in Steyning Registration District, but in Q2 1883 which is perhaps a little too late.

So although I have a good match with the census information, I don’t have a good match for his birth registration. I am not sure whether this is really a problem or not, we have to accept that things don’t always tie-up quite as neatly as we would like sometimes.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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The death certificate of Catherine GASSON

28 Aug

Catherine GASSON (née HOLMAN) was the wife of Henry GASSON, making her my 4x great-grandmother. I ordered her death certificate at the same time as I ordered Henrys and largely for the same reason, to make sure that I had found the correct individual.

Looking at the certificate there isn’t really any doubt. Catherine died on the 2nd December 1858 aged 64 years at Warninglid, Slaugham, Sussex. Her occupation is given as “Wife of Henry Gasson an Agricultural Laborer”. So her age, address and her husband’s name and occupation all match up.

The cause of death was recorded as “Disease of Liver 2 Years Jaundice Certified” and her death was registered by her husband Henry (who was present at the death) on the 6th December 1858.

So the certificate served it’s purpose, or at least the purpose I had intend. I am now confident that this Catherine was my 4x great-grandmother and was the same Catherine buried at Slaugham on the 12th December 1858.

The Warninglid mentioned on the certificate is a small community within the parish of Slaugham rather a particular house or farm, so the certificate doesn’t really help to pin-point where they were living a great deal, but it is better than nothing.

I am pretty certain that I have previously checked monumental inscriptions for St. Mary’s Church, Slaugham but I certainly need to check again and if possible make another visit to Slaugham and Warninglid. Last time I visited I was just passing through and not fully aware of the GASSON connections, now I have some concrete evidence I can go back and explore some more.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
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The death certificate of Henry GASSON

23 Aug

I’m taking a break from a bout of railway mania to have a look at the death certificate of Henry GASSON (my 4x great-grandfather) which arrived a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t expecting any big surprises with this certificate, but rather to be able to confirm that I was looking at death and burial of the correct Henry GASSON.

The certificate showed that Henry GASSON a farm labourer aged 78 years died of pneumonia on the 27th November 1862 at Stable Houses, Lower Beeding, Sussex. The death was registered on the 1st December 1862 by Edward GASSON of Nuthurst, Sussex who had been present at the death.

The certificate pretty much proved I had the correct details. The age ties up with my Henry, and the place of death ties up with the burial in nearby Slaugham, Sussex where his wife had been buried. Everything seems to fit together quite neatly.

As well as proving that I was looking at the correct Henry GASSON it has also added another detail to the story of Henry’s life, that is the address in Lower Beeding. I didn’t know that Henry had spent some time in Lower Beeding, although it must only have been a brief time because in 1861 he had been living in Slaugham.

A quick bit of map research revealed the likely location of Stable Houses, Lower Beeding and it turns out that I go past it every day on the bus on my way to work. When the weather dries up a bit I might have to get off the bus on my way home and get a photo or two.

I don’t yet know whether there were any other GASSONs living in Stable Houses, and the certificate has raised another question, who was the Edward GASSON who registered the death? It is most likely that he was the son of Henry GASSON but there may well have been other Edward GASSONs around that could equally have provided the information.

All in all buying this certificate was a worthwhile investment, it has allowed me to confidently tie-up the loose ends around the death of Henry GASSON and has given me another piece of information to add to the story of Henry’s life.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The death certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS

16 Apr

The death certificate for Thomas NICHOLLS arrived yesterday, and the question that stills needs to be answered is whether this is my Thomas NICHOLLS?

Looking at the columns one by one it seems that it is a good match, but I still have doubts.

According to the certificate Thomas NICHOLLS died on the 21st February 1848 in Blean, Kent. My Thomas NICHOLLS was last recorded at Blean at the baptism of his daughter Eleanor on the 27th June 1847 and by the 1851 census his wife was recorded as a widow. So the date and place fit with the known facts and don’t rule it out.

Not surprisingly the name and sex entries match. I did search for other variants of the name NICHOLLS and there didn’t seem to be any other likely matches, so whilst this conforms with the known facts it is not in itself conclusive.

Thomas’ age is recorded as 30 years and the only other record of his age is that in the 1841 census where he is recorded as being aged 20. If the enumerator record his age correctly then this should mean he was between 20 to 24 years old in 1841. This would mean that about seven years later in 1848 Thomas would be between 27 and 31 years old. So the age of 30 years when he died fits the known data, but once again is not conclusive due to the limited and potentially inaccurate data previously available.

The certificate records his occupation as “Plate Layer on the Rail[way]”. In 1841 my Thomas is recorded as an excavator, which I have taken to mean that he was working on the construction of the Redhill to Tonbridge Railway. It seems quite plausible that he had progressed to a slightly more skilled job within the railway. Again this seems a good match but the description on the 1841 census could be misleading.

The cause of death was Typhus Fever (not certified). I have nothing to compare this with so it is of no use in my comparison.

The informant on the certificate is a bit of a mystery, it is recorded as Mary Osman who was from Blean and present at the death, and she made her mark in the form of a cross rather than signing a name. I have no idea who Mary Osman was so I will need to investigate Mary further, but for now this doesn’t rule out that this was by Thomas but it does help prove it either.

The date of registration was the 25th February 1848, four days after his death, which is not unusual and the registrar looks to have been Hammond Hills. Neither fact is really relevant to my research, but are included for completeness.

So all in all the facts seem to fit, but it is hard for me to accept it as conclusive. The good news is that there is nothing that rules this Thomas NICHOLLS out, like being too young to have been married and had children, but there is equally nothing that provides a positive connection with the existing data.

Deep down I think that this is the right certificate and will probably use this as a starting point for further research, but until I can find more evidence there will always be an element of doubt in my mind. I will cautiously pursue this branch of my family tree, but be mindful of the fact that at some stage in the future further evidence may come to light which means it will need to be pruned back.

The satisfaction of a good death certificate

15 Apr

I think only a genealogist knows the joy and pleasure obtained from the arrival of a death certificate.

The arrival of death certificate for Thomas NICHOLLS today was just the shot in the arm this genealogist needed. It has been a busy week at work this week and I have returned home in the evenings exhausted, if not physically then at least mentally. Consequently I haven’t got around to doing much family history this week.

Despite arriving home to an overflowing water tank (fortunately outside, not inside) the sight of an envelope from the GRO stuffed through the letterbox was enough to raise my spirits.

After dealing with the water tank (and before getting something to eat) I turned my attention to the envelope and rather messily ripped it open. Only a genealogist will know the heart-stopping moment when you find out whether that £9.25 was wisely spent or not.

This £9.25 was a bit of a gamble, I would have liked to have lowered the odds a bit more, but ultimately I think the gamble paid off. There were no shouts of joy as I took in the details on the certificate, just some gentle head nodding and a few mumbled questions. Satisfaction!

Ordering the death certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS

10 Apr

I have written several times recently that I need to order the death certificate for my 4x great-grandfather Thomas NICHOLLS. This is because I need to find his age when he died and from that when he was born.

The problem is that I don’t really know enough about him and his death to order a certificate with any certainty, and please don’t take offence, but I don’t like wasting my money on other people’s ancestors.

I know he died between the 1841 census and the 1851 census, and the baptism of his youngest child was in June 1847, so in theory this narrows the date range down a bit. The fact that the place of this baptism was Blean, Kent points to two likely death registrations in the Blean Registration District.

The first is in Q1 1848 and the second is in Q4 1849. Whilst searching the Blean parish registers I found a burial on the 21st October 1849, but unfortunately the age at death was not clear. It looked like it was measured in days not years, but I couldn’t be certain.

So once again I left with a dilemma, which one (if either) of these two certificates is the one I want and when I do get one do I have enough information to be certain that I have ordered the correct one.

I guess there is only one way to find out, get out my credit card and order one of them.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 52

26 Dec

Week 52 by my reckoning must mean we are at the end of the year. I think I will save my review of the year for next weekend, but this week I will have a look at how I failed to achieve any of the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, but try not to beat myself up too much about it!

I had hoped I could get down to some serious family history last week, but that didn’t really materialise. Like the week before, I did a lot of thinking about family history but never really got around to doing anything about it. I did get the death certificate for John FAIRS ordered and received it by the end of the week, but that was about the limit of my family history.

Much of my thinking has been around what I am doing next and in the future. At the moment my research is lacking focus, I am really only working on one project at the moment (the housekeeping of my database) and that is not particularly exciting at the moment. My to-do list is growing, but I am not getting chance to explore much further. I feel I should be digging deeper and making opportunities to do more research.

This week, as well as looking back, I need to decide what I am going to try to accomplish in 2011. One plan has already had to be set back because Carlisle Record Office is now due to open in April next year, not January. I think my plan will be to continue with my housekeeping and see where that leads, but try to schedule in at least one day a month to visit an archive and clear some items off my to-do list.

With a couple of days off this week I hope I can get some more research done, but in reality I ought to be spending a large proportion of that time sorting out other non-genealogy stuff, but I will see how it goes.

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