Tag Archives: death certificate

Carved in stone, but that doesn’t make it correct

24 Dec

On Monday I wrote about John FAIRS, my 4x great-grandfather. I mentioned that his headstone records that he died on the 11th March 1846 and that the parish register recorded that he was buried on the same day.

I was rather suspicious of this, it seemed plausible that he died and was buried on the same day but it seemed unlikely and incredibly efficient of all the people involved, including the people who had to dig the grave.

A much more likely explanation was that one of the records was wrong, either the wrong date had been carved on the headstone or the officiating minister had recorded the wrong date in the burial register.

Given that John died aged only 41 years I felt that there could be an interesting story behind his death, so I decided it would be worth ordering a copy of his death certificate. I was astonished to receive the certificate in the post today, having only ordered it on Monday evening (excellent service from the GRO and the Royal Mail).

The certificate revealed the truth, John FAIRS died on the 7th March 1846 not the 11th March, so the inscription on his headstone is wrong.

Disappointingly the cause of death was not very exciting, the cause given is “Acute Gastritis 48 hours” according to Wikipedia Gastritis is “an inflammation of the lining of the stomach”. Not particularly exciting or unusual, Wikipedia does also say that “the main acute causes are excessive alcohol consumption”, so maybe it was alcohol that caused his premature death?

Regardless of the cause of his death, this story does prove one thing, even if it is carved in stone it is not necessarily true.

Death certificate of Ann GEERING

16 Apr

It seems every month I describe a certificate I have received as the most important one for my research or the most interesting one. The death certificate of Ann GEERING certainly fits into both categories, as it has given me critical evidence about my GEERINGs.

This has been the only certificate I have ordered this month, not because of the price increase, but because I wasn’t really sure which, if any, I would need next.

I mentioned the discovery of an Ann GEERING in Lewes, Sussex in the 1841 census in a previous post. This lead me to wonder whether she was my 5x great-grandmother, the wife of James GEERING, who I had previously thought had died much earlier.

The certificate provides enough evidence for me to safely say that Ann was my 5x great-grandmother. Ann GEERING died on the 2nd May 1844 in Lewes, Sussex. The cause of death seems rather unusual to me, paralysis was the official cause, but there is no suggestion as to how this paralysis came about or whether it had been a long term medical condition.

The death was registered by Eliza GEERING of St Johns, Lewes who was present at the death. Eliza is probably my 4x great-grandmother, wife of Richard GEERING. Ann had been living with Richard and Eliza (and their children) in 1841.

The really important piece of information was her occupation, she is described as “Wife of James Geering Chemist”. I have no doubt that this is James GEERING (my 5x great-grandfather) from Hailsham, Sussex. This fact provides me with the link between the GEERINGs in Hailsham and Lewes that I have been looking for.

Now I also have an age at death for Ann, from which I can calculate an approximate year of birth, which I had previously not known. Unfortunately it also raises the question that troubled me in my previous post, why were James and Ann seemingly living apart, and were buried in separate towns? Answers on a postcard please…

Death certificate of Jane GEERING (at last something interesting)

25 Mar

This is the third of this month’s certificate order, actually it is for Jane GEARING, but hopefully that is close enough for me to have the right person, probably the daughter of James GEERING my 5x great-grandfather.

This is by far the most interesting of the three certificates, but like the other two it doesn’t provide the evidence that I was hoping for. Jane died on the 15th September 1874 aged 76 years. Her occupation is given as singlewoman, which matches her census entries.

The place of death is the most interesting I have seen, usually it only gives a village or town, sometimes a workhouse or hospital if I am lucky. Jane’s certificate gives a very precise place of death, Common Pond, Hailsham.

The cause of death gives more clarification, “Found drowned in the Common Pond”. Not surprisingly the informant was the Coroner for East Sussex, after an inquest held on the 16th September 1874. The death was actually registered on the 21st September 1874.

This of course opens up more avenues of research, the official coroners report (if it survived) and any newspaper reports her death and the inquest. Also it poses so many questions. Was it suicide? Was it a tragic accident? How was she found? Had she gone missing?

Perhaps I shall never find the answers to these questions, but she has provided yet another interesting story, and of course more research to add to the growing to-do list.

The good news is that Common Pond, Hailsham still exists, although the common itself has all but disappeared.

Death certificate of Ann GEERING

24 Mar

The next of the three death certificates ordered this month is for Ann GEERING who I believe to be the sister of my 5x great-grandfather James GEERING.

Ann GEERING died in Hailsham, Sussex on the 2nd March 1864 aged 81 years. Her occupation is given as chemist, which is consistent with her census entries in 1841, 1851 and 1861. Her cause of death is given as enteritis (24 hours). Her death was registered on the 5th March 1864 by Sophia Roberts, who was present at the death.

I don’t know who Sophia Roberts is, whether she is related to the GEERING family or not, so I need to add her to my list of people in Hailsham to research.

There is a Sophia Roberts living in Hailsham in 1861, with her husband Charles and eight children. In the 1851 census Charles and Sophia Roberts are in Hailsham and his occupation is given as orange and nut dealer.

So another possible lead. Is there any significance in the name of informant on this (or James’) death certificate. Only time (and more research) will tell.

Death certificate of James GEERING

23 Mar

The earliest of the three death certificates I ordered this month was for James GEERING, who I believe to be my 5x great-grandfather.

James died on the 15th January 1850 in Hailsham, Sussex aged 73. His occupation was given as chemist, which agrees with the occupation given in the 1841 census. His cause of death was Chronic Bronchitis (3 years) and Influenza (3 days). His death was registered on the 19th January 1850 by James Martin of Hailsham who was present at the death.

I was hoping that the name of the informant would give me some evidence of a connection with the GEERING family in Lewes, Sussex. Unfortunately I have no James Martin in my family tree yet, but there are a couple of Martins living in Lewes with some of my relations in 1861, one of whom is identified as a grand-daughter.

The 1851 census shows 30 year old James Martin and his wife Martha living in Hailsham. He is shown as a master shoemaker and was born in Hailsham, and Martha was from Bermondsey, Surrey.

It is clear that I need to add this Martin family to my research as well now, another step towards building a community history rather than just my personal family history.

March GRO certificate order

15 Mar

I was a bit slow placing an order for this month’s ration of birth, marriage and death certificates from the GRO.

This month my three certificates are all going to be death certificates, all for GEERINGs and all from Hailsham Registration District. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, because I have no hard proof yet that these people are my relations (or in one case my ancestor).

The three certificates I have ordered are:

  • DEATH – James GEERING (Q1 1850)

James GEERING is probably my 5x great-grandfather, I am hoping that something on the certificate will link him to his known children in Lewes, Sussex. My hopes are not high for finding a link, more than likely the informant on the certificate will be his sister Ann or (possible) daughter Jane, both living in Hailsham at the time.

  • DEATH – Ann GEERING (Q1 1864)

Ann GEERING is probably my 6x great-aunt and sister of James GEERING above. I am not expecting to find much new information from her death certificate, the informant will probably be her niece Jane.

  • DEATH – Jane GEERING (Q3 1874)

Jane GEERING is probably my 5x great-aunt, the daughter of James GEERING and niece of Ann GEERING. As she appears to be the last of this particular branch of the GEERING family in Hailsham I am hoping that the informant might be another family member from somewhere else, but I fear that it will be one of the couple with whom she is living in the 1871 census.

So I am not very optimistic that any of these certificates will actually help with my research, but as clues are very few and far between, I need to make the most of any lead I have.

GRO certificate price rise

2 Mar

I suppose it had to happen, I have always thought that £7 a certificate was remarkable value, in fact too good to true.

As has already been noted by various bloggers and on mailing lists, the GRO have announced a restructuring of their charges. This has simplified the range of price options, but also means a price increase in most cases.

Instead of spending £7 per certificate it will now cost me £9.25 and I suppose that is still quite good value, but no one likes having to pay more for the same service, myself included.

I can’t help wondering if we are going to be paying for the failure of the digitisation project, and I wonder whether if the project had been completed on time and within budget, this increase might not have been necessary.

I have to be realistic though and accept that as the press release says "GRO certificate services are self-financing and costs must be recovered to ensure taxpayers do not subsidise them". As a taxpayer I feel that I am certainly getting my money’s worth by making use of libraries and archives.

So, what will this mean to me?

I don’t think I will be rushing to get any extra orders in before the 6th April 2010. What will probably happen however is that instead of limiting myself to three certificates a month, I shall probably limit myself to two certificates a month after April.

I am in the fortunate situation that at the moment that I don’t think there are any certificates I actually need. Recently the certificates I have been ordering have been solving specific problems with relations rather than direct ancestors.

Also I am fortunate that I don’t feel the need to find exact birth, marriage and death dates for all my ancestors. I know that before 1837 I am probably not going to get an exact date anyway.

What effect will this price rise have on your research? Will you try and get your orders in before the 6th April? Will you order fewer certificates or carry on as normal?

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