Tag Archives: kent

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.

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.

Is Compasses pointing me in the right direction?

6 Apr

I like to know about the places my ancestors lived and worked, and if possible go and visit those places and explore the area, but until the other day I don’t think I had ever come across a situation in my research where an address has potentially solved a mystery for me.

I was looking the problem of Thomas NICHOLLS (my 4x great-grandfather) of Kent, hoping to be able to find his parents. I know his father’s name and a rough period for his year of birth. Whilst searching the IGI I came up with a possible baptism in Leigh, Kent. Thomas’ wife ended up living in Leigh when she re-married after his death and it is next door to Chiddingstone where Thomas and Martha had a couple of children. The connections with Leigh were strong enough to investigate this baptism record further.

The parents of this Thomas were James and Grace NICHOLLS and I hoped that they might still be alive in 1841 so that I could find them in the census. There were no obvious hits for them in Kent, either as a couple or as individuals, so I decided to change my approach. I decided to switch to the old-fashioned way of doing things, searching the census page by page, line by line, looking for any clues to their whereabouts. Leigh was a fairly small place in 1841 and it didn’t take long to find a pair of NICKELS children living with Joseph and Grace STONE in one of several properties in Leigh called Compasses.

Of course no relationship is shown in the 1841 census, but the age difference between Joseph and Grace led me to believe that this was Grace NICHOLLS, but having lost her husband she had re-married and the two children were from her first marriage. The IGI shows a marriage for Joseph STONE and Grace NICHOLLS in 1833 in nearby Sundridge, Kent (where Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER were married) but it doesn’t tell me if she was a widow or not.

So it looks to me like James and Grace NICHOLLS were married and had at least three children (including a Thomas, but not necessarily my Thomas). James then died and Grace re-married. Her two young children came with her when she married. The problem is the “not necessarily my Thomas” bit, as far as I can see there is only one piece of evidence to link my Thomas to James and Grace.

Joseph and Grace STONE were living at Compasses, Leigh which is the same group of properties where Thomas’ wife ended up living. It could just be a coincidence because there are several properties of the same name, but it gives the strongest evidence so far of a connection. Without more evidence I can’t be absolutely positive, but it is certainly worth investigating further.

It is almost certainly worth investigating the place as well as the people, if rate books are available for the parish I might be able to fill in the gaps between the census and see if there was a period of continuous habitation by the NICHOLLS family. They almost certainly wouldn’t have owned the property, instead it was probably tied to a job at the local farm.

I will also “adopt” this new family and try to find out some more about them. Trying to find a link from that family to mine whilst continuing to work the other way from my known ancestors. I can’t believe just how complex this little branch of my family tree is becoming, things seem to be slotting together far too neatly for my liking.

The contrasting DRAPPER and NICHOLLS families

3 Apr

So far my research into the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS (my 3x great-grandmother) has provided a contrasting picture of the families of her parents. The contrast stems from the fact that I know a lot about her mother’s side of the family (DRAPPER) and almost nothing about her father’s side of the family (NICHOLLS).

Almost everything I know is about the DRAPPER family. Starting with the marriage of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER in 1840 where both of the witnesses were DRAPPERs. In the 1841 census Thomas and Martha are living with the DRAPPERs (her father and siblings). After the death of Thomas (before 1851), Martha and the two children are living with various DRAPPER families.

All I know about the NICHOLLS family is that Thomas’ father was James. I don’t know the name of Thomas’ mother or have the names of any of his siblings. This obviously poses a major problem as I am not even sure when and where Thomas was born.

It would be easy for me to jump to conclusions and assume that there was some sort of division between the families, but in reality it is almost certainly down to a lack of data, and the fact that all these events (marriage and census) only provide us with a snapshot of their lives. I have no idea what else was going on between these events.

The good news is that I think I might have a lead on Thomas’ parents, the problem is that at the moment I don’t see any way of proving the connection, but you never know something may present itself as I keep on digging.

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER

1 Apr

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER arrived last Saturday whilst I was enjoying myself at Haywards Heath and to be honest I was a little disappointed by the result.

Most of what I knew was correct, the date was the 21st March 1840 not the 15th as I had expected, but that was really the important bit.¬† The important information was the name of the bride and groom’s fathers.

From the census I already knew Martha’s father was George DRAPPER (the certificate confirmed this) but it was Thomas’ father I was most interested in. He was named as James NICHOLLS, a labourer. This was a bit of a set back because I was hoping it was going to be Joshua. I had found a very likely looking baptism for Thomas (and several other siblings) in Blean, Kent but his parents were Joshua and Mary NICHOLLS.

Of course it is always possible that the marriage certificate was wrong, possible but unlikely. Unfortunately this little project is not working out quite as nicely as I had hoped.

I really need to find out a more exact birth date for Thomas. All I have at the moment is the 1841 census where he is recorded as 20 years old, but this may or may not have been rounded down correctly. The marriage certificate just gives both bride and groom as being of full age.

The next step is to investigate Thomas’ death, to pinpoint the date of his death and how old he was when he died and if I am “lucky” there might also be an interesting cause of death to follow-up.

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