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.

3 Responses to “The death certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS”

  1. Pam Jordan Steward May 24, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Hi John, I don’t know if this will help much but my ggg grandfather George Drapper living at Bassetts Causeway, Chiddingstone, Kent was living there as a widower with 5 of his children in the 1841 census. My gg grandfather is living next door….William Drapper. Either living with George Drapper as lodgers or living next door is Thomas Nicholls age 20 and Martha Nicholls age 20. Thomas given his occupation as Excavator. I’ve been told that a lot of excavators worked on the causeway at Chiddingstone.
    My gg grandfather William aged 25 (also on this same page of the census) moved to a village called Tyler Hill but sometimes was called Blean, St. Stephens or Hackington, all being the same smallish area. Its about 1 1/2 miles from Canterbury. So its possible that Thomas – and Martha? moved to Blean when William did. Also, you say that Thomas was a platelayer on the railway. I would say that when he moved to Blean he worked on the Whitstable to Canterbury line. Its the first goods railway in the world and was built in 1838 and ceased to be a railway in the 1950s. You also mention a Martha Drapper. ~Could she be the Martha Nicholls in 1841 and maybe the sister of Thomas so married one of my Drapper’s. Forgot to mention that my Grandfather worked as a platelayer at Tyler Hill. Anyway, hope this has been a little help to you. Please let me know what you think. Pam

    • John Gasson May 25, 2011 at 7:29 am #

      Hi Pam, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      I have the marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER and her father was George DRAPPER, who was almost certainly your ggg grandfather.

      I agree with what you say about the railways, I suspect that Thomas worked first on the construction of the Redhill to Tonbridge line and then on the Whitstable to Canterbury line, probably after it was taken over by the South Eastern Railway in 1844.

      I had expected to find some family connection either through the DRAPPER and NICHOLLS family that llead to the family moving to Blean, and it looks like your gg grandfather William was probably that connection.

      Please feel free to send me an email and we can see if there is any more information we can share, but I’m afraid I don’t have much more information on the DRAPPER or NICHOLLS family at the moment.

      • Pam Jordan Steward May 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

        Hi John, Thanks for replying to my email. Yes, I have recently found out that Martha Nicholls nee Drapper is the daughter of my ggg grandfather George. Her christening at Chiddingstone was on March 7th 1821.

        I didn’t take too much notice of the names but yesterday I was looking up my gg grandfather William Drapper born at Chiddingstone and I was looking for his name on the Tyler Hill/Blean census so it would have been 1851 – 1881 (sorry I can’t remember which) you may already know this but I found a family of Nicholls there. If you type in William Drapper the Nicholls were on the same page. Sorry I’m not sure which decade it is but its definitely not 1841. It could hopefully be your family.

        I do believe that it was William who moved to Tyler Hill first with his family (more were born there)
        There were farms round the village and woods. Quite a few of the family worked as woodmen as did William. As far as I know they were the first of my ancestors to move there, my Dad was also born there and the family were living in the village for over 100 years.

        With best wishes,


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