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.