Tag Archives: blean

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.

Exploring the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families at the LFHC

19 Mar

The reason I visited the London Family History Centre yesterday (other than to use up the last of my holiday entitlement before the end of the month) was to do some basic investigations into the NICHOLLS and DRAPPER families from Kent.

There were only two films that I wanted to look at, the parish registers  for Blean and Chiddingstone both in Kent. Technically speaking the film for Blean was of the Bishop’s Transcripts and not the actual registers, but at this stage it is not really that important. I am still finding my way in these families, trying to get a feel for what I am dealing with and hoping to find some further proof that I have the correct families.

In Chiddingstone I had expected to find the marriage of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER (my 4x great-grandparents), Martha’s baptism record (and those of her siblings) and possibly the marriage of her parents. In Blean I was hoping to find a baptism for Ellen NICHOLLS (my 3x great-grandmother) and a burial for Thomas NICHOLLS.

What I actually found was not quite as I had expected, but that is not to say that it was a bad thing. In Blean I found a baptism for Ellen, except it was Eleanor not Ellen, but everything else matched. There was a burial of a Thomas NICHOLLS, but he was an infant (clearly I am going to need to search again for his death).

The biggest surprise to me was to find the likely baptism for Thomas NICHOLLS and his siblings in Blean. I hadn’t really considered why Thomas and Martha were in Blean, but it makes perfect sense that this was where Thomas came from. Likewise Chiddingstone was supposed to be the place where Martha came from.

I could find no trace of Martha’s baptism in Chiddingstone, although some of her sibling’s baptisms were there. There was no sign of her marriage to Thomas or of her parent’s marriage, but I did find the marriage of one of her sisters that is particularly helpful. Jane DRAPPER married James BARNES in Chiddingstone on the 12th October 1841 and one of the witnesses was Thomas NICHOLLS, which further cements the family relationship.

So a few of the records I had hoped for didn’t turn up, but I certainly didn’t go away empty-handed or disappointed. It has helped clarify a few points and disproved  a few others. It was no accident that Thomas and Martha were in Blean and the DRAPPER family may not have been so firmly rooted in Chiddingstone as I had first imagined.

The next step is obvious to me now, I had hoped to find the Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER and save the cost of ordering a certificate, but clearly I am going to need to do that now. That should confirm whether the baptism I found for Thomas in Blean is the correct one and also point to the likely place for Martha’s baptism.

It may have been a complicated theory, but I think it was correct

15 Mar

Last week I described a rather complicated theory about the birth of Ellen NICHOLLS my 3x great-grandmother. I took a chance and ordered one of the two likely birth certificates. The certificate arrived yesterday and it looks like the gamble paid off.

The unnamed girl was born on the 27th March 1847 in Blean, Kent. Her parents were Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha NICHOLLS formerly DRAPPER, the parents were the two that I had hoped for.

The birth was registered a whole month after she was born, so I find it very hard to explain why they still did not have a name for their daughter a whole month after she was born.

I am pretty confident now that my theory is correct, Thomas and Martha had three children (all daughters) and my Ellen NICHOLLS was born in Blean and not Chiddingstone, Kent. The unnamed girl is almost certainly the 4-year-old Ellen NICHOLLS living with her uncle and aunt James and Jane BARNES.

I need to check the parish registers for Blean to see if the unnamed girl was actually baptised there, and whether she had been given a name then. Also I need to check if her father Thomas was also buried there. Then I need to get into the parish registers for Chiddingstone to confirm that Jane BARNES was actually Martha’s sister.

There should be plenty of DRAPPERs in the Chiddingstone parish registers that need extracting and entering into my database, hopefully including Martha’s parents and her marriage. I am not sure where Thomas comes from, but hopefully the marriage entry should give me enough clues to make a start tracing his parents.

Ellen NICHOLLS: a rather complicated theory

9 Mar

Ellen NICHOLLS, my 3x great-grandmother, has so far been one of my trickiest ancestors to track down. I wrote yesterday about what I do know, which is mainly that she and William GEERING had some children and some years later she died.

From the census I have a date and place of birth (c1847, Chiddingstone, Kent) and back in 2009 I put together a family tree which looked plausible, until I discovered that the Ellen NICHOLLS I was looking at died aged 2 years and 9 months. Clearly not my 3x great-grandmother.

Oddly enough though I think I still have the correct pair of parents. They are Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER, who married in Q1 1840 in the Sevenoaks Registration District. Chiddingstone is in Sevenoaks Registration District, but I haven’t actually requested a copy of the marriage certificate or searched for the parish register entry yet. I don’t want to start heading down that road until I am happy that I have the correct set of parents, although it is nice to know that a certificate (with fathers’ names) is waiting to be ordered once I am certain.

I already have a fair bit of information on Martha’s family because she and Thomas are living with them in 1841, on the census is Martha’s father (George) and at least five siblings. Thomas is listed as an excavator, which suggests to me that he was working on building the railway from Redhill to Tonbridge.

Thomas and Martha had two children Ellen (in 1842) and Mary (in 1845), both baptised in Chiddingstone, unfortunately Ellen was buried at Chiddingstone on the 7th February 1845. That wasn’t the only tragedy, because by the time the 1851 census comes around Martha is a widow, and she is working as servant in Penshurst, Kent, without any sign of children.

Her daughter Mary turns out to be living with a family by the name of COLLISTER in Bletchingly, Surrey. She is shown as a nurse child of John and Mary COLLISTER. In Q3 1849 both John COLLISTER and Mary Ann DRAPPER were married in Godstone Registration District (hopefully to each other) and I suspect that Mary Ann is Martha’s sister.

Also in 1851 there is an Ellen NICHOLLS living with James and Jane BARNES in Seasalter, Kent. Ellen is shown as the niece of James and Jane, and once again I suspect that Jane is another of Martha’s sisters. James BARNES and Jane DRAPPER were both married in Q4 1841 in Sevenoaks Registration District.

I believe this Ellen NICHOLLS is my 3x great-grandmother, in 1851 her age is given as 4 years, which would mean she was born around 1847. Her place of birth is given as Blean, Kent which doesn’t fit quite so well. I seems to me quite likely that the second Ellen NICHOLLS was named after her deceased older sister.

It also seems reasonable that given the upheaval in the early years of her life that she was not really aware of where she was born or even who her parents were. Her sister Mary was born in Chiddingstone, but not Ellen herself although she may have known that her mother’s family at least came from Chiddingstone.

The big problem with this is that there is no birth registration in the GRO indexes in Sevenoaks or Blean Registration Districts for Ellen NICHOLLS around 1847. There are however two registrations for a female NICHOLLS, one in the first quarter and one in the second quarter of 1847 in the Blean Registration District. I am hoping that one of these girls will have Thomas and Martha as parents, even if they hadn’t decided on a name for their daughter yet.

Interestingly there is also a death registration for a Thomas NICHOLLS in Blean Registration District in Q1 1848, could this be the death of Ellen’s father? He must only have been in his late twenties when he died, so there must be an interesting story there.

There is lots of uncertainty in all of this, lots of ifs and buts, but it all goes together far too well. A lot of the relationships need proving but I feel I have enough evidence to build a very strong case that the 4 year old Ellen on the 1851 census is my 3x great-grandmother.

It would be very easy to use this information to go back from Thomas and Martha, but having been caught out once (with the death of the younger Ellen) I need to be 100% certain.

My next step is to get copies of the two birth certificates and hope that one of those has the names Thomas and Martha on it. Then I need to use that to try to find a baptism record, hopefully they would have settled on a name for their daughter by then.

Last night I ordered one of the certificates (the one from the second quarter of 1847) hoping that I strike it lucky with that one and save the cost of a second certificate. Now I need to wait patiently for the postman to bring it and hope that it brings the news I am after!

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