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Death certificates; what's the use?

Minden

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#1
I rarely use death certificates in my fmily history search, because they seem so hit-and-miss. Usually I don't care when people died, anyway.

At the moment I'm hunting around the 1890's-1910's, and my relatives might have died then, but might not. I have suitable names on ancestry, but I'm reluctant to stump up £7 a go for what may be very little information, even if I get the right person.

If someone dies while living with their parents, then that shows up on the certificate, but if they're single and have moved away, presumably there's no information regarding who the parents are. Is this correct? Are they any practical use at confirmig relationships?
 

dochines

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near Boston Lincolnshire
#2
Can I put the opposite view about the value of death certificates. They may not help a great deal in creating the basic skeleton of a family tree but they are ander used resource.

Apart from the obvious name and place of death ,the informant can often provide important clues as to who was important to that individual at the end of their life.

As medical records are becoming more and more available once they are more than 100 years old it will be more possible to obtain hospital records which potentially reveal a lot of personal and medical information.


If the individual met a sudden or violent death there would usually be an inquest. Coronors records although not complete again often give a good story about the deceased death and the background to it. Then there are the associated press reports locally if not nationally.

Most people had a funeral within a couple of weeks of their death and armed with the place of death, funeral notices were often published with great detail in local newspapers with lists of all the people present at the funeral and their relationships. It was not unusual for a potted biography to be included as well.

Then armed with dates of deaths it is much easier to find any wills that may exist.

Then finally being medically minded it is most interesting to note the cause of death. This is especially interesting if there are inherited disesases like haemophila, or even premature heart disease. Smallpox and cholera epidemics often killed off whole families within days of one another.

I will be happy to try and interpret the causes of death on certificates for those who cannot make sense of them.

Hatched, Matched and Dispached, all are important but to my mind the death gives me most insights into life at the time


dochines
 
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#3
Hi I was able to confirm the married name of my father in laws aunt when I saw a copy of her mothers death certificate on a relatives website.

The aunt had registered her mothers death. I had been looking for the aunt under the name CHALVES which is what I had been told. Then seeing the death certificate realised the aunts married surname was actually CHOWLES.

ElwynB.
 

duckweed

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#4
I too thought waste of time but have found after someone researching the same tree gave me copies how useful they can be as they often have a relative registering the death and their address and name are there. I also think it interesting to know cause of death because I want to know more than the name of the person. I've got hooked but have to ration how many I get.
 

Tom

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England
#5
I rarely use death certificates in my fmily history search, because they seem so hit-and-miss. Usually I don't care when people died, anyway.

At the moment I'm hunting around the 1890's-1910's, and my relatives might have died then, but might not. I have suitable names on ancestry, but I'm reluctant to stump up £7 a go for what may be very little information, even if I get the right person.

If someone dies while living with their parents, then that shows up on the certificate, but if they're single and have moved away, presumably there's no information regarding who the parents are. Is this correct? Are they any practical use at confirmig relationships?


"Usually I don't care when people died, anyway" - For me this is the opposite. My ancestors are more than just a name and date on a piece of paper. I like to follow them through and find out as much as I can about them.

Death certificates will help you confirm things or might lead to other avenues of research. Married daughters or other rellies registering the death all gives you something extra to look at.

Usually, for spinsters and children it will say "Daughter / Son of XXX XXX, a Farmer" etc.

Don't you want to know more about how they lived and how they died? If they died of cholera doesn't it give you some clue as to the conditions they lived in, or don't you want to know why someone from a middle class family died at the age of 21. Was it something sinister or something else?

Death certificates can also help you find where someone is buried - the date of death allows you to narrow down your search dates. You can then find their final resting place and maybe find a grave.

You can also then find obits in the newspapers and wills...and these can be invaluable naming nephews and nieces.
 
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Denbigh
#6
As an adopted person tracing my natural family, with very little info to go on, my first death certificate was of immense help to me, giving me my natural Mother's birth place, a sister's name and address (as informant),the deceased's spouse's name,address,occupation and to me this was "gold dust" so I think there are times when the death certificate comes into its own, and this was one of them, although I suppose I was lucky and landed on the right death certificate first time!:)
 

benny1982

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#7
Hi

Death certs are very important. The cause of death can explain genealogical theories, ie if the wife was ill for a long time and you suspect the hubby was playing away then this can sway you more towards that idea, and the informant can confirm relationships especially if they are a family relation you have never heard of or you want to link a suspected relation into your family, the age can point to a date of birth and if near a census, then it can help in pinpointing their last address. If the informant was a doctor, you can look him up to see what kind of GP he was to try and have a bit of what your ancestors life and illness may have been.

To me, death certs are just as important as birth and marriage certs.

Ben
 

pejay

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#8
I think all certificates are important, be they birth marriage or death, it is always good to have proof of an event, and not to rely on other peoples say so, we can also see how the person died, which can sometimes be a complete surprise/shock. We can also see where the person died, who registered the death and if ages are correct. It can also let us know if someone died in suspicious circumstances, whether there was an inquest, whether it was necessary to have a pm. I have a few death certificates that have been a complete surprise to me as to how they died. But at the end of the day we all have individual requirements and I can see that to some people a death cert is of less import than a birth or marriage one, each to his own!! :)
 

lizanne

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oldham
#9
I also think that death certs are just as important as birth and marriage certs.
For my direct line where possible I have copies of all birth, marriage and death certs.
Sadly the English death certs are not as informative as others but they can still give important information.
Anyone who has Scottish death certs will know what a great source of family information they can be, I just wish that the English ones were the same .
 

benny1982

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#10
Hi

Death certs are just as important as any other genealogical data. Make use of them as they can be a goldmine. They also help you search for wills, headstones and a date of burial although obviously they dont say where the deceased was buried.

Ben
 
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#11
I agree with all of the above. I have to admit that I haven't used death certificates as much as I could due to keeping expenses down, but I would certainly order them when I could afford it.

They can give very interesting information about how and where someone died and this not only can give clues to the individual's life, but also information about the social history of the time and how our ancestors fitted in to that history. I would have thought that anyone interested in tracing their ancestors would be fascinated by such information.

Ros
 

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