Saturday, 30 March 2013

Finding a death certificate for your ancestor (post-1837)...

In 1837, the National Registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced to England and Wales so "technically" if your ancestor was born, married or died after 1837 there should be a record to find for your ancestors...although some ancestors will always remain elusive.

There are numerous ways of finding records for your ancestors but I will focus this blog entry on the resources I regularly use for finding a death certificate.

Finding a death certificate:
I have ordered only a few death certificates for my ancestors, but I do intend to order a few more soon. They can tell you a lot about how your ancestor died and who was present at the time of the death or who was the next of kin.

We will search for the death certificate of Frederick Sutcliffe, my great, great grandfather. (We searched for his birth certificate a weeks ago...see previous blog post).

Using the censuses we can find the last census that our ancestor is mentioned in, which can help us figure out a little more accurately which decade your ancestor may have died in, unless the last census they are mentioned in is 1911 and then it could be any time after 1911.

Frederick Sutcliffe is listed in the 1911 census so could have died any time after 1911. We know he lived in Leeds at the time of the 1911 census and from talking to relatives we established that Frederick probably passed away in the 1930s and he was born in 1860.

1911 census return for Frederick Sutcliffe and his family

NB Since 1866 the age of the deceased individual is listed in the registration transcriptions, so it makes it much easier to find your ancestors death.

Using FreeBMD site you input the information you have and know and do a search:

Search details for Frederick Sutcliffe's death registration

The results listed a number of men who died in the Leeds area in this time period in the Leeds area:
  • Frederick SUTCLIFFE, Sept 1912, Aged 66, Volume 9b, Page 446
  • Frederick K SUTCLIFFE, June 1923, Aged 75, Volume 9b, Page 424
  • Frederick W SUTCLIFFE, Dec 1932, Aged 73, Volume 9b, Page 377
  • Frederick SUTCLIFFE, Mar 1938, Aged 78, Volume 9b, Page 389
  • Fred SUTCLIFFE, Mar 1939, Aged 60, Volume 9b, Page 653
  • Frederick SUTCLIFFE, Dec 1945, Aged 69, Volume 9b, Page 457

Matching the ages of these gentlemen with the age of our ancestor can only make one of the above our ancestor - the entry registered in March 1938.

Now we have this information we can order a copy of the death certificate at the General Register Office (GRO) website. They require you to register on their site and remember to have your credit card to hand to pay for the certificate, the cost is £9.25 for a standard delivery of a few weeks or £23.40 for a priority delivery of a few days. You will need the following details to order the certificate:
  • Year of death 1938
  • Surname of deceased  SUTCLIFFE
  • Forename(s) of deceased Frederick
  • Age of deceased 78
  • Registration district Leeds North
  • Quarter of registration March
  • Volume of registration 9b
  • Page number of registration 389

A few weeks later the copy of your ancestors death certificate will arrive through the post...

Death certificate for Frederick Sutcliffe

This certificate is particularly useful as my great grandfather was the next of kin and the informant to the authorities about the death. Interestingly, Frederick remained at the same address from 1911 to the time of this death twenty seven years later.

Problems you may have in finding your ancestors:
  • name misspelt or variations of spellings
  • transcription errors
  • registered under a name which the person was not called regularly....nicknames or middle names were used as a first name
  • mixed up first names and surnames or middle and first names/surnames
  • the birth, marriage or death was not registered
  • age of death is inaccurate

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

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