Eight tips for find­ing miss­ing deaths

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - DEATH RECORDS -

There are in­ac­cu­ra­cies in the GRO in­dex, which could mean you fail to find what you are look­ing for. Use www.ukbmd.org.uk to see if the rel­e­vant reg­is­tra­tion district has put a copy of its own, more ac­cu­rate, in­dex on­line. If not, con­tact the reg­is­ter of­fice to ask if they will con­duct a search for you. Cer­tifi­cates or­dered from reg­is­ter of­fices cost £10. For miss­ing deaths and buri­als from 1858, search the Prin­ci­pal Pro­bate Registry in­dex. If your an­ces­tor fea­tures, th­ese in­dexes will give their date of death and help you lo­cate the cor­rect en­try in the GRO in­dex. Your an­ces­tors may not have been mem­bers of the Church of Eng­land, so check non­con­formist burial reg­is­ters avail­able on the­ge­neal­o­gist.co.uk, find­my­past. co.uk or bm­dreg­is­ters.co.uk. The age at death may be wrong or your an­ces­tor may be recorded un­der their middle name, while they may have died far from home or even abroad. Check pas­sen­ger lists and on­line census re­turns for Amer­ica and Canada avail­able on Ances­try and Find­my­past. The spell­ing of sur­names did not be­come stan­dard­ised un­til the late 19th/early 20th cen­tury. Keep an open mind as to how the name could have been spelled or mis-copied. Mis-tran­scrip­tions are com­mon in in­dexes sim­ply be­cause tran­scribers mis-read the hand­writ­ing. If the ini­tial let­ter of the sur­name has been mis-tran­scribed, search with­out the sur­name but adding in other de­tails, such as likely county of death and a rough date. Oc­ca­sion­ally peo­ple be­came known by Chris­tian names un­re­lated to those given to them at birth and they may have been reg­is­tered un­der that name at death. Sim­i­larly, some­one known all his life as ‘Bert’ may have in­ad­ver­tently been recorded as Al­bert in­stead of Her­bert, Hu­bert or Ber­tram at death. Your as­sump­tions about where and when your an­ces­tor died may be wrong. Your an­ces­tor may ap­pear to be dead be­cause they do not ap­pear on a census re­turn, but check the fol­low­ing census in case they were sim­ply not recorded in the pre­vi­ous one. Sim­i­larly, they may not have died in the area that you ex­pect.

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