Friday, 4 April 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: D is for Death Certificate

Death certificates are often overlooked in favour of birth and marriage certificates.  After all, both these last two will give you clues to the next generation, whereas death certificates just record the end of a life, don't they?  But death certificates can also provide a wealth of information.

Later, more modern, death certificates provide the date of birth as well (although this needs to be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt, because the informant may have been too upset to remember properly).  You may find a cause of death which may give you further clues (was it phthisis? was he a miner?).  A date of
www.a-to-zchallenge.comdeath may lead you to a Will, which in turn may lead you to other ancestors in the bequests.  Or maybe an inquest, if the death was sudden or suspicious - and it may have been reported in the local newspaper.  A place of death may lead you to a census where the deceased/their family were living, to a census, or to a parish with its registers.

So, although a death certificate may seem like just a record of the end of your ancestor's life, it can in fact be a starting point for a lot more research.
*rubs hands with glee at the prospect*


  1. The death certificate is perhaps more important than the birth certificate, as we found out when we had to tie up things after my Mom passed away! Nothing moves without it!

    Nice theme!

    Vidya Sury
    Rocking the A to Z Challenge withTeam Damyanti
    Diary Writing

    1. It's probably more important than people realise! *grin* Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Oh I have been trying to find out about my great grandfather who was reportedly murdered in 1916 in a small town. I wonder how to access this info online and will one day but yes death certificates give alot of great info and a good start to finding out more. I find your blog really interesting

    1. Glad you find it interesting. Depends on where the death occurred - there must be some sort of archive of local newspapers, and if he was murdered there is very probably something in the paper about it.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Great information and a great theme! Will be back to catch up on more information about this topic. have a great weekend! :)

  4. Have found your blog through the A to Z challenge - really interesting. I've signed up as a follower as tracing my ancestors is something I would like to do so all knowledge and tips are useful. Cheers.

    1. Hope you find something useful. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. An interesting point of view, as I have tended to disparage English death certificates, as unlike may other countries (including Scotland) they do not indicate the names of parents. I know this is dependent on the informant knowing the details, so unlikely if your ancestor died in poorhouse for instance. I have been unable to trace my Lancashire grandmother's birth certificate and don't know the name of her mother - and although I have her death certificate, it really only confirms the year of her birth. Very frustrating!

  6. Sounds frustrating indeed! Contact me separately at ros.haywood @ with the details (like name, year, place etc), and I will see what I can do. You never know, a fresh pair of eyes might spot something.


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