So when did he die, then?

motor and butty trent and mersey
Motor and butty boat on the Trent and Mersey Canal near Fradley Junction

This is the sort of question that crops up in discussion about family history.  Usually, the question goes unanswered until a little research has been done.  Most of my recent posts have focused on my Evans ancestors, boatmen of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.  All too frequently, the trouble is that when searching the General Register Office (GRO) index of deaths a large number of possibles appear.  So how can the “right” ancestor be found?

The starting point is:  “what do we know already?”  Well, William Evans was born on 15 July 1797 at Kinnerton, Cheshire.  He was recorded in the 1871 Census at Giggetty, Wombourne, Staffordshire, where he was an “Ag Lab” or agricultural labourer.  His age is recorded as 70, but birth at Dodleston, Cheshire, which is where he was baptised.  There is no doubt (taking into account earlier census records) that this is the same man.  I have not been able to find him in the 1881 Census.  I presume, therefore, that he died in the 1870s.

The GRO index threw up two strong possibilities:-

Evans, William, 1873, Apr-Jun, Wolverhampton, 6b, 301; and

Evans, William, 1875, Jul-Sep, Willenhall, 6b 317.

I decided to go for the first and ordered a PDF version online, cost £6.  (A full printed copy in the post costs £9).

What I had hoped was that the entry of death would reveal some confirmation, such as place of death, perhaps Giggetty, and/or the informant being a family member, or a neighbour.

In this first instance neither was forthcoming, although age 76 fitted.  Death occurred on 6 May 1873 “At the Hospital”, and the informant was the Coroner, following an inquest.  Further, the cause was “Injuries caused by a lift falling on him at an ironwork, accidental, 2 days”.  Hence the inquest.  I did check the newspaper archive in Findmypast, but was unable to find a report.  In any case, it was clear that this was the wrong William.

evans william eod 1875

Undaunted, I ordered the second entry.  When the notification appeared in my inbox, I quickly downloaded the PDF file and it gave the clinching information that I had hoped for.  Although William died at Wednesfield (registered at Willenhall), the other details fitted.  Date of death was 12 July 1875, at Lichfield Road, Wednesfield, Staffordshire, aged 78, Farm Labourer, cause: “Old Age”, informant:  “Jane Evans, Daughter, present at the death, [of] Lichfield Road, Wednesfield”.  In the 1871 Census Jane Evans is recorded at Baker Street, Wednesfield.  This entry of death is sure to be right.

So, another knot enters the rich carpet of Andrew’s Kindred.

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