Double Death Developments

In the post, Double Death, I said:

The death certificate records Grace’s cause of death as  ‘Valvular disease of the Heart – Bronchitis’.  Obviously, the son’s certificate will need to be viewed next if I’m to solve this mystery.

The son, Edward STYLING’s death certificate has now been viewed but has only heightened the mystery – he ALSO died of ‘Valvular disease of the Heart – Bronchitis’!

Edward STILING’s death certificate 1873
Grace STILING’s death certificate 1873

What can I see?

  • Same date, place and cause of death.
  • Edward’s death was recorded in the register (#85) before Grace (#86).
  • The same informant (Ann Maunder) and registrar.

I find this incredibly strange…

A mother and son, 24 years apart in age, living in the same house (Ashley Cottage), die of the same disease on the same day!

And no one seemed to find this odd!

It’s possible there was some kind of epidemic in the area at the time but in what circumstances might death like this happen?

I guess it could be a coincidence but it’s all a bit suspicious to me…

Ashley Cottage (2009) via Google Street View

Wonder No Maunder

Turns out the Ann Maunder who was present at Grace STILING’s death is not the family member I suspected and apparently no relation at all  (Read related post HERE).

c1903 map showing the proximity of Broad Lane to Ashley Cottage, Tiverton

For some reason, bad transcription I guess, I was unable to find Ann on the 1871 census through name & town alone.  Using the find my past address search function, I was able to finally locate Broad Lane on 1871 census and there she was – married to a James Maunder and nearly 50 years younger than the Ann Maunder I expected/hoped her to be.

Ann Maunder of Broad Lane on 1871 census

Ann’s maiden name was Bowden and she married James in 1851.

Ann Maunder/Bowden’s marriage record, 1851

At least I’ve cleared that up for myself.  In other news, I’ve ordered Grace’s son, Edward STILING’s death certificate. Will Ann Maunder appear as witness there too?

 

Double Death

Recently, I saw in the indexes that Grace STILING and her bachelor son Edward died in the same year and the same month. It turns out that they’d actually even died on the same day!  A newspaper article stated that the duo died on the same day at ‘Ashleigh, Tiverton’ – ages given but no reason.

Styling/Stiling death notices in Western Times, 25 February 1873, p5

I knew from the 1871 census that mother and son were living together in Ashley Cottage so I was expecting to find mention of a local tragedy or even an inquest in the newspapers but… nope.  I ordered Grace’s death certificate (since she was my direct ancestor) and presumed I’d find some clue there but again… nope.

1873 death certificate of Grace Styling/Stiling

The death certificate records Grace’s cause of death as  ‘Valvular disease of the Heart – Bronchitis’.  Obviously, the son’s certificate will need to be viewed next if I’m to solve this mystery.
Note: The newspaper incorrectly stated that Grace was the widow of ‘E. Styling’ – it was in fact, J. Stiling (who died 10 years previously in 1862).

However, this death certificate did throw up a new puzzle for me to solve…

The death was registered 2 days after by Ann Maunder of Broad Lane, Tiverton who was present at the death.

Is this the same Ann Maunder who married wrestling star, William WREFORD after his first wife, Drusilla died? The relationship between the two women on ancestry is ‘wife of father-in-law of daughter’. Confused yet? I had to make up a mini tree to try and get it straight.

So Ann’s stepson was married to Grace’s daughter and therefore very likely they knew each other.  Perhaps these two women had a kind of friendship.  But why use her maiden name MAUNDER and not her married name of WREFORD?

Next Steps:

Killing Off William Wreford

On the hunt for William’s death certificate, I realised I hadn’t attached an 1861 census record to him yet.
The Wreford Pedigree recorded his death date as November 1866 and the last census I had him on was the 1851.  The only appropriate death record I could find was registered in East London but didn’t know whether it was the right guy.  So I searched for William WREFORD and found one in the house of his sister, Sarah BROOKS:

Knowle Downe Bishops Nympton 1861 BROOKS & WREFORD
1861 Census – William WREFORD staying with his sister, Sarah BROOKS

I checked that William did indeed have a sister called Sarah (baptised 18 Apr 1797 in Morchard Bishop, Devon to the same parents, John & Mary) and then checked for a marriage between a Sarah WREFORD and a man named BROOKS.

Sarah Wreford
Sarah WREFORD baptism
sarahwrefordcharlesbrooksmarriage Chulmleigh 1818
Marriage of Charles BROOKS & Sarah WREFORD (Chulmleigh, Devon)

It all checked out and I am confident that the William living with his sister in 1861 IS my William WREFORD (b. 1793).  I ordered the death certificate and hoped there was some clue as to how he ended up in London.  Unfortunately there was not.  Since then, I learned that both his eldest son William (1817) and his daughter, Elizabeth lived in London at the time and am still tracing his other children.  More information can be found in my ‘Wrestling with Death‘ post.

Next steps:
  • Trace all of William’s children
  • Find out who Thomas Cusiok/Cuscok

Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

alexgibsonreidjanet
Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that… There could be so many other explanations – too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source – 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID – 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 – born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 – living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)

Sometime after 1841 – moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 – became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 – adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches – 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)