Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Geoffs Genealogy Update 31 March 2010

Another month gone, and still no updates to the Geoffs Genealogy website.



I'm still trying to get as much data entered on the tree as I can, so that when it eventually does appear on the web it will be as up to date as possible. I've been using online resources to find births, marriages and deaths in the civil registration indexes. I'm taking a bit of a chance in this, as without buying the relevant certificate there is always a possibility of adopting the wrong index entry. However, the cost of buying certificates en bloc is prohibitive, and my experience tells me that the number of errors I have made using this method is very small. Where I am in doubt about an entry I either omit it entirely or add a query to the record. Hopefully I am not undermining the validity of our research.


Mention of the cost of BMD certificates in England & Wales leads me to mention the quite extortionate increase that the UK government has applied with effect from 6 April. From this date the cost of a certificate will rise from £7.00 to £9.25. Really, I realise that our nation is skint, but this is ridiculous! Apparently the official line is that this quite exhorbitant increase is justified by the need to make sure that the fee charged reflects the cost of producing the certificates. I ask you, does it really cost £9.00 to copy a certificate and post it out? If so, I would suggest that some changes are needed in the way the General Register Office (England & Wales) operates.


I explained, in my last blog entry, how the 1911 census record for my great grandparents told me that John (1855-1924) & Elizabeth (1853-1931) Culshaw had had three children who had died before April 1911. Prior to this I had no knowledge at all about these extra Culshaws, each of whom had been born and died between censuses. I explained that I had identified the three missing children from civil registration indexes and also from the records of baptisms at St Mary RC, Leyland. The next logical step was to send off for some of the relevant certificates. I wanted to prove that I had records for the right people, and also to find out what caused the deaths of these poor souls.


The forthcoming price increase led me to order four certificates while the price is still £7.00, and these documents enabled me to piece together these details re my Culshaw forebears.



I now know that Abel Culshaw died at Preston, Lancashire on 11 August 1876, aged 6 months, the cause of his death being "Marasmus Pneumonia". According to the web page "Causes of Death in the Late 19th Century mentioned in the Register of Deaths, 1893-1907 " Marasmus was a "Progressive emaciation and general wasting due to enfeebled constitution rather than any specific or ascertainable cause." Abel was John Culshaw & Elizabeth nee Bennett / Eastham's first born child, my grandfather was their second born.


James Culshaw was born in August 1879, and was no doubt named after his grandfather - James Culshaw (1834-1923). He died only nine weeks after his birth at the family home in Farington, just south of Preston. The cause of his death was "Convulsions 24 hours". I don't know what may have brought about the convulsions. The above website suggests that tetanus could have been a cause, but doesn't really offer an explanation. Possibly James was suffering from a fever.


Amy Ann Culshaw died at Farington on 5 October 1884, aged one year. She had been suffering from meningitis.


All these deaths were registered by John Culshaw, father to the children, within two days of the events. John had been present at all the deaths.


Finds such as these remind us just what a dangerous place the world was in the nineteenth century, and bring home to us the very high rates of infant mortality that existed in those days. If you are interested in this aspect of our research you may like to look at my work on late nineteenth century infant mortality, which is available on my website. John Culshaw was an ordinary working man. As far as I know he was not particularly poor, by the standards of the time. I doubt whether the living conditions of his family were particularly poor. Yet three of his seven children died so young.


I wonder about the attitude of people towards infant mortality in those days. Nowadays in England a child's death is quite rare, and rightly viewed as a disaster, but when infant mortality was so much of an everyday experience social attitudes towards it must have been different.


In addition to all the information we have found recently about the Culshaws, we have in the past few weeks filled in much information about the Eastham family. If you are interested in all this you will be able to see these records on the tree when we eventually get around to uploading it to the website.



These new breakthroughs in our Culshaw research came about thanks to our recently established contact with our long lost Lancashire cousins. A couple of weeks ago we went to Preston and met these cousins. It was a real pleasure. They made us very welcome, and we had a fine old time, talking about various family topics. My Dad met his first cousin, with whom he used to play as a lad, for the first time for about 65 years! You can imagine that it was quite an occasion.


It's really great when our hobby leads us to such a joyous conclusion. Truly the icing on the genealogical cake.

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