One of the challenges we all faced as a beginner was not knowing where to look for answers. Sometimes even what should be the easiest question to answer becomes a major brick wall for someone just starting out. The following question was asked at the Friday seminar and here are the steps I took to find the most likely answer:
QuestionWhen did John Wragg die?
- He was living in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England
- An elderly aunt said he died the day she was born which was August 25, 1901
- His wife's name is Annie Marsh
- The following children are known: Rosa (b. 1876), Lydia, Annie, Lucy, William, John, Dorothy Lydia (b. abt 1891)
Step 1 - Finding out John Wragg's birth yearWhich the last child born about 1891 I decided to start looking for the family in the 1891 census of England. Since I have a world subscription to Ancestry that was the easiest place to look for the family, especially since their search system allows me to include all his children as part of the search. Below is the Advanced search screen I used for the query.
As you can see, I only entered in the very basic details and restricted it to collections from England online.
When I focused the search results to the 1891 census of England there were only two results that percolated to the top of the list. Of those two, the first one had five of the seven children that we knew about.
Unless additional information appears the proves otherwise I'd say that the first census is the one we are interested in.
|1891 census of England, Yorkshire, Civil Parish of Sowerby, Sowerby Bridge, folio 101, page 2, Household of John William Wragg; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 23 Sep 2014); citing PRO RG 12/3600.|
Viewing the image of the census reveals some information we didn't know when we started.
- His full name appears to be John William Wragg
- He was 38 years old when the 1891 census was taken so he was born about about 1853
- He was born in Wadsley, Yorkshire
- He is recorded as being a labourer in 1891
Step 2 - Set the limits on when he diedCan we find him and the family in the 1901 census of England (according to the elderly aunt he should still be around)?
|1901 census of England, London, Civil Parish of Camberwell, folio 143, page 4, Household of John Wragg; digital images, Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 Sep 2014); citing PRO RG 13/506.|
This looks to be the household but now they are residing in Camberwell, London and not all the children are there but that is understandable since the eldest children are of marrying age and have probably moved away. But it does seem that John Wragg is alive in 1901, but is he still living in 1911?
A search for him in the 1911 census of England returns no results that appear to match but searching for Annie Wragg, born about 1853, in Swindon, Wiltshire (from the 1901 census) returns her listed as a widow living with a son Jack, age 24 years, in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
So it appears that John Wragg died between 31 March 1901 and 2 Apr 1911, the dates of the 1901 and 1911 census respectively.
Step 3 - Finding his death registrationUsing FreeMBD (just because I like to highlight other resources, especially if they are free, but you can use Ancestry too for this) I entered the details I believed I knew were correct into their search form:
Surprisingly there were only two possible entries found. A John William Wragg that was 52 years of age that was recorded in the registration district of Luton and a 2 year old in the registration district of Rotherham. I'm fairly certain we can rule out the 2 year old.
So what does the registration district of Luton include? Clicking on the Luton link a screen pops up stating that "The district Luton spans the boundaries of the counties of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire". He was in Bedfordshire in 1891 and his widow is back there for the 1911 census. This looks promising. Following the links on FreeBMD to find out more about the Luton registration district brings up a page on UKBMD that has Dunstable on the list of civil parishes for that district.
You could stop here and order his death registration from the General Register Office (never order it from Ancestry since they tack on a surcharge) to confirm that it is him. But there is one more place to check and that is the "England &Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966" collection on Ancestry.
Step 4 - Extra CreditsA search of the "England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966" collection results in finding the following entry:
Name: John William WraggLooking at the entry on the index page you see that he was of the "Crown" inn Houghton Regis near Dunstable. This actually matches additional information that was known about the family (but not divulged until I had found this record). Even better we now know that he died on 20 Aug 1904.
Probate Date: 4 Oct 1904
Death Date: 20 Aug 1904
Death Place: Bedfordshire, England
Registry: London, England
Everything appears to fit with what had been provided. Except that the elderly aunt was wrong as to the day and the year of his death.
Just remember to always take with a grain of salt anything that has been told to you. There is usually a kernel of truth contained within but stories need to be verified.