Death Certificates 1837-1967

Across the top will be the Registration District, sub-district and city or county plus the year of registration.

Number

On the left hand side, before column 1 is a number between 1-500.  That is the number of the entry in the original register book.

Column 1 - when and where died
Date of death in day/month/year format   Early registers usually only show a village name but towards the end of the nineteenth century the street address was usually shown.  USD, RSD, UD or RD after the address just means Urban or Rural (Sanitary) District. The place of death is not necessarily the usual residence of the deceased.

Column 2 - Name and surname
The name of the person who had died, as given by the informant.  Remember that death registrations are always made by someone other than the deceased and the information supplied can only ever be as accurate as the informant is aware.

Column 3 - Sex
Male or female

Column 4 - Age
Depending on who the informant was this is often an estimated age.

Column 5 - Occupation
Whatever the informant said it was.  A married woman/widow will be shown as wife/widow of (husband’s name) and his occupation.  A child will be son/daughter of (father’s name) and his occupation.  An illegitimate child will be son/daughter of (mother’s name) and usually her occupation.

Column 6 - Cause of death
In the early years of civil registration a doctor wasn’t required to attend to a death and the cause of death will be, in lay terms, whatever the informant said it was.  If the cause of death is followed by the word ‘certified’ it means that a doctor had seen the body and the cause of death was whatever the doctor said it was.  After 1875 the name and qualification  of the doctor certifying the death is also shown.  If there was a post-mortem examination of the body the cause of death will be certified by the coroner.  If there were suspicious or un-natural circumstances and an inquest held that will be shown and the verdict included.

Column 7 - signature and description of the informant
Signature or mark of the person registering the death and his/her address, usually only the name of a village on early certificates. The preferred informant was someone present at the death, often a close family member although the relationship to the deceased is not shown before 1875.  Someone in attendance means a person who had been nursing or caring for the deceased during the last illness but not actually present at the time of death.  again often a family member but sometimes a neighbour or professional carer.  An occupier meant matron of a nursing home or Master of the Workhouse.  A person causing the body to be buried is the person giving instructions to the undertaker in the absence of any family member, usually a hospital almoner or similar.  If there was an inquest the coroner will be the informant.

Column 8 - When registered
The date of the registration.  Usually just a couple of days after the death although if there was an inquest it may be quite a long time after.

Column 9 - Signature of Registrar
Self explanatory.

If a mistake was made in the register and noticed at the time of registration the incorrect word(s) will be crossed through, the correct word(s) inserted and a number entered in the margin.  If an error was discovered afterwards there will be a correction note in the margin signed by the Registrar and countersigned by the informant or other appropriate person.