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Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

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Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby JaneyH » Sun Jul 24, 2016 4:05 pm

Does anyone know what the abbreviations 'HD', 'D' and 'N' might be short for when shown in the same box as the deceased person's name? The burial register dates from April 1828 and is for St John the Evangelist, Westminster (bizarrely, this is just behind my office!) Here's an example:

Elizabeth Bowdler burial 1828.JPG
Elizabeth Bowdler burial 1828.JPG (55.12 KiB) Viewed 3399 times


The only entries without one of these three permutations are stillborns. It doesn't appear to relate to the workhouse particularly - there are two where 'workhouse' is given as place of abode which have 'N', but there are others with 'N' that are private addresses.
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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:40 pm

You've got me on that one.... I suspect it's something known only to whoever wrote up the register. It might be the section of the graveyard where they were buried? Do you have any idea whether there were any separate cemeteries in the area? I suppose it could even be the undertakers, though why one would want to record them, I've no idea....
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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby KayFarndon » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:15 pm

This is quite intriguing and I have been having a look at my files to see if I have anything similar, but not found a link yet. Is the church still in use? If so, then why not go along and see if a member of the clergy can help, that's if you have not already done that, as they are usually very knowledgeable about the parish and its records.

Also, if you found the parish records in a register office you could ask there too.
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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby JaneyH » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:33 pm

Thanks, Kay - food for thought. Bizarrely enough, the church is just behind where I work! Perhaps I should pop out and see if I can chat with the current incumbent one lunchtime.

Since posting this I've discovered that the person named in the death index (Elizabeth Bowdler) is not, in fact, my ancestor. A couple of online trees suggested she was, and noted that she had committed suicide. I've now tracked down a newspaper report of the suicide case and the father named means that this must be the 'wrong' Elizabeth.

Nevertheless I'm still curious about those abbreviations!


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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby brunes08 » Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:29 pm

There are a lot of sites that identify parish register abbreviations. I've looked at several but cannot come up with anything for H.D. The only thing that I found for N, in one of my reference books, was 'nothus' which is the Latin for bastard, ie illegitimate. If the children were in the workhouse, this may be a possibility - as indeed those in other addresses. I have come across b.b on a baptism record which means base born or illegitimate. As usual, the problem is that there was no conformity in the use of terms. It was often just the whim of the incumbent or the tradition at a particular church.
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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:42 pm

Weren't there too many N to be illegitimate? Gut feeling comment, but as implied above, it could be North side of the churchyard, Nigel the undertaker, Nowhere-in-particular cemetery.... Rather sad but I suggest we're clutching at straws unless we can come up with a set of meanings for all 3 sets of acronyms. Bother. I really don't want to sound pessimistic but my feeling is that any meaning will be very local....

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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby ianbee » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:42 pm

An explanation from Westminster Archives of the abbreviations in the registers of the very closely linked parish of St Margaret is here
http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/t ... 1363935176

And there is an old query on this same topic re St John the Evangelist here
http://www.genealogy-specialists.com/th ... ease.5263/

A link to that 1840 book with the burial fees
https://goo.gl/A2pXDN

HD = Half dues for the poor. Is that the answer?
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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:14 pm

Well done there...

I think that you have it - Duty, Half-Duty and Nil.

Although I'm still mildly puzzled why the word Duty is used? Is it just synonymous with Fee? None of the other, adjacent parishes seem to use the word Duty in that book. (If it says elsewhere in those links why that word is used, I wouldn't be surprised).

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Re: Abbreviations used in parish burial registers, 1820s

Postby JaneyH » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:43 am

Looks like you've cracked it, Ian! Many thanks - I've learned something new.

Again, purely for curiosity (not my 'real' research) I spent a bit of time yesterday looking at old maps of that part of Westminster in a bid to locate the grave-yard of St. John's. I had an uneasy feeling that my office might be built on top of it, but this now seems unlikely - phew! There's a "graveyard, disused" a little to the south which I imagine to be the most likely candidate.


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