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Death at sea - are death records available?

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Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby Karen196 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:50 pm

I've found the transcript of a death of sea (with the help from forum members), I now have the volume and page number. Is visiting Kew the only way to see the details?

This may be a stupid question, but does death at sea always mean buried at sea?


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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:03 pm

If you have a volume and page, then it sounds like you have the General Register Office details - in which case, Kew is usually no use (it depends) but you need to order through the GRO - see https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/most_customers_want_to_know.asp#Overseas1 and subsequent questions further down that page.

Death at sea simply means death at sea. It doesn't always mean burial at sea - I suspect that for a long time, it did (special cases such as Lord Nelson aside). But given the ability to refrigerate cargo, I wonder if cruise ships haven't acquired morgues?
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby MaureenE » Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:57 pm

I seem to recall some discussion on the Rootsweb India List, the archives of which are unfortunately not available at this point. Occasionally on trips to and from India the body was buried at the next port of call. In one case, if I am recalling correctly, a married woman died on the trip to England, and her husband had her body placed in a cask of alcohol which was taken to the next port St Helena, where she was buried. An account of this appeared in a book which is available online, so I will see if I can locate this.[See edit below]

I have an even vaguer memory of a person who died at sea while travelling with a family member, perhaps two brothers. The body was placed in a small boat, which I think was towed behind the main boat to the next port. I think the surviving brother was an officer on the ship.

Both these examples would have been in the 1800s, and either expensive, or only available in special circumstances.

Cheers
Maureen

Edit:
Under a heading Deaths, May 1805, pages 183-184 Asiatic Annual Register for 1806.

"At sea. On board the David Scott, East Indiaman, off the Cape of Good Hope, Mrs Clerk, wife to Lieut. Col. Clark, of the Madras establishment. Her amiable and condescending manners were such as must insure lasting respect, and her death will be long regretted, particularly by her numerous and respectable friends at that presidency. She has left a respectable husband to bewail the loss of a most affectionate wife, and six infant children of a most attentive and fond parent. Her remains were preserved in spirits until the 31st December following, when they were interred at St. Helena, with all suitable attention, and followed to the grave by all the passengers of the fleet, and the greater part of the inhabitants of that island". [My emphasis of the words in bold]
https://books.google.com.au/books?id=qI ... =RA1-PA183

findmypast has a burial record for “Mrs Lucy Clark, Passenger, Ship Dav. Scott” for burial on 1 January 1805, so the date of death of May 1805, under which the wording appears, is not correct.
Last edited by MaureenE on Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby JMcK » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:13 pm

In 1965 I was a child on board ship and someone died. They were put on a plank with a flag over them and tipped over the side. I believe they weighted the body to be sure it went straight down.

And just 10 years ago I went on a trip on a small 50 berth vessel to the Sub Antarctic islands. I had to sign something to say there would be no body recovery.

But yes, those big cruise ships do have a morgue.
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby Karen196 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:50 am

Thank you, very interesting. I've tried the GRO using the volume and page and it didn't turn up anything, that is why I'm thinking the volume may relate to other documents, mariner related as he was a seaman. Died in 1906.


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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:10 am

Hm. Depends where you're looking. You should give us the details of where and what you found, then maybe someone can find it themselves and explain how to get the details. But there are several different lots of GRO data - my head spins contemplating them - so we need details.

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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby ianbee » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:40 am

Karen196 wrote:I've found the transcript of a death of sea (with the help from forum members)

Maybe
post59192.html#p59192
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby ianbee » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:01 am

Deaths at Sea seems to have disappeared from findmypast.
Along with Armed Forces Births/Marriages/Deaths.
All now lumped together under "British Armed Forces and Overseas Deaths and Burials"
Very clever.

As Beacon said, entry for Mr. Rapol says found dead supposed heart failure, 18 Jan 1906
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby peter kent » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:01 pm

I'm not clear what you're trying to achieve. Findmypast has two relevant documents.

One is an extract from the GRO Marine Deaths index. You can use the information in the index to order a certificate from GRO. Remember to use the Overseas Events option.

The other document is an extract from National Archives series BT334 ("Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Registers and Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea ").

I don't really see the point in ordering a death certificate because it is unlikely to contain any more information than is shown in BT334.
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Re: Death at sea - are death records available?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:25 pm

I'd agree with Peter. (I would point out that I really, really, get a head-ache trying to understand the various overseas certificates - they seem complicated because they are.)

Anyway, the BT334 reference on FindMyPast for Luciano Rapol mentions:
Archive reference BT 334
Box 0038
Page 15


The image that you then see on FMP shows page 15 and I took a guess that the TNA reference was BT 334/38. Indeed, if you go to that reference in the TNA Discovery Catalogue, it says
Reference: BT 334/38
Description: Register of deceased seamen
Date: 1906
...
This is available to download from Findmypast

Or put another way, what you see on FMP is the full information and all the information that TNA has on him. It's not an index, it's the full details. If you look at the FMP page and compare it to a normal UK death certificate, it becomes clear that there isn't really anything else to say about the death. Obviously the original form reporting the death would have been hand written but that will have been scrapped long since.

What I don't know is what data the GRO death certificate holds. However, my belief would be that the GRO would want no more than a normal English & Welsh GRO DC and that almost certainly the GRO and the BT334 stuff came from the same original form. In that case, the GRO DC will contain no more than the BT334 form - again, there isn't really anything else to say about the death.

So to summarise;
- TNA at Kew hold no more than what you see on FMP on the BT334 page;
- the GRO death certificate will, 99% certainly, hold no more than the BT334 page - and possibly even less;

So save your money - you've got all there is to get in relation to his death details.
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