Elizabeth Tregonning's mother, Elizabeth Martin, died in Avoca, Victoria, Australia, 1860 after a difficult labour. The younger Elizabeth was just two years old. I obtained a copy of Elizabeth Martin's death certificate way back in 2000. Australian death certificates can provide a lot of information, including details of marriages and any children.
While most of the copy was clear, the details of Elizabeth Martin's children were near enough to unreadable. The left hand column below gives the detail of her marriage - in Gwennap, Cornwall, at age 20 years, to William Tregonning. The right column gives the details of her children.
I did have some other information to go on. According to the records I had (mostly birth certificates):
- the eldest son, William Henry, was born around 1849. He was still alive in 1860 as he was the informant for his father's death in 1887.
- when twins, Rosina Jane and John, were born in 1855 the family had 3 living children. Rosina died in 1863, so was still alive in 1860.
- when Elizabeth was born in 1858 the family had one boy and two girls living, one boy and one girl dead. Obviously Elizabeth survived beyond 1860, or I wouldn't be here today.
I could make out the known names on the certificate but the other lines had me puzzled. It looked to me like it could list as many seven children. The words "living" and "dead" were not distinct. I couldn't find any other birth records for the family in the indexes.
I decided to do something that I thought was a bit cheeky of me 10 years after obtaining Elizabeth Martin's death certificate... ask for a clearer copy. A little under two weeks ago I sent off an email explaining my situation. To my surprise and delight I received a message back saying that they had made a new copy and would post it to me. I received it in the mail today!
Here are the same columns from the new copy:
Much better! Now I can read:
William Henry, eleven & a half, living
A female, stillborn
Rosa Jane, living
John, dead [Rosa and John marked as twins]
Elizabeth, living, two years
All my information fits in nicely. One boy and two girls living, one boy and one girl dead. Plus the child resulting from the difficult labour, which I assume didn't survive.
I'm not sure why I didn't do this when I first got the certificate. I think over time I've become less timid about asking for things! I'm so glad I did ask. The worst they could do is say no.
Now, on to the next puzzle...