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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: Burial Rights

I am lucky enough to have access to a real family history treasure chest. Over coming weeks I plan on sharing its contents with you as I rediscover what's inside.
It pays to re-examine documents. As I make my way through the treasure chest, I am trying to give each document the time and thought it deserves. This week re-examination of a right of burial has lead to the discovery of new (to me) family members, new information on known family members, and leads to further information.

Here it is. A certificate of right of burial purchased for one pound, dated 17 November 1881 (on reverse of paper shown). A piece of paper that was handled by my great-great grandfather, John Lee (1822-1905), almost 130 years ago!

Melbourne General Cemetery, "Certificate of Right of Burial in the Melbourne General Cemetery",
No. 62, made out to John Lee.

My first reaction was to check my database to see where John Lee had been buried. He was buried in Oakleigh Cemetery, not in Melbourne General Cemetery. I then checked my database for any burials in Melbourne General Cemetery. I was surprised to see that only one family member is known to be buried there, Joseph Lee, one of John Lee's sons. However he passed away in 1905 so was not necessarily buried (or the only one buried) in the plot.

Melbourne General Cemetery doesn't have a searchable database online, so I sent a request to the cemetery for information. I was very pleased when I got a reply just a few days later.

Buried in the plot were:
  • Lee, George K aged 21 buried 18.11.1881
  • Bowell, Robert aged 82 buried 17.11.1899
  • Bowell, Elizabeth aged 84 buried 05.02.1901
George King Lee (1861-1881) was another of John Lee's sons, so that made sense. But who were Robert and Elizabeth Bowell?

Armed with names, ages and death years, I searched for and found Robert and Elizabeth's death index entries. Elizabeth Bowell was John Lee's elder sister, previously unknown to me. I then looked for a marriage record for Elizabeth Lee and Robert Bowell and was lucky enough to find one, complete with an image of the marriage register, on Ancestry. They had been married in London in 1848.

Aside from the date and place of the marriage, the marriage register entry gave me two useful pieces of information. Firstly, that her father Joseph Lee was dead and secondly that Elizabeth hadn't been born in London, as had the rest of her family (or at least those I knew) but was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

I wondered if I might find them in any of the UK censuses.

Success! I found Elizabeth Bowell and it was better than I had hoped as her mother Jane was also in the house. This gave me a birth place and birth year for her mother, which I didn't previously have, and told me that she was still alive in 1851.

After some unsuccessful attempts, I decided to make searching for any Bowell children a bit easier, and I bought Elizabeth's Bowell's death certificate. Australian death certificates can be very informative. This one was no exception - but it showed that Elizabeth and Robert were childless. They arrived in Australia in around 1861.

In summary...
So, this Right of Burial document looked pretty dull when I was a newbie, but now it has lead me to a new sister for my g-g Grandfather, her husband, a new location where the family lived, has narrowed down some dates and filled in some of the blanks on my g-g-g grandparents and given me a lot of leads for the family generally that I have still to follow up on. 

1 comment:

  1. Great example of how it pays to revisit your research and to carefully read every document and make sure that you do discover every clue. I am finding the same type of success with my own research by revisiting documents and searching resources that weren't available years ago. Thanks.