Friday, March 30, 2018

Eliza (Hartley) Armitage - Death Certificate

When I first began research on my mother's paternal side of the family I was told by another researcher that Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen's mother was Ann Bell.  Comparing Elizabeth's and her siblings' death certificates, it did not make sense to me that the informant for Elizabeth's certificate, one of her daughters, knew only Elizabeth's father's name while several of Elizabeth's siblings' children knew both parents' names.

I pondered that while I searched for Elizabeth and her parents in census records.  Elizabeth was born in 1852 and her older sister, Ann, in 1850.  Their younger siblings were born between 1859 and 1872.  I began to make sense of the situation when I found the 1851 census with Ann Armitage with her parents, Abel and Eliza.  When I searched the 1861 census I found Elizabeth and Ann with parents Abel and Ann, and another son, Peter.  I finally understood that something had happened to Eliza before about 1859 -- possibly a death or a divorce.

Further searches revealed that Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley were married in 1847.  Looking at the death indexes for England I found more than a few Eliza Armitages.  A few months ago, when the U.K. GRO began offering PDF versions of death certificates at a reduced cost, I made an educated guess about which Eliza was probably mine based on where Elizabeth and Ann lived in the 1861 census.

When the certificate arrived there was no doubt it was the Eliza of my search.  It's so satisfying to learn what happened to an ancestor and put her to rest, so to speak.

This certificate is from U.K. GRO Year 1856, Volume 10A, Page 54.

Death Certificate of Eliza Hartley Armitage, U.K. GRO Year 1856, VOl 10A, P. 54

This is the transcription.
Superintendent Registrar's District  Stockton
Registrar's District  Sedgefield
1856.  Deaths in the District of Sedgefield in the County of Durham
No. 167
When Died.  Twenty-second October 1856  Trimdon Colliery  Trimdon
Name and Surname.  Eliza Armitage
Sex.  Female
Age.  44 Years
Rank or Profession.  Wife of Able [sic] Armitage Coalminer
Cause of Death.  Consumption  Not Certified
Registrar's Description and Residence of Informant.  X the mark of Jane Jackson Present at the death Trimdon Colliery Trimdon
When Registered.  Thirtieth October 1856
Signature of Registrar.  William Sowes Registrar

It's easy to understand why Elizabeth didn't know her mother's name to tell her children:  she was only four when her mother died.  In fact, she probably had few, if any, memories of her mother.  It's also likely that after Abel remarried there was little talk of his first wife, the mother of his two oldest daughters.

I'm grateful to learn the sad end of Eliza Hartley Armitage's life.


Copyright ©2018, Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Well done, Nancy! I wonder what it was about thosse times that people just didn’t talk about “things.” My grandmother didn’t know if she was born on the 9th or 19th. How is that possible? How could her mother not remember? I am glad you were able to end your confusion.

  2. Thank you, Wendy. I don't know why it took so long to find her death record -- so unclear for years and then suddenly it made sense which one it probably was. I, too, wonder why some topics seemed to be off limits. I wrote a post a few years ago about coming from a long line of non-story tellers because no one in my family told family stories, even when I was a child. Maybe it was just more common in years past to keep silent. Another thought I had which may not have been so with your ancestors but was probably so with mine: if they were illiterate perhaps remembering numbers, dates, etc. was just hard. I don't know....


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