For general information see
Introduction to Civil Registration

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Death Certificate

Available for deaths after July 1st 1837

From Thomas Horwood's birth certificate (view) we know his father was called James Horwood and from the 1871 census (view) we know James was dead by the time of the 1871 census, but (presumably) was alive when Maria Horwood (aged 4 in 1871 census) was born.

Task: Find when, where and how James died from his death certificate.

The quickest way to search for the Death Certificate index is by using the FreeBMD web site.

First Name James
Last Name Horwood
From Mar 1864
To Jun 1871

The search produces 10 responses, and only one seems to be appropriate:

Deaths Mar 1869

Horwood James 45 Clerkenwell 1b 508

The information used by FreeBMD comes from the registers kept in the Family Records Centre and images are now available the findmypast web site.

This not only shows the entry for James Horwood, but also shows an entry for the infant Sarah Ann Horwood, whose birth and death are mentioned in the Bible. 

Using the above reference a copy of James's death certificate was purchased online from the General Register Office:

Registration District Clerkenwell
Sub-district Goswell Street
When and where died Eleventh March 1869 Goswell Street
Name and Surname James Horwood
Sex Male
Age 45 Years
Occupation Butcher
Cause of Death Phthisis 6 months certified
Signature, description and residence of informant Jane Field; In Attendance; 90 Copenhagen Street, Clerkenwell
When Registered Thirteenth March 1869
Signature of Registrar Charles Weedon; Registrar
Margin comment A correction as Copenhagen Street is in Islington, not Clerkenwell. This correction is probably why a typewritten copy has been supplied.]

The Free Dictionary gives the following definition for Phthisis:

1. A disease characterized by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or a part of the body.
2. Tuberculosis of the lungs. No longer in scientific use.
Result of Investigation

Tuberculosis was a common cause of death, particularly in the overcrowded city centres, and James would undoubtedly been unable to work to support his family for many months before he died.  The fact that his widow was a washerwoman in the 1871 census (view) would suggest that the family was reduced to comparative poverty. The fact that Thomas William Horwood entered the jewellery trade could be the result of him being apprenticed by the parish. On the other hand the 1881 census (view) suggests there may have been a family connection and possible active support.


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